b. 15/03/1919 Lurgan, County Down, Ireland. d. 19/12/1941 Tripoli, Libya.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 19/12/1941 Tripoli, Libya.
George Patrick McDowell was born in Lurgan, Co. Down, Ireland, in 1919, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy in 1935, serving in H.M.S. Ganges. Advanced to Acting Yeoman of the Signals, he served during the Second World War in the destroyer H.M.S. Kandahar. In the early hours of the morning of 19 December 1941 the cruiser Neptune, in company with the cruisers Aurora and Penelope and several destroyers including Kandahar, ran into an enemy minefield off Tripoli and was badly holed. Kandahar entered the minefield with the intention of taking the cruiser in tow, but also fouled a mine and sank the following day. Two officers and 70 ratings were lost, including McDowell. The 178 survivors were taken off by the destroyer Jaguar. McDowell is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
When H.M.S. Kandahar was sinking, the heavy seas made it impossible for the rescuing destroyer to go alongside, and she was ordered to lie off and pick up survivors as they abandoned ship. Nets were hung over her side to help those below on rafts, or in the sea, to climb on board. Yeoman of Signals McDowell and Leading Seaman Hambly swam across to the destroyer, but though they themselves had the strength to reach the deck of the ship as she plunged in the heavy swell, with great devotion they chose to stay in the water to help those whose force was spent. In this way they saved many men, until they lost all their strength and were drowned.
BURIAL LOCATION: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL.
PANEL 50 COLUMN 1.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT DNW IN MARCH 2017 FOR £10,000.
Carol Pollard – Image of McDowell AM name on Plymouth Naval Memorial.