Malcolm Hughes G.M.


Malcolm was the second son of William Albert Hughes and Violet Mary Jane Deans.

As a boy Malcolm always had a yen for the sea and when he was 14 years old he lied about his age to go to sea with a trawler fleet. Later he joined the Royal Navy and served as a sick berth attendant stationed at Gibraltar.

In April 1951, the RFA Bedenham docked at Gibraltar laden with ammunition for the dockyards there.  On 27th April whilst unloading the munitions from the Bedenham to a lighter a depth charge caught fire.  Despite attempts to put out the fire the lighter exploded

Malcolm accompanied Surgeon Lieutenant Sheppard to the wharf to tend to the men who had been badly burned.  They were working in the immediate vicinity of the burning lighter with ammunition exploding all around them.

The fire subsequently spread to the Bedenham which in turn exploded with such violence that the ship was torn into three parts.  One part sank and the other two parts were blown onto the wharf.

This massive explosion caused damage to every building on Gibralter - more damage than had occured throughout WWII


Malcolm was within 30 yards of the Bedenham when she blew but fortunately he suffered only shock and minor bruising and at once resumed his work to treat and remove the casualties of this horrific event. After the removal of the casualties from the wharf he returned to the surgery on the Dockyard to assist treating the casualties there.

Fifteen lives were lost in this incident including that of Surgeon Lieutentant Sheppard who was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

King George VI approved the award of the George Medal to Malcolm. The quote from the London Gazette 20/11/1951 :"The coolness, courage and devotion to duty shown by Leading Sick Berth Attendant Hughes in the face of extreme danger was outstanding."