b. 29/12/1908 West Derby, Liverpool. d. 05/11/1933 Mediterranean Sea.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 05/11/1933 Mediterranean Sea.
Henry Hartley Wadsworth was born in West Derby, Liverpool, on 29 December 1908, and joined the Merchant Navy as an Assistant Engineer on 31 May 1930. His first ship was the Ashtabula of Newcastle, which plied her trade on the trans-Atlantic route. Promoted 6th Engineer, he joined his next ship, the SS City of Cairo on 9 January 1931. For the next three years he remained an officer on board this ship, variously coasting or sailing to Africa or India.
Wadsworth embarked upon his last voyage at Birkenhead on 28 October 1933, and the City of Cairo was on her way to India, between Marseilles and Port Said, when there was an explosion in the boiler room on 5 November 1933. Tragically, in attempting to save the lives of three trapped lascar firemen, he was killed. In the inquest that followed it was recorded that the temperature of the escaped steam in the stokehold was 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
On 7 March 1934 the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society awarded its ‘In Memoriam’ medallion with financial assistance to the recipient’s mother (whose own husband, the recipient’s father, had died shortly after news of his son’s death had reached Liverpool). Mr. Thomas McKinney, the Second Engineer, received the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society’s Silver Medal and a certificate. Finally, at the end of the year it was announced that, for his gallantry in attempting to save the lives of others, whilst giving up his own, Wadsworth was to be awarded a posthumous Albert Medal, which was presented to his mother by H.M. King George V at Buckingham Palace on 20 February 1935. According to a local newspaper, ‘After his Majesty had heard the official account of this deed of heroism he said to Mrs. Wadsworth as he handed her the Albert Medal: “it was a very noble and wonderful deed, of which I am sure you are proud.”’
On the 5th November, 1933, an explosion occurred in the boiler room of the s.s. ” City of Cairo ” while she was on the Mediterranean Sea. The Second Engineer, and Mr. Wadsworth, the Sixth Engineer, were in charge of the watch, and immediately the explosion occurred the Second Engineer rushed out of the stokehold and informed the First Engineer, who was off duty, of the mishap. The First Engineer and the Second Engineer then went below. The Second Engineer went through the engine room and opened the door of the stokehold, but scalding steam drove him back. In returning he passed Mr. Wadsworth making his way towards the stokehold where it was known that some lascar firemen had been trapped at the time of the explosion. Mr. Wadsworth went into the stokehold; and when the steam had cleared away he was found dead in the port wing, close to the lascar firemen whom he had tried to rescue. Mr. Wadsworth must have known that in entering the steam-filled stokehold in an endeavour to save the lascar firemen he was running a very great risk of losing his own life.
BURIAL LOCATION: BURIED AT SEA.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT DNW IN FEB 2019 FOR £6,000.
Dix Noonan Webb – Image of Wadsworth’s Albert Medal.