Captain Ronald Neil Stuart, V.C.

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Captain R.N. Stuart

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The King decorating Ronald Stuart at Buckingham Palace. The Daily Mirror, July 23, 1917.

 

"Q" SHIP HERO IN 1917

Captain R. N. Stuart, V.C., D.S.O., R.D., R.N.R., who was awarded both the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order for his conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while in command of "Q", or mystery, ships during the campaign against German submarines in the 1914-18 War, died at his home at Charing, Kent, on Monday at the age of 67.

Born at Liverpool on August 26, 1886, Ronald Neil Stuart came of an old seafaring family, which for generations had been captains to the merchant service. He received his education at Shaw Street College, Liverpool, and started his sea career in 1902 in the Kirkhill, a sailing vessel. It was not long before he had a taste of adventure, for in the third year of his apprenticeship the Kirkhill was wrecked off the Falkland Islands. Later he joined the Allan Line, and when it was taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company he continued in the service of the new proprietors.

During the earlier part of the 1914-18 War Stuart served in various ships of the Royal Navy, but later he was fortunate enough to be selected to serve in the new "Q" ships. It was while serving in the Q-ship Pargust in June, 1917, that his conduct won for him the Victoria Cross. Even among a band of heroes, as the men who manned the "Q" ships undoubtedly were, Stuart's gallantry stood out, and under rule13 of the Royal Warrant of January 29, 1856, he was selected by the officers and the ship's company to receive the Victoria Cross. Already Lieutenant Stuart (as Captain Stuart then was) had the D.S.O., and the further great honour of the Victoria Cross which was bestowed upon him was the first time the distinction had fallen to an Anglo-Canadian in the Imperial forces.

Captain Stuart was also recipient of a high distinction from the United States, namely the Navy Cross. He was awarded that decoration in recognition of the heroic assistance he gave the to the United States destroyer Cassin when she was torpedoed on October 15, 1917. The torpedo which struck the Cassin is understood to have been the first hit scored by the Germans against an American destroyer. When the Cassin was hit one sailor was killed, five were wounded, and the ship's stern was blown off, thus making it impossible for her to steer. Stuart, in command of the "Q" ship Tamarisk, with very great difficulty, and at a very great risk of having his own vessel torpedoed, got a line to the Cassin and succeeded in towing her to port.

After the end of the ware, Stuart returned to more peaceful duties with the C.P.R., and in June, 1934, when Captain R.G. Latta, Commodore of the C.P.R. Fleet, and Commander of the Empress of Britain, retired, he was succeeded by Captain Stuart. After nearly two years in command of the Empress of Britain, Stuart relinquished that appointment to become General Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific steamships at Montreal. He was appointed London manager of the company in 1938 and became Naval A.D.C. to the King in 1941.

He married in 1919 Evelyn, daughter of Mr. W. Wright. There were five children of the marriage, three sons and two daughters.

Source: The Times.

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