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  • Christina Drummond

Commander Richard Frank Jolly GC, the Royal Navy

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1939, Commander Richard Frank Jolly GC, the Royal Navy, died of injuries sustained during an attack by enemy aircraft on HMS Mohawk.

Commander Jolly was educated at Bedford School, and joined the Royal Navy in September of 1914. He served as a midshipman on a battle cruiser during the Great War, and by 1932 had been promoted to the rank of Commander.

On the day of his death, HMS Mohawk was patrolling the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, when she came under attack by enemy aircraft. From a subsequent report: “After arrival in Forth came under air attacks by Ju 88 aircraft and straddled by two bombs which on explosion scattered splinters causing extensive casualties to personnel on bridge and upper decks. 15 of ship’s company were killed and 30 were injured”. Among those injured was Commander Jolly; he was wounded in the stomach, but refused medical attention and also refused to leave his post, saying: “Leave me, go and look after the others." Assisted by his Navigating Officer, who was also wounded, he directed his ship for the next hour and twenty minutes, and succumbed to his injuries a few hours after bringing her safely into port. The Captain of his flotilla reported: "Commander Jolly was an imperturbable Commander of careful judgement who devoted his energies to perfecting his ship and ship's company for battle. His fearlessness and honesty in counsel were remarkable, and he proved his bravery and devotion to his wounded men when for a long period he manoeuvred his ship despite a mortal wound". For his actions that day he was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal posthumously, and a year later it was exchanged by his family for the George Cross upon its inauguration. He is buried in the chuchyard at St. Peter’s, Boughton Monchelsea, in Kent. (Sadly, HMS Mohawk was sunk in April of 1941 by an Italian destroyer which it had attacked, the destroyer managing to launch torpedoes before it in turn sank).

Richard, from Wandsworth, was 43 years old and married with a son.

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