Malcolm Joseph Clow

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Albert Medal in Gold

Malcolm Joseph Clow was born in 1914 and attended Altringham Grammar school before becoming an undergraduate at Pembroke College Cambridge.  In 1933 he is listed in the District Executive minutes as receiving a warrant for the 41st Cambridge Scout Troop, Pembroke College Choir, which ran from 1930 to 1940 and was officially closed in 1943.

His age is given as 30 in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list as it is in the Australian records.  The Altringham School history suggest that this is slightly wrong; he was born in the last quarter of 1914 and was presumably over 18 years old as a Warranted leader in March 1933.

He qualified as a Doctor in 1938 and entered the Royal Navy in 1940, stationed for a time in HMS Pembroke in Chatham. 

His portrait is held by The Imperial War Museum and is reproduced here under a non commercial licence.  © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 3222)

His obituary from the Altringham Grammar School History records

  • ‘Surgeon-Lieutenant M. J. Clow put to use the skill and stamina which in the days of peace had won him many championships and a Blue to rescue the survivors of a torpedoed ship from the waters of the Mediterranean. When he was finally pulled out the effects of his long ordeal were so severe that he never recovered from them, but his heroism was recognised by the high award of the A.M. (in gold).’
  • ‘Swimming— one of the pioneer sports of the early days which had never declined but never dominated—had the honour of providing the first ‘Blue’. M. J. Clow, the School captain of 1932, her swimming champion and the Junior Cheshire champion also, represented Cambridge at Swimming and Water Polo in the years 1933-5.’
  • He was Captain of the school 1931 – 1932 and (Scout) Troop Leader for the same year, which confirms his age, and attended Arrowe Park Jamboree.  He was a Kings Scout.

 ALBERT MEDALS IN GOLD

A surgeon lieutenant and a sick-berth attendant have won the first Albert Medals in gold “for extreme and heroic daring” when their ship H.M.S. Ibis had been left sinking after an air attack off North Africa. They are Surgeon Lieutenant Malcolm Joseph Clow, of Hale. Cheshire, and George William Beeching, whose bravery cost him his life. Among the wounded men brought to Lieutenant Clow in the sick bay was an engine-room artificer badly burned about one arm. The lieutenant gave him an injection of morphia, and, as the ship was by then sinking, helped him to the upper deck. The injured man had no lifebelt, but Lieutenant Clow put his own on him, helped the man Into the sea, and made sure that he was free of the ship before himself abandoning her. In doing this Lieutenant Clow became entangled in the rigging and was pulled down some way before he could fight his way clear. On the surface he had to swim around for three hours without a lifebelt before being picked up. (From https://www.unithistories.com/officers/rnvr_officersc.html)

The school description of him never recovering from his ordeal may explain his death in Australia in 1945.

Albert Medal in Gold

The Albert Medal, first class” later “Albert Medal in gold” was replaced by the George Cross in 1949. Only 25 Albert medals first class (sea) were ever presented and M J Clow was the last person to be awarded the AM and survive before it was replaced by the GC.

The George Cross (GC) is the second highest award of the United Kingdom honours system awarded, as was the Albert Medal, They were awarded “for acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger”, not in the presence of the enemy, to members of the British armed forces and to British civilians. 

From Sydney War Cemetery website

JWR Archivist Dec 2019