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Date of Auction: 21st September 2001

Sold for £4,400

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

A scarce Great War D.S.C. and Bar group of five awarded to Lieutenant-Commander Reginald Allen, Royal Naval Reserve, who won his D.S.C. in the Gallipoli landings of April 1915, and his Bar for services in Q-ships

Distinguished Service Cross, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar; 1914-15 Star (Mid., R.N.R.); British War and Victory Medals, with small M.I.D. oak leaf (S.Lt., R.N.R.); Royal Naval Reserve Decoration, G.V.R., mounted as worn, together with Master’s Certificate (1922), Board of Trade Continuous Certificate of Discharge and two photographs, good very fine (5) £2500-3000

Footnote

D.S.C. London Gazette 14 March 1916: ‘Probationary Midshipman Reginald Allen, H.M.S. Europa. For services performed under shell fire on the beaches and in steam boats off the beaches.’ Also commended for service in action during the operations in Gallipoli, April 1915-January 1916.

Bar to D.S.C.
London Gazette 17 November 1917: ‘Sub. Lieutenant, D.S.C., R.N.R. For services in action against enemy submarines.’ For the possible destruction of an enemy submarine by the Q-ship Chagford. One of only approximately 92 bars to the D.S.C. awarded during the Great War.

The following extract is taken from Q Ships and their Story by E. Keble Chatterton:

“In the spring of 1917 there was a 2,905-ton steamship, called the
Bracondale, in the employment of the Admiralty as a collier. It was decided that she would make a very useful Q-ship, so at the beginning of April she was thus commissioned and her name changed to Chagford. She was fitted out at Devonport and armed with a 4-inch, two 12-pounders, and a couple of torpedo tubes, and was ready for sea at the end of June. Commanded by Lieutenant D. G. Jeffery, R.N.R., she proceeded to Falmouth in order to tune everything up, and then was based on Buncrana, which she left on August 2 for what was to be her last cruise, and I think that in the following story we have another instance of heroism and pertinacity of great distinction.

Chagford’s position on August 5 at 4.10 a.m. was roughly 120 miles north-west of Tory Island, and she was endeavouring to find two enemy submarines which had been reported on the previous day. At the time mentioned she was herself torpedoed just below the bridge, and in this one explosion was caused very great injury: for it disabled both her torpedo tubes and her 4-inch gun; it shattered the boats on the starboard side as well as the Captain’s cabin and chart room. In addition, it also wrecked all the voice-pipe connections to the torpedo tubes and guns, and it flooded the engine-room and put the engines out of commission, killing one of the crew. Lieutenant Jeffery therefore ‘abandoned’ ship [i.e. sent off the panic party], and just as the boats were getting away two periscopes and a submarine were sighted on the starboard side 800 yards away. As soon as the enemy came to the surface fire was opened on her by the two 12-pounders and both Lewis and machine-guns, several direct hits being observed. The submarine then dived, but at 4.40 a.m. she fired a second torpedo at Chagford, which hit the ship abaft the bridge on the starboard side.

From the time the first torpedo had hit, the enemy realised that the Chagford was a warship, for the 4-inch gun and torpedo tubes had been made visible, and now that the second explosion had come Lieutenant Jeffery decided to recall his boats so that the ship might genuinely be abandoned. The lifeboat, dinghy, and a barrel raft were accordingly filled, and about 5.30 a.m. the enemy fired a third torpedo, which struck also on the starboard side. Having sent away in the boats and raft everyone with the exception of himself and a lieutenant, R.N.R. [James S. Hely], two sub-lieutenants, R.N.R. [Reginald Allen, D.S.C., and George E. Martin], also an assistant paymaster, R.N.R. [Harry Manley], and one petty officer [E. A. Edgecombe], Lieutenant Jeffery stationed these in hiding under cover of the fo’c’sle and poop, keeping a smart look-out, however, through the scuttles.

Here was another doomed ship rolling about in the Atlantic without her crew, and only a gallant handful of British seamanhood still standing by with but a shred of hope. To accentuate their suspense periscopes were several times seen, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. a submarine frequently appeared on the surface at long range, and almost every hour a periscope passed round the ship inspecting her cautiously. During the whole of this time Chagford was settling down gradually but certainly. At dark Lieutenant Jeffery, fearing that the enemy might attempt boarding, placed Lewis and Maxim guns in position and served out rifles and bayonets to all. Midnight came, and after making a further examination of the damage, Lieutenant Jeffery realized that it was impossible for the Chagford to last much longer, for her main deck amidships was split from side to side, the bridge deck was badly buckled, and the whole ship was straining badly. Therefore, just before half-past midnight, these five abandoned the ship in a small motor-boat which they had picked up at sea some days previously, but before quitting Chagford they disabled the guns, all telescopic sights and strikers being removed.

Having shoved off, they found to their dismay that there were no tanks in the motor-boat, so she had to be propelled by a couple of oars, and it will be readily appreciated that this kind of propulsion in the North Atlantic was not a success. They then thought of going back to the ship, but before they could do so they were fortunately picked up at 7.30 a.m. by H.M. trawler Saxon, a large submarine having been seen several times on the horizon between 4 and 7 a.m. The trawler then proceeded to hunt for the submarine, but, as the latter had now made off, volunteers were called for and went aboard Chagford, so that by 4 p.m. Saxon had commenced towing her [Sub-Lieutenant Allen was again amongst the volunteers on this occasion]. Bad luck again overcame their efforts, for wind and sea had been steadily increasing, and of course there was no steam, so the heavy work of handling cables had all to be done by hand. Until the evening the ship towed fairly well at 2 knots, but, as she seemed then to be breaking up, the tow rope had to be slipped, and just before eight o’clock next morning (August 7) she took a final plunge and disappeared. The Saxon made for the Scottish coast and landed the survivors at Oban on the morning of the eighth. In this encounter, difficult as it was, Chagford had done real service, for she had damaged the submarine so much that she could not submerge, and this was probably U-44 which H.M.S. Oracle sighted in the early hours of August 12 off the north coast of Scotland, evidently bound to Germany. Oracle chased her; U-44 kept diving and coming to the surface after a short while. She had disguised herself as a trawler and was obviously unable to dive except for short periods. Oracle shelled and then rammed her, so that U-44 was destroyed and Chagford avenged.”

Lieutenant Jeffery was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, while Sub-Lieutenant Allen got a Bar to his Distinguished Service Cross, and Sub-Lieutenant Martin and Assistant Paymaster Manley both received the Distinguished Service Cross.

Reginald Allen was appointed Midshipman, Royal Naval Reserve, on 15 August 1911, and in September 1914 was serving aboard the armed merchant cruiser Teutonic. In January 1915 he transferred to the battleship Triumph and would appear to have been one of the survivors from that ship when she was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off Gallipoli on 25 May 1915. In June 1915 he is shown aboard the cruiser Europa before joining the salvage vessel Hughli in December 1915. He rejoined Europa the following year and subsequently served aboard the destroyer Thorn and T.B. 23. In June 1917, he is listed for Special Service, in his case with the Q-ship Chagford and the incident described above. Following the loss of Chagford, Allen served in the Q-ships Avronian and Dianthus, and is shown as a Special Service officer until 1919, when he was demobilised. Lieutenant-Commander Reginald Allen died in 1938, aged 40. Sold with copies of the official action report and other details.