Edward Thomas Spalding AM

b. 24/04/1895 Kensington, London.  d. 16/08/1956 Hounslow, Middlesex.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 04/08/1918 Mediterranean Sea.

Edward was born in Kensington, London in April 1895. By 1911, he was a metal designer’s apprentice boarding with his brother Horace at 14 Jervis Road, Fulham. During World War I, he served in HMS Pembroke, and it was while he was a passenger aboard HMS Comet he was involved in the incident which led to the award of the Albert Medal.



On the 4th August 1918, H.M.S. “Comet,” under the command of Commander Tupper, was seriously damaged in collision. The ship was badly holed on the starboard side, the deck and all compartments eventually filled with water as far as the engine-room bulkhead, and the stern was at any moment liable to fall off. On being informed that the hydraulic release depth-charge was set to ” fire,” Commander Tupper sent away a man in a whaler to remove the primer. It was only possible to remove the primer from one of the charges, leaving the other depth-charge about 15 feet under water, still at “fire.” Commander Tupper then went away in a dinghy himself, and by repeated diving operations tried to render it safe. After a rest he returned to complete the operation, in which Able Seaman Spalding, who was a passenger on the ship at the time and was a good swimmer, volunteered to assist. Commander Tupper at first refused to allow Spalding to assist him, as the latter had no knowledge of depth charges, and Commander Tupper did not consider it safe for him to go down. Ultimately Commander Tupper and Able Seaman Spalding swam to the spot beneath which the depth-charge was submerged, and alternately gave a turn to the iron bar which Commander Tupper had placed in the handle, until the primer was eventually unscrewed and taken out of the depth-charge, thus rendering it safe. This operation was of the most dangerous nature, as at any moment the stern of the ship might have dropped off before the depthcharge was removed and would have carried down both the officer and the man, who would have inevitably lost their lives. The explosion would also have destroyed the remaining portion of the ship, with loss of life to those of the crew who were on board.