Kenneth John Wilson AM

b. 01/01/1930 Lambeth, London.  d. 01/12/1949 Port Sudan, Red Sea.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 01/12/1949 Port Sudan, Red Sea.

Kenneth was born in Lambeth, London on New Year’s Day 1930, and at the age of 18 he joined the Merchant Navy as a Deck Boy. His Albert Medal was presented to his mother, Mary Elizabeth Wilson at Buckingham Palace by King George VI on 14th November 1951.



On 1st December, 1949, the oil tanker ” Nassarius ” was at sea’ off Port Sudan on a voyage from Beirut to Mena al Ahmeda. At about 2.30 p.m. the Bosun entered a tank in which dangerous gas fumes were present, intending to wash it out with a hose. He was twice forced by’the fumes to leave the tank and while attempting to enter it for the .third time was overcome by them and collapsed on the top ladder. Senior Ordinary Seaman, Kenneth John Wilson, aged 19 years,.was called to help by a pumpman who .had been working with .the bosun, and the two men climbed down into the tank to try to support the bosun on the ladder until a life line could be obtained. Wilson immediately straddled himself over the bosun’s feet, but the pumpman began to lose consciousness and was forced to climb out of the tank again. Wilson remained alone, and a line was passed down to him which he attempted to place around the bosun’s shoulders. Before he could do this, however, he was overcome by gas. Realising that he would not be able to climb out unaided, he went’to the first landing to await help. Here he collapsed and fell to the bottom of the tank. He was brought up after about 10 minutes by the Chief Engineer who was .wearing a smoke helmet, and was found to have serious head injuries. His breathing was restored by artificial respiration, but because, of his injuries this had to be suspended, and he died half an hour later. Wilson displayed great gallantry in entering the tank without a protective helmet or life line, and his courage in remaining to secure a line about the collapsed man when another man had already been forced by the fumes to leave the tank was of the highest order.