Lt Commander Francis Worthington Craven DSO

1889 Feb 29 born Barton upon Irwell, Manchester. Son of J Craven of Mellor Hall Derbyshire

1891 census living with his parents at 178, Upper Chorlton Road, Stretford. His father is a solicitor.

1901 census he is a boarder at a Private School at 29& 31, South Drive, St Annes On The Sea

1903 Mar 17. He took and passed an exam for a cadetship in the Royal Navy

1904 Sep 15, his first posting to a ship HMS Illustrious as Cadet Midshipman. His Naval record is available

1905 Oct 2. Posted to HMS Albion

1896 Apr 3 Posted back to HMS Illustrious

1908 Jan 14 On various courses

1908 Dec 18. Posted to HMS Handy

1908 Feb 26 Posted to HMS Otter

1908 Mar 30. The undermentioned Acting Sub-Lieutenants have been confirmed in the rank of Sub-Lieutenant in His Majesty's Fleet: Francis Worthington Craven.

1911 Jul 39 Posted to HMS Superb as Lt

1912 Aug 26. Court martialed for a disciplinary offence. He lost 9 months seniority, and was reprimanded

1912 Sep 6. Excellent for Grafton

1913 Apr 9 Gibraltar for Grafton

1913 Jun 1. Posted to HMS Challenger.

1913 Oct 3. To HMS Audacious.

1914 Nov 22. Posted to HMS Queen Elizabeth, a super-dreadnought, flagship for the naval operations in the Dardanelles campaign.

1917 Jan 9. P33 in Command

1917 Aug 16 To HMS Cherwell as commander

1918 Jan 11. To HMS Mounsey as commander

1918 Oct 6. he was commanding HMS Mounsey, an M-Class Destroyer and was called to the aid of HMS Otranto, an armed merchant cruiser ferrying American soldiers to Europe. Otranto had collided in rough seas with an escort ship off the Western Isles, and was sinking. 351 American troops died, and 80 of the British crew. Craven managed to rescue almost 350 Americans and landed them at Belfast.

DSO gazetted to Lieut. Francis Worthington Craven, R.N. In recognition of his services when H.M.S. " Otranto " was wrecked on the 6th October, 1918. H.M.S. " Otranto" Was damaged in collision with the s.s. " Kashmir " whilst carrying a large number of American troops. Lieutenant Craven displayed magnificent courage and seamanship in placing H.M.S. " Mounsey " alongside H.M.S.." Otranto " in spite of the fact that the conditions of wind, weather and sea were exceptionally severe. After going alongside and embarking a certain number of men, it was reported that the " Mounsey" had sustained considerable damage, and that there was a large quantity of water in the engine room. Lieutenant Craven, therefore, left the " Otranto," but on finding the damage was not so serious as had been reported, he again went alongside, though he had previously experienced great difficulty in getting away. His action resulted in the saving of over 600 lives which would otherwise have certainly been lost. His performance was a remarkable one, and in personal courage, coolness and seamanship ranks in the very highest order.

An account by an American Edward O'Hara reads

The Otranto made for the Irish coast off Belfast, while the Kashmir put on all steam and continued toward Glasgow. The Captain of the Otranto attempted to beach her, but instead hit one of the rocky precipices that skirt the shores of northern Ireland, and the ship was pounding herself to pieces when the two English destroyers came to her aid. Lieutenant Francis Worthington Craven, commanding the destroyer Moursey, made a frantic attempt at rescue, but the other destroyer's captain, evidently believing discretion the better part of valor, refrained from standing by. Otranto's captain, knowing his ship was doomed, besought Lieutenant Craven not to come over, declaring it meant certain suicide for himself and his crew "Well, it must be suicide then," was his reply, " for we are coming over" Then followed most awful and heartrending scenes. Pinched between sinking Otranto and rocky shores Lieutenant Craven's ship was torn and wrenched while men flung themselves from the deck of the Otranto to that of the destroyer. Miscalculating, in their frenzy, many fell into the sea, others were crushed to death between tossing ships, while others in jumping to the Otranto's deck sustained broken legs, arms or ribs or were otherwise injured. Three trips were made by the heroic Craven, landing alternately his injured, dying or dead cargo at Isley near Glasgow or at a point opposite Belfast, Ireland. Each time Otranto's captain protested it was down-right madness, only to receive from Lieutenant Craven, who himself was badly hurt, the same cool, firm and unvarying reply that so long as his own boat could be kept afloat or the Otranto remained above water, he would keep coming. Just as he was leaving the Belfast pier for a fourth trip. Lieutenant Craven saw the Otranto make one frightful plunge and sink into the sea. And the mighty breakers rolled on in all their anger over the spot where the ill-starred Otranto had madly tossed and struggled a few moments before. It was providential that Lieutenant Craven had proceeded no further in his fourth errand of mercy, as in making for Belfast with all possible speed he was barely able to reach there. Experts declared that had he continued on into open ocean waters, his vessel could never have lived, so badly was she damaged. While Lieutenant Craven's ship went into dry dock for repair at Belfast, he entered a hospital where his injuries received attention and where, six weeks later, we found him, with many others whom he had rescued, and learned from his own lips this story.

1918 Jul 9. The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Lieutenant Francis W. Craven, British Royal Navy, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States, during World War I. While Commanding His Majesty's destroyer MOUNSEY, Lieutenant Craven rescued 7 officers and 313 men of the American forces at sea on 16 October 1918.

A medal web site has I have a WW1 Army DSM #208 engraved around the lower rim "Lieutenant Francis W. Craven, R.N.". This is a genuinely unique award - the only Army DSM to the Royal Navy out of 131 WW1 Army DSM awards to the British. Craven won it for rescuing 7 officers & 313 men of the AEF from the loss of the troopship HMS Otranto after its collision during a storm off the Scottish coast on 6 October 1918.

1919 Jan 11. To HMS Tirade in command

1919 Jan 25 to HMS Spear in command

1919 Feb 18 . Hansard records that Viscount Curzon tabled a question in the House of Lords, asking the First Lord of the Admiralty to “indicate what steps have been taken to recognise the bravery and seamanship of the officer in command of His Majesty's ship "Mounsey"on the occasion of the sinking of His Majesty's transport "Otranto" in a full gale off the Irish coast, which resulted in the saving of 600 lives, and also the services of the officers and men of His Majesty's ship "Mounsey" on the same occasion?”. The response was that “My Noble Friend will be glad to know that the King has been pleased to approve of the appointment of Lieutenant Francis W. Craven to be a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, and that he has received a letter expressing the high appreciation of the Admiralty. He has also been directed to submit the names of any officers and men considered deserving of awards.

1919 Jul 1. Lieut, to be Lieut.-Cdr.— Francis W. Craven, D.S.O.

He appears to have run into substantial financial problems,and got money from grateful people in the USA to pay his debts. A receiving order in bankruptcy was made against in Jan 1920. But the bankruptcy order was annulled in Jul when the debts had all been cleared

The account by the American Edward O'Hara also goes on to say

One year after Armistice an international news writer, in London for one of the big American syndicates, was requested by a member of our Editorial group to look up Lieutenant Craven. Word came back that in Great Britain's disarmament plan he had been discharged from service and, with wife and children to support, found himself in straightened circumstances. Six of our party most readily reached were appealed to and a sizable purse was raised and sent. A letter of gratitude came back. One member of our party, having learned what had been done, insisted on making a contribution. It, as a second installment, was sent to Lieutenant Craven, or rather, to our representative in London. Before this second contribution reached him the Associated Press bore news that two days after Lieutenant Craven had joined the Black and Tans as a district inspector, he was shot to death at Ballinalee, Ireland, in a Sinn Fein uprising. Unable to find other employment to feed his family, he had volunteered into the British constabulary.

1919 Nov 15. Applied to be relieved of command of HMS Spear in order to return to England to deal with private affairs.

1920 Jan 1. To HMS Martin in command

1920 Jan 9. Receiving order in Bankruptcy made against him

1920 May 13. Admiralty, Lieut-Cdr. Francis W. Craven, D.S.O. placed on the Retd. List at own request. This presumably because of the bankruptcy order against him. The Admiralty agree to let retire as a special case in view of his record

1920. Jul 6. Debtor's Name — Craven, Francis Worthington; Address—H.M.S. Spear, of the parish of Stepney, London; Description—Lieutenant in H.M. Navy; Court—High Court of Justice in Bankruptcy; No. of Matter—867 of 1919; Amount per £—20s. in the £, together with Statutory Interest at £4 per cent. p.a.; First or Final, or otherwise—First and Final;

1920 Jul 19. Decorations conferred by the President of the United States of America, Navy Cross to Lieut.-Cdr. Francis W. Craven, D.S.O., R.N.

1920 Jul 23. Debtor's Name—Craven, Francis Worthington; Address— H.M.S. " Spear," of the Parish of Stepney, in the county of London; Description—(Lieutenant in His Majesty's Navy; Court-High Court of Justice in, Bankruptcy;[No. of Matter-867 of 1919; Date of Adjudication—January 27, 1920; Date of Annulment —July 23, 1920; Grounds of Annulment—It appearing to the Court that all the debts herein have been paid in full

1920 Dec 20 joined ADRIC with service number RIC no 80042, ADRIC no 1305. 3rd class District Inspector. He was posted to 'M' Company in Longford. When he enlisted his address was Carlton Lodge, Dudley Rd, Whalley Range, Manchester

1921 Feb 2. Killed at Clonfin Ambush at Ballinlee, Granard, Longford. A large IRA party ambushed 2 Crossley Tenders with Auxillaries.4 of the Auxiliaries died in the ambush. M Coy ADRIC was based in Longford. Francis Craven was initially wounded in the leg,and while he was bandaging it, another bullet struck him in the neck.

1921 Feb 4. Buried Dalton-in-Furness St Mary. Lancs. Grave no 2A-C. Also buried in this grave is Mrs Annie Forsyth Ritchie on  17 October 1938.