b. 14/05/1897 Bark Hart, Seldown, Poole, Dorset. d. 18/02/1944 Anzio, Italy.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 14/09/1918 Dover Harbour, Kent.
George was born near Poole, Dorset, the son of George and Lucy Belben (nee Dickinson). He was one of three children. He joined the Royal Navy and was appointed Midshipman on 31st July 1914. In August 1914, Belben was appointed to the heavy cruiser Cumberland. After about one year, he was appointed to the battleship Canada before being appointed to the Penelope of the Harwich Force in August, 1916. He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in 1917, and in February 1918 to Lieutenant. He served in the blockship Thetis at the Zeebrugge Raid, and was responsible for seeing the men off after the ship’s senior officers had been killed or incapacitated. For these actions he was awarded the DSC. Later that year, he was awarded the Albert Medal for saving lives at sea. In 1928, he married his cousin, Joyce Pamela May Belben in Wimborne, Dorset. In 1930-31, he served as Lieutenant Commander in H.M.S. Renown. Commander Belben was appointed to the battleship Nelson as Fleet Gunnery Officer, vice Bellars, dated 15 November, 1933. He was promoted to Captain in 1939, and was given command of HMS Penelope. He was killed in action on 18th February 1944 during the Anzio landings. He was posthumously awarded the DSO.
On the 16th September 1918, a serious explosion occurred amidships on board H.M.S. ” Glatton” whilst lying in Dover Harbour. This was followed immediately by an outbreak of-fire, the oil fuel biirning furiously and spreading fore and aft. Efforts were made to extinguish the fire by means of salvage tugs. The foremost magazines were flooded, but it was found impossible to get to. the after magazine flooding positions. The explosion and fire cut off the after part of the ship, killing or seriously injuring all the officers who were on board with one exception. The ship might have blown up at any moment. Lieutenant Belben, Sub-Lieutenant Evans, Petty Officer Stoker, and Able Seaman Nunn were in boats which were rescuing men who had been blown, or who had jumped, overboard. They proceeded on board H.M.S. “Glatton” on their own initiative, and entered the superstructure, which was full of dense smoke, and proceeded down to the deck below. Behaving with the greatest gallantry, and contempt of danger, they succeeded in rescuing seven or eight badly injured men from the mess deck, in addition to fifteen whom they found and brought out from inside the superstructure. This work was carried out before the arrival of any gas masks, and though at one time they were driven out by the fire, they proceeded down again after the hoses had been played on the flames. They continued until all chance ‘of rescuing others had passed, and the ship was ordered to be abandoned, when she was sunk by torpedo, as the fire was spreading, and it was impossible to flood the after magazines.
BURIAL LOCATION: NAPLES WAR CEMETERY, NAPLES, ITALY.
PLOT II, ROW O, GRAVE 9.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.
Allan Stanistreet – Images of George Belben DSO DSC AM and his medal group.