Henry Buckle GC OBE (AM non-exchanger)

b. 21/08/1889 Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. d. 22/01/1975 Pimperne, North Dorset.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 27/08/1919 Invergordon, Scotland.

Henry Buckle (1889-1975) was born on 21st August 1889 in Middlesbrough, the son of William and Martha Isabella (nee Kennington). His mother hailed from the Hull area. He was the 5th of 12 children born to the couple. One of his sisters, Hannah, went on to marry Edgerton Price, who was Mayor of Middlesbrough in 1939. Prior to Henry enlisting with the Royal Navy he was a draughtsman.

Henry Buckle GC OBE

On 2nd August 1905, Henry entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on the “Ganges”, and his Continuous Service engagement began on 21st August 1907 for 12 years. He was promoted to Acting Gunner on 4th November 1916 and confirmed as Mate on 28th June 1917.

On 27th August 1919 at Invergordon, Scotland, HMS Tiger was undergoing repairs when three men were overcome by noxious gas. Stoker Petty Officer Albert Bailey, accompanied by another man, made an unsuccessful attempt at rescue, both using respirators, but found them useless.

The officer on watch, Henry Buckle, then arrived on the scene and, in spite of the risk to his own life, immediately went down and succeeded in passing a rope around one of the men. This men was rescued, but Buckle was considerably affected by the gas, and could do nothing further. Bailey, though still suffering from his previous attempt, repeated the operation, and succeeded in getting the other two men out, but both died. Buckle and Bailey were both awarded the Albert Medal on 27th April 1920.

By the time of the citation being published in the London Gazette, Henry had been promoted to Acting Lieutenant, and had obtained his Watchkeeping Certificate. He was then confirmed as a Lieutenant with his seniority backdated to 28th December 1919. He was invested with the Albert Medal at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 22nd March 1922.

On the 25th January 1926 he married Eleanor Kate Bailey in Hong Kong, and they went on to have five children – John, Alan, Pamela, Janet and Clive. In December 1927 Henry was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and served in the Royal Navy until 1934 when he retired as Acting Commander. From 1934, he took a new career as a Whaling Inspector in the Antarctic, and held the role until the impending prospect of war took him home.

On the outbreak of war in 1939, he was recalled as Commander, serving throughout the war until 1946. For most of the war, he was Senior Officer Afloat at Cambleton, Scotland. He then took command of the hunt class HMS Eggesford based in Portland, Dorset in 1946-1947 immediately before being demobbed.

After the war, he returned to his prior career in the Antarctic as a Whaling Inspector, and this was his employment until he retired in 1959. He and his wife had moved to Pimperne, Dorset in 1948, and it was there that he fully retired to. In 1952, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He became a popular figure in the village, telling stories of his sea-faring to the local children as well as showing off his whale teeth carvings. In 1971, Henry decided to decline the opportunity to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross.

Henry passed away on the 22nd January 1975 in Pimperne, and was buried in the local parish churchyard with his wife. His medals including his AM, OBE, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, and War Medal 1939-45 are still held in the Buckle family.





Kevin Brazier – Image of Buckle GC’s grave in St Peter’s Churchyard, Pimperne, Dorset.