Correctly named medal to K32616 G Mayhew Sto1 RN
George was born in Kings Cross, London, on 26/12/1894 and was working as a Government clerk when he enlisted in April 1916. He is also entitled to a Victory Medal.
From October 1916 until July 1919, George was posted to serve aboard HMS Bristol. While aboard her, he was present at the Battle of the Strait of Otranto (1917)
On the early morning of 15 May 1917, the Austro-Hungarians made their most serious attack of the war on the naval drifters controlling the barrage. Bristol was the “ready ship” at Brindisi and was at a half-hour’s notice for sea; she departed at 04:50, escorted by two Italian destroyers, in an attempt to intercept the three Austrian light cruisers that had conducted the attack. Contrammiraglio (Rear-Admiral) Alfredo Acton, commander of the ships at Brindisi, ordered that her speed be limited to 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) to prevent her from getting too far ahead of the other ships now raising steam. One of these was Bristol‘s half-sister Dartmouth, which departed at 05:36, also escorted by a pair of Italian destroyers. The Dartmouth group overtook Bristol and her consorts by 07:12 and were joined by the Italian scout cruiser Aquila around 07:40. Acton deployed his cruisers in line abreast with Aquila leading them and the destroyers guarding the flanks. Bristol‘s bottom was foul, however, and limited the group to a speed of 24 knots.
Five minutes later, the Allied ships spotted clouds of smoke on the horizon and Acton ordered the Italian ships to attack shortly afterwards while the two British cruisers turned to cut off the two Austrian destroyers. Aquila opened fire at 08:15 at long range, but inflicted no damage before she was immobilised by a hit at 08:32 that detonated inside her central boiler room and severed her main steam pipe. The Austrian ships managed to disengage before the cruisers could close the distance.
The main Austro-Hungarian force of three light cruisers trailed the leading destroyers by a considerable distance and Commander Miklós Horthy spotted the Allied force around 09:05. Acton spotted them about five minutes later and manoeuvred his ships to cover the disabled Aquila rather than crossing the Austrians’ T. The British ships opened fire about 09:30, although Horthy’s ships quickly laid a smoke screen and turned away through it. Both sides settled on parallel courses to the north-northwest and Bristol gradually began to fall behind and could eventually only use her bow gun at very long range before ceasing fire at 10:15. The British fire was moderately effective, but the Austrian ships concentrated their fire on Dartmouth which was hit three times, although not significantly damaged. Acton reduced his speed around 10:45 to allow Bristol to catch up. At 10:58 he ordered speed to be increased and turned two minutes later in an unsuccessful attempt to cut off the trailing Austrian cruiser. At 11:04, the British cruisers ceased fire and turned away on Acton’s order, presumably to avoid encountering Austro-Hungarian reinforcements which Acton knew were en route. During the battle the British cruisers were repeatedly attacked by Austro-Hungarian aircraft, but they inflicted no significant damage or casualties.
As a result of the raid, it was decided by the British naval command that unless sufficient destroyers were available to protect the barrage, the drifters would have to be withdrawn at night. The drifters would only be operating for less than twelve hours a day, and would have to leave their positions by 15:00 every day. Despite the damage received by the Austro-Hungarian cruisers during the pursuit by Dartmouth and Bristol, the Austro-Hungarian forces inflicted more serious casualties on the Allied blockade. In addition to the sunk and damaged drifters, the cruiser Dartmouth was nearly sunk by the German submarine UC-25, the French destroyer Boutefeu was mined and sunk, and a munitions convoy to Valona was interdicted.
However, in a strategic sense, the battle had little effect on the war. The barrage was never particularly effective at preventing the U-boat operations of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the first place. The drifters could cover approximately .5 mi (0.80 km) apiece; of the 40 mi (64 km)-wide Strait, only slightly more than half was covered. The raid risked some of the most advanced units of the Austro-Hungarian fleet on an operation that offered minimal strategic returns.
With a length of original ribbon.