Robert Mills Chalmers GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 01/06/1894 Gillingham, Kent. d. 07/09/1974 Edinburgh, Scotland.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23/06/1925 Shameen, China.

Robert Mills Chalmers (1894-1974) was born on 1st June 1894 in Gillingham, Kent, the son of Sergeant William Chalmers RE and his wife Elizabeth (nee Mills). Following local schooling, he became a grocer’s apprentice. On the 1st June 1912 (his 16th birthday), he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy at Chatham. He would remain in the Navy for 14 years.

Robert M Chalmers GC

He served on a number of ships beginning with the Ganges and ending with the Pembroke in May 1926. He served in the First World War. In June 1919, Robert married Lilian May Johnson in Strood, Kent, and they later had a daughter, May.

The incident that led to the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal had occurred the year before he left the Navy, during disturbances in Shameen, China. On 23rd June 1925, during the troubles Chinese soldiers and students opened fire on the Victoria Hotel. The British retaliated, killing 37 and wounding 80. When the British ordered a cease fire, Petty Officer Chalmers ran along the line under heavy fire, blowing the signal for “cease fire” continuously, until, just as he was passing the Victoria Hotel, he was hit in both hands and fell into the hotel verandah.

On 18th June 1926, a month after he had left the Navy, the announcement was made of the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal. In his service record, it was erroneously recorded as an OBE. In September 1940, his EGM was automatically exchanged for the newly created George Cross. On the outbreak of World War II, he had returned to the Royal Navy and served in the Atlantic Fleet. He left the Navy for a second time following the end of the war.

On his retirement, Robert and his wife moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he died on 7th September 1974, aged 80. He was cremated at Warriston Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. Chalmers’ medals including his GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, and Royal Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal are privately held.





Richard Yielding – Main Image of Robert Mills Chalmers GC from the 1968 VCGCA Reunion.