Robert Stones AM

b. 18/04/1898 Clitheroe, Lancashire.  d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 06/12/1917 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Very little is known about Robert Stones, who was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, on 18th April 1898. He was the youngest of nine children born to Joseph and Margaret Stones (nee Barker). Sadly, he never knew his mother who died shortly after his birth. He enlisted in the Royal Navy on 18th April 1916 (his 18th birthday) and served on a number of ships before he joined HMS Highflyer. Soon after his Albert Medal action, he deserted from the Navy to attempt to join the Army. He was discovered and returned to the Navy, for whom he served until being invalided out in 1922. It is then believed he emigrated to Canada.



On the 6th December, 1917, the French steamer ” Mont Blanc,” with a cargo of high explosives, and the Norwegian steamer “Imo,” were in collision in Halifax Harbour. Fire broke out on the “Mont Blanc ” immediately after the collision, and the flames very quickly rose to a height’ of over 100 feet. The crew abandoned their ship and pulled to the shore. A few minutes later a, tremendous explosion took place, and the tug ” Musquash ” was seen to be on fire forward. The fire was increasing, and there appeared to be a great danger of her getting adrift, and being carried down on to another vessel. As the ” Musquash ” had a gun and ammunition on ‘board there was danger of a further explosion and consequent loss of life. The Captain of H.M.S. “Highflyer” hailed a. private tug and asked her to take the “Musquash” in tow, but as they were unwilling to board the ” Musquash ” to get her in tow, the tug was brought alongside H.M.S. “Highflyer.” Leading Seaman Davis and Able Seaman Stones immediately volunteered, and having been transferred by the tug to the burning ” Musquash,” which had by this time broken adrift, they secured a line from her stern, by means of which she was towed into midstream. The line then parted, and Davis and Stones passed another line from the “Musquash ” to the pumping lighter “Lee,” -which had now arrived. They then both went forward to the burning part, and succeeded in getting to the ammunition, which was by this time badly scorched, pulled it away from the flames and threw it overboard. They then broke open the door of the galley, which was on fire inside, to enable the ” Lee” to play her hoses into it. They repeated the same thing with the cabin. By their work they made it possible to subdue the fire and save further damage and loss of life. At any moment whilst they were on board the “Musquash ” the ammunition might have exploded.