Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug

14

1942

The battle to save the Ohio

The damaged tanker OHIO, supported by Royal Navy destroyers HMS PENN (left) and HMS LEDBURY (right), approaches Malta after an epic voyage across the Mediterranean as part of convoy WS21S (Operation Pedestal) to deliver fuel and other vital supplies to the besieged island. OHIO's back was broken and her engines failed during earlier German and Italian attacks. Because of the vital importance of her cargo (10,000 tons of fuel which would enable the aircraft and submarines based at Malta to return to the offensive), she could not be abandoned. In a highly unusual manoeuvre, the two destroyers supported her to provide buoyancy and power for the remainder of the voyage. The OHIO's captain was subsequently awarded the George Cross. The OHIO itself was sunk outside the harbour after discharging its cargo.

The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to Captain Dudley William Mason, Master, SS Ohio. During the passage to Malta of an important convoy Captain Mason’s ship suffered most violent onslaught. She was a focus of attack throughout and was torpedoed early one night. Although gravely damaged, her engines were kept going and the Master made a magnificent passage by hand-steering and without a compass.