ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF LIFE FROM SHIPWRECK, G.IV.R., IN SILVER ‘VOTED 13 FEBY. 1828. LIEUT. JOHN W. BAKE: R.N.’
Lieutenant Bake, R.N’s Citation is confirmed in ‘Lifeboat Gallantry: R.N.L.I. Medals and How They Were Won’ by Barry Cox:
‘13 January 1828: When the ship Mary Ann was wrecked in Bovisand Bay near Plymouth, Devon, in heavy seas, Lieutenant Bake directed the rescue by rope of her Master, Mate, crew of 16 seamen and boys, and seven passengers. The ship was inbound from St. Kitts, Leeward Isles, West Indies.’
John Wolland Bake was born in Ottery St Mary, Devon, on 16 Sep 1792, the son of Robert Bake and Susanna Wolland. He entered the Royal Navy on April 8, 1805 as a 1st Class Volunteer aboard the Avon (18), of Captain Francis Jackson Snell, patrolling between Lisbon and Cádiz. Promoted toMidshipman in December 1806 while serving on the Glatton (50), on duty in the Mediterranean. In August 1809 he was transferred to Cretan Brig (16), Capt. Chas. Fred. Payne, in the North Sea, where he witnessed the capture, 28 Oct. 1810, of the privateer Neptune, of 5 guns and 24 men; and afterwards served, from June, 1812, until May, 1815, in the Teazer gun-brig (12) and Racer schooner (14), both commanded by Lieut. John Julian, in the Channel and off the north coast of Spain, being present at the taking of San Sebastian with the latter (N.G.S. Medal and clasp). Having passed his Lieutenants exam in 1813, he next served aboard the Salvador Del Mundo (112) first-rate, bearing the flag at Plymouth of Vice-Admiral Wm. Domett, and Queen (74), flag-ship of Rear-Admiral Chas. Vinicombe Penrose, in the Mediterranean. Mr. Bake, whose commission bears date 4 Feb. 1815, left the Queen in the following May.
Bake’s entry in O’Byrne, notes that since leaving the Queen, he not since been employed. However Lieutenant Bake joined the Coast Guard after the War with France was over and the Navy lists note him serving as a Chief Officer, Coastguard, from 5 April 1825, having presumably joined the service some years earlier.
The Freemason Register notes the Lieutenant Bake joined No.170 Lodge of Fortitude, Plymouth Dock on February 13 1827. He was still serving at Plymouth in early 1828, as it was in February that year he was awarded the life saving medal. Tracking his service should be possible through Navy Lists, for example in 1842, he was serving as Chief Officer at Littlehampton. The 1851 Census lists Lieutenant Bake (Coast Guard) and family living in Watchet, where it he was still employed in the Coast Guard service. The Navy lists giving his date of retirement from the service as 21 September 1852. Lieutenant John Wolland Bake who had married Nancy Ann Symons in the early 1820’s, died on 28 July 1856 in West Derby, Lancashire
Note, Bake’s middle name is variously spelt ‘Wooland’, Walland, Woolland and Wolland, the latter however appears to be the correct spelling. His 1813 Lieutenant Passing Certificates are in the National Archives, Refs; ADM 107/45 Pg 569-70 and ADM 6/111 Pg 30. These have not as yet been checked or has his memorandum of service, all of which will add exact service dates etc.
Condition NVF contact marks and light edge bruises. Engraved in upright capitals and an early example; the medal only being awarded from 1824, pierced ring suspensions examples only awarded between 1825 and 1831.
Bake’s N.G.S. medal for St Sebastian is part of the Douglas-Morris Collection at the Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. A good Life saving medal to a Naval Officer was an interesting and long service, with plenty of extra research potential.