Walter Henry Calthrop Calthrop AM

b. 16/09/1869 Horkston, Lincolnshire.  d. 1951 Surrey.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 14-15/04/1918 Port Said, Egypt.

He was born the son of Calthrop Johnstone Calthrop and his wife, Susan (nee Thorpe). Calthrop was given the rank of Lieutenant upon entering the service on 31 October, 1895.

Walter H C Calthrop AM

Four men were killed in a torpedo-handling accident on 9 February, 1897 when the first class protected cruiser Gibraltar was under the command of Captain Harry Francis Hughes-Hallett and was operating out of Zanzibar. Lieutenant Walter Ellerton was directing the quarterly examination of the dry primers for the torpedoes, the work being carried out by Leading Seaman Arthur Moxley and Able Seaman Albert Rock. After the pistols and primers had been examined and returned to their cases, the last one so examined by Ellerton was found by Lieutenant Calthrop to be outside of its case in pieces, with its safety pin removed. The explosion occurred soon afterward, and Moxley, who had been sitting on a box, was “blown to atoms”. Three other men were injured so badly that they died that night. A fifth man survived, but could provide no helpful information as to the events leading up to the explosion.

In 1900, Walter married Grace Alderson in Richmond, Surrey. Calthrop was placed on the Retired List at his own request with the rank of Commander on 16 September 1909. In August 1914, he was appointed as Naval Agent at Sierre Leone, lasting until 15 June 1915. After the war, he was granted the rank of Captain (retired) in recognition of war services with seniority of 11 November, 1918.



On the night of the 14th/15th April 1918. a fire broke out on board the S.S. “Proton,” an ammunition ship, afc Port Said. Commander Calthrop, on being informed on the telephone that the ship was on fire,-immediately proceeded to the scene. The ship had already been abandoned by her crew, and was ablaze in Nos. 1 and 2 holds. The forecastle was also alight, and it was impossible to get down to the fore well deck owing to the heat of the flames. Knowing that the “Proton”had 240 tons of ammunition on board, Commander Calthrop decided to endeavour to flood the ship, and for this purpose obtained assistance and went down into the engine-room and opened the sea inlet. He also tried to break the main sea valve cover, but was not successful in this. He accordingly sent for a gun-cotton charge for the purpose of sinking the ship, and warned all ships in the vicinity to get under weigh. He then returned to the “Proton,” which was now blazing fiercely forward, the sides being red hot as far aft as the bridge, and the bridge screen all alight. He again boarded her with the first and second engineers and went below, trying to break the doors of the condenser with sledge hammers. After about five minutes’this was found to be impossible, and they returned on deck. By this time a picket-boat had arrived with the gun-cotton charge, and it was decided that the ship ought to be sunk as soon as possible. This operation was accordingly carried out. Commander Calthrop displayed the utmost gallantry and disregard of his own personal safety in making protracted efforts, first to flood and then to sink the ship, whilst exposed to continual risk of an explosion of the ammunition on board. His efforts undoubtedly prevented serious loss of life.