b. 18/05/1903 Chelsea, London. d. 09/11/1984 Downton, nr Salisbury, Wiltshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23/05/1928 Malta.
Reginald William Armytage (1903-1984) was the son of Sir George Ayscough Armytage, 7th Baronet, CMG, DSO of Kirklees Park, Brighouse and his wife Amy nee Pilkington. He was born in Chelsea, London on 18th May 1903. He was educated at the Osborne and Dartmouth Colleges.
He had entered the Navy at the age of 13 in 1917. He served on HMS Royal Oak in 1921, HMS Capetown from 1922-24, on emergency destroyers in 1925 and on HMS Warspite from 1926-1928. It was while he was serving on Warspite on 23rd May 1928 that he performed the actions which led to his and Dick Oliver’s Albert Medal.
On the 23rd May 1928, whilst HMS Warspite was lying alongside Parlatorio Wharf, Malta, an examination of the bulge compartments situated on the Port side aft was being carried out. The manhole door of the lower bulge compartment was removed and the test took place. It was found the air was poisonous. A Chief Stoker attempted to enter, although it was perilous, and was immediately overcome by the gas and fell unconscious to the bottom of the compartment, a distance of twenty feet.
The alarm was given and Lieutenant Armytage fetched a gas mask and with a life line around him entered the compartment and reached the bottom, when he was overcome by the gas and left unconscious also. Fortunately, he was hauled to safety by his lifeline, and was taken to the nearest Royal Naval Hospital in a poor condition. Meanwhile, Leading Seaman Dick Oliver volunteered to attempt a second rescue, and managed to reach the striken Chief Stoker, and managed to pull the man to safety despite the physical risks to himself.
Following his recovery and the award of the Albert Medal, Reginald qualified as a Gunner and served on HMS Devonshire, HMS Mackay and HMS Frobisher. In 1928 he married Sylvia Beatrice Staveley and they had three sons David, Maurice and Roderick. In the same year, he played rugby union for the Navy and was picked to play for England in 1929 but was unable to play due to being called back to sea.
Armytage became Head of Gun Design and the Senior Naval Representative at the Armament Design Establishment in 1946, and later became Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance in 1956. His final Naval rank was Rear Admiral. In 1959, he was awarded the CBE. In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, he chose not to exchange his Albert Medal for a GC.
On retirement, he and his wife moved to Downton, Wiltshire where his main hobby was water colour painting. He died on 9th November 1984 and was buried in his wife’s family vault in Holbeton, Devon. His medals including the Albert Medal, CBE, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977 are proudly held by the Armytage family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: IN RECIPIENT’S FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: WIFE’S FAMILY VAULT, ALL SAINTS CHURCH, HOLBETON, DEVON.
Kevin Brazier – Armytage GC Grave