Aircraftman 1st Class Richard O’Neill DSM

AC 1 O’Neill’s DSM is unique amongst all awards to RAF Regiment Gunners, in that he was awarded a Royal Navy other-ranks decoration for gallantry at sea.

WW2-era Distinguished Service Medal
WW2-era Distinguished Service Medal

In June 1942, this Airman was proceeding to Malta in a vessel (SS Aagtekirk) as such, owing to it’s slow speed was forced to drop out of the convoy and was attacked by enemy aircraft. During the engagement AC1 O’Neill helped to man one of the machine guns and remained at his post until blown from it by a bomb. Though wounded in the arm he later volunteered to assist the Captain to rig the hand steering gear and only when this proved useless did he leave the ship. While in the water he made successful efforts to save the lives of two of his comrades. Maintaining a dauntless spirit throughout the entire action, AC1 O’Neill displayed great fortitude and tenacity in a most hazardous situation.

Listed as a battle casualty and invalided back from Eqypt to the UK, he was discharged from the Service on account of disability 21 July 1943. The Lancashireman had enlisted 25 July 1940 as a Ground Gunner. In February 1942 he embarked for the Middle East prior to joining “Clara” Squadron for Operation VIGOROUS.

O’Neill’s award was gazetted on 6 July 1943.

There are no photos of Richard O’Neill on record. If any family members can assist in providing any, the Corps would be hugely grateful.