Richard Wright Toman AM

b. 03/03/1863 Newlyn, Cornwall. d. 20/03/1919 Penzance, Cornwall.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 03/08/1898 Malta.

Richard was the youngest of two children born to Richard Vingoe and Margaret Harvey Toman (nee Wright). He was born in Newlyn, Cornwall and was baptised on the 15th April 1863 at St Peters. By 1881, Richard was in Portsmouth where he was serving on HMS Marlborough where he was an engineering student. He enlisted with the Royal Navy in 1884, and served on a number of ships as an Engineer. In 1896, he married Helenia Augustina Cotter in Westminster, and they had no children. Following his retirement from the Royal Navy as an Engineer Commander, he moved back to Cornwall with Helenia, where he died in 1919, aged 56.



On the 3rd August, 1898, whilst Her Majesty’s ship “Foam” was carrying out her full speed trial at Malta, the mean pressure cylinder burst; the revolutions of the engines at the time being 350 per minute. There was no indication whatever of the impending explosion, which, of course, happened with great suddenness. MR. TOMAN at once ordered every one to leave the engine room, and ran to the main throttle valve, which is at the fore end of the engine room, and endeavoured to shut it off, getting both arms and hands badly scalded in consequence. He then proceeded to shut off the main stop-valves of boilers in the stokeholds. Having done this with great promptitude, and so confining the steam to the boilers alone, he increased the chance of saving the life of anyone who might have been left below. MR. TOMAN, thinking all the men were not up from the engine room, went down and searched in this volume of steam, which was at a pressure of 200 Ibs. to the square inch when the cylinder burst, but was unable to find anyone. He then tried to get on deck, but, owing to the excessive volume cf steam, he twice fell halfway down the ladder. He eventually reached the deck, and at once proceeded to turn on the fire extinguishers to the boilers, his hands at the time being almost bare of skin. The valve wheel was heated to such an extent as to be almost unbearable to hands in an ordinary condition. As the engines were flying round immediately after the accident there was every danger of the connecting rod being driven through the bottom but it was greatly lessened by the promptitude and pluck shown by MR. TOMAN in shutting of the main stop-valves, and so reducing the risk the ship being sunk or seriously damaged, and the lives of all on board being probably lost. MR. TOMAN, after having been driven out of the engine room and severely scalded, again went below into the engine room, which was filled with steam, to search for anyone who may not have been able to escape, and only succeeded in finally getting out of the engine room .after two attempts. MR. TOMAN was very much scalded on both arms and knees by the escape of steam, which necessitated his removal to hospital.