Orders, Decorations and Medals (22 June 1999)

Date of Auction: 22nd June 1999

Sold for £3,800

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

A rare Great War D.S.M. and Bar group of twelve awarded to Chief Engine Room Artificer H. A. Harris, Royal Navy, awarded the D.S.M. for the Zeebrugge Raid, and a Bar to the D.S.M. for the subsequent raid on Ostend, one of only four double D.S.M’s for these two raids

Distinguished Service Medal, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar (M.6218. H. A. Harris, E.R.A.3Cl. “Vindictive” Zeebrugge-Ostend. 22-3 Apl. 1918) the reverse of the bar officially impressed ‘9-10 May 1918’; British War and Victory Medals, with oak leaf M.I.D. emblem (M.6218, E.R.A.4 R.N.); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Burma Star; War Medal; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 2nd issue with fixed suspension (M.6218 E.R.A.1, H.M.S. Centaur) contact marks, otherwise generally very fine or better £2000-2500


D.S.M. London Gazette 23 July 1918: ‘For services during the operations against Zeebrugge and Ostend on the night of 22nd-23rd April, 1918.’

Bar to D.S.M. London Gazette 28 August 1918: ‘The following awards have been approved.’ All awards for Ostend 9-10 May 1918.

M.I.D. London Gazette 19 February 1919.

Herbert Alfred Harris was born on 10 July 1897, at Gosport, Hampshire, and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy Artificer on 26 July 1913. He was serving as E.R.A. 4 aboard H.M.S.
Royal Sovereign when he volunteered for the Zeebrugge Raid, one of the four E.R.A’s who looked after Vindictive’s engines, all of whom were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and took part in the ballot for the award of the Victoria Cross.

Approaching the Zeebrugge Mole, Vindictive’s engines were ordered at full speed astern and full speed ahead alternately to keep the ship in position; the manner in which these orders were carried out by the engine-room staff, under the command of Engineer Lieutenant-Commander Bury, was admirable. After the raid, Vindictive was steaming nearly 17 knots until daylight - a great achievement on the part of Bury and his department.

For the raid in May, Vice-Admiral Keyes intended to allow the Senior Engineer of the Ostend blockships to take charge of the Vindictive’s engines, but Engineer Lieutenant-Commander Bury protested warmly against leaving the ship, and claimed his right to remain in Vindictive. This very

gallant officer, who greatly distinguished himself on the 23rd April, represented that his knowledge of the engines and boilers of his ship should be utilised. He further begged that Engine Room Artificers Hubert Cavanagh, Norman Carroll, Alan Thomas, and Herbert Alfred Harris, who also volunteered, might be allowed to remain with him. Keyes acceded to his request.

In the early morning mist on 10th May, Vindictive made her last eight-point turn, then steamed through the canal entrance at Ostend. Bury and his four E.R.A’s had experienced little trouble with the engines despite the hastily-patched steampipes which had been severely strained by gunfire at Zeebrugge. All was well below, and the 35 men in the engine-room felt that they had done a good job. With Vindictive in position across the channel of the canal, Lieutenant Victor Crutchley gave orders for the ship to be abandoned, preparatory to the firing of the charges which would sink Vindictive, thereby blocking the channel. Crutchley had displayed great courage. Having succeeded to the command of the Vindictive, and made every endeavour by manoeuvring his engines to place the ship in an effective position, he did not leave her until he had made a thorough search with an electric torch for survivors, under a very heavy fire.

Engineer Commander Bury was very severely wounded. He remained in the engine-room until the last possible moment, and when everyone was clear, he blew the bottom out of the ship, by firing the main and auxiliary after charges. Three of his gallant E.R.A’s were saved, the fourth, Alan Thomas, was missing but it was later learnt that he had been picked up swimming by the Germans and made prisoner.

All four of Bury’s E.R.A’s got bars to the D.S.M’s they had won at Zeebrugge, the only four double D.S.M’s for these two raids. Only 67 bars were awarded to the D.S.M. in the entire Great War.