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    Recently in a book shop I saw a wall poster of ship wrecks off the outer banks of NC. On this chart was a small photograph inset showing two medals which had been awarded to five Life Boat Service men who saved the surviving crew members of the British tanker "Mirlo" off Cape Hatteras in August 1918. The Mirlo, fully loaded with aviation fuel, had struck a German submarine laid mine, was damaged and set ablaze. The photo caption identified the medals as "Coast Guard Grand Cross of the American Cross of Honor" only eleven of which were ever awarded. The other medal was identified as "King’s Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea in Gold." This British collectors would know this as (Medal Yearbook 68) Sea Gallantry Medal (Foreign Services) which was awarded in gold and silver during the reign of George V. The Coast Guard medal was round in shape with a superimposed cross. The Life Boat Serice was merged into the USCG in 1915. Would anyone like to comment on this Coast Guard medal?


    The Society of the American Cross of Honor was organized in 1898 and incorporated by act of Congress in 1906.

    It’s "regular" membership was composed of awardees of the Lifesaving Medal (I presume the Silver and/or Gold Lifesaving Medals) by the US Govt.

    The Society awarded Bronze Crosses for acts of lifesaving (presumably ones where the US Lifesaving Medals were not conferred, but this is supposition by me), as well as annual awards in concert with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute of Great Britain to a notable lifesaver from that country.

    There were also a Gold Cross of Honor (probably what was called the "Grand Cross" in your notes), which was awarded in "exceptional cases to persons who by great daring have highly distinguished themselves in saving life."

    One of the other Gold Cross recipients was Captain Henry Rostron of the Carpathia for his involvement of the rescue of 700 survivors of the Titanic. Here’s some information about his award:

    "Captain Rostron was also awarded the American Cross of Honor. This decoration was given by the Society of the American Cross of Honor, an organisation devoted to recognising bravery in the saving of life in non-military situations. The medal was frequently awarded for rescues at sea. There was also British involvement and the gold version of the decoration was sometimes awarded on the recommendation of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This is probably the reason for the medal being presented to Captain Rostron at the British Embassy, also on March 1st 1913."

    The award to the Coast Guardsmen at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station had the following citation:

    In a heavy northeast sea that caused the lifeboat to be tossed back upon the beach and the crew washed away from the oars time after time. Undaunted they returned to their task. After succeeding in getting their boat through the surf they were compelled to steer into a blazing inferno where the flames leaped at least 500 feet high, and were in serious danger of being burned to death if not drowned. They picked up a number of the crew of the Mirlo and towed four of the ship’s boats … They anchored the boats beyond the breakers and then made four trips in their surf boat bringing the entire 42 survivors safely ashore.

    Weekly during the Summer, active duty CG personnel put on a demonstration of some of the old LSS equipment, including firing a Lyle Gun and "rescuing" a live "victim" from the water.

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