Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (26 March 2009)

Date of Auction: 26th March 2009


Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500

Prize Firing Blue Jacket Medal, for Good Shooting in the British Fleet, silver award (W. J. Primmer) the nautical crown ribbon bar inscribed ‘Prize Crew’, the top brooch bar inscribed ‘H.M.S. Good Hope, 1903’, extremely fine and extremely rare, one of only six silver awards £1200-1500


The ‘Bluejacket Medal’ was the precursor of, and probably the catalyst for, the Naval Good Shooting Medal introduced in October 1903. At the instigation of the Bluejacket and Coastguard Gazette, which was the organ of the Royal Naval Provident Fund and Coastguard Benevolent Fund, the medal was announced in the issue for November 1902, as follows:

'As our readers know we have persistently pointed out the necessity of good shooting, and also the necessity of giving some extra inducement to the men of the navy to perfect themselves in this art. Not satisfied, however, with pointing out what should be done, we decided that we, ourselves, would do something, and immediately after, the phenomenal score of Grounds in 1901, the Editor of the Bluejacket approached a well-known and popular naval officer on the subject. Not only did this gentleman agree with the proposals laid before him, but he also offered to specially design a medal for the purpose. The original idea was to present a silver medal to the best shot in the navy each year, but it was pointed out that as the number one of the crew could not make good shooting without the co-operation of his gun's crew on whom he largely depended, a bronze medal should also be presented to each one of the best shots gun's crew. Not only was this agreed to, but the proprietors of this paper also decided to make the medal retrospective to the year 1900.

Rules for Competition

That the Proprietors of the Bluejacket present annually to the best heavy gun shot in the best shooting ship in the British Fleet, a silver medal.

That to each man comprising the gun's crew of the best shot, a bronze medal be presented exact in all respects and struck from the same die as the silver medal.

That the crews of all guns from 4.7" upwards be eligible to compete, and that the winners be decided from annual gunnery returns.'

At the
'Terrible' banquet in September 1902, medals were awarded to two gun's crews because they both produced equal scores in the 1900 Prize Firing. A gun crew from 'Terrible' also won the medals for 1901. These were also presented at the banquet. The medals for 1902 were won by a crew formed of men from the Royal Marine Artillery in H.M.S. Ocean. As the Admiralty differentiated between Battleships and Cruisers in results of the Prize Firing for 1903 the Gazette awarded two sets of medals, one set to a Royal Naval crew in H.M.S. Majestic and the second to a Royal Marine Artillery crew in H.M.S. Good Hope. With the introduction of the Naval Good Shooting Medal in October 1903, no further awards of the Bluejacket Medal were made. In each instance the gun’s ‘number one’ received a silver medal and each of the gun’s crew of 7 or 8 men received a bronze medal, a grand total of six silver and 44 bronze medals.

Petty Officer W. J. Primmer was the ‘number one’ of H.M.S. Majestic’s winning 6-inch quick-firing gun crew in 1903, although it should be noted that his medal carries the top bar inscribed H.M.S. Good Hope in error, this being the ship of the winning Royal Marine Artillery gun crew. Primmer was also awarded the newly introduced Naval Good Shooting Medal. Sold with contemporary news cutting mentioning the recipient: “Worth their weight in diamonds to the country” is the appraisement which Lord Charles Beresford has put upon Petty Officer Carter, of the Jupiter, and Petty Officer Trimmer (sic), of the Majestic, who have proved themselves the best shots with the guns of the Channel Fleet...’