Herbert John Mahoney GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 04/02/1896 Plymouth, Devon. d. 01/06/1940 Dunkirk, France.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 07/1927 Mediterranean Sea.

Herbert John “Bertie” Mahoney (1896-1940) was born on 4th February 1896 in Plymouth, Devon, the son of John and Ellen Mahoney (nee Chambers). Bertie’s father was a street sweeper and he and Ellen had four children in all. Following his schooling, Bertie gained employment as a coal labourer. Less than a year later, on 30th August 1910, he decided to join the Royal Navy. He first served on the Vivid II (and again a number of times during the next 18 years) as a Stoker. He also served on HMS Hood, HMS Concord and many other ships before becoming a Stoker Petty Officer in 1917.

Herbert J Mahoney GC

By the late 1920s, Bertie was serving aboard HMS Taurus in the Mediterranean Sea, when the incident occurred where he showed great gallantry. In 1924, he married Emily Beatrice Luscombe in Plymouth.  In July 1927, HMS Taurus, a torpedo-boat destroyer, was steaming at high speed when the supports to the starboard fore turbo-fan fractured, causing the fan to drop; this in turn severed the main auxiliary exhaust steam pipe and several smaller pipes. Mahoney ordered the boiler room cleared at once, but remained behind at great personal risk to close the stop valves and take other necessary action. The boiler room was filled with steam, and large pieces of metal were being hurled about by the still-running turbo-fan.

Bertie was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Civil Division on 23rd December 1927. At the outbreak of World War II, he was serving aboard HMS Basilisk. On 1st June 1940, the destroyer under the command of Commander Richmond, along with three others, was sunk by German Stuka bombers off the beaches of Dunkirk while taking part in the evacuation of the BEF. Mahoney’s body was not recovered and lost at sea, so he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Interestingly, his name did not have the GC post nominals next to it until October 2020. In September 1940, following the creation of the George Cross, recipients of the EGM were automatically given the new decoration. Mahoney despite his recent death, was included in this, and his GC was presented to his widow Emily.

His medals including his GC and Long Service and Good Conduct Medal were sold at auction at Christie’s on 23rd November 1965 to Spink. They have since been auctioned several times, the last time being in 2003. They are in private ownership.






Thomas Stewart – Image of Mahoney GC’s name on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.