Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 September 2013)
Date of Auction: 19th & 20th September 2013
Sold for £6,200
Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000
Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamels; 1914-15 Star (Commr. R. Fitzmaurice, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Commr. R. Fitzmaurice, R.N.); Italy, Messina Earthquake Medal 1908, silver, unnamed as issued, mounted as worn, nearly extremely fine (5) £6000-8000
FootnoteD.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1916:
‘Commander Raymond Fitzmaurice, R.N. For his services in charge of the operation of blocking the Rufigi river to prevent the escape of the Königsberg on the 10th November, 1914. Commander Fitzmaurice was on board the collier Newbridge, which was sunk up the river, and was exposed to heavy fire at short range from both banks when entering the river and again when returning in the steam cutter of H.M.S. Chatham.’
Hedjaz Order of El Nahda, 2nd Class London Gazette 23 April 1920, conferred by His Majesty the King of the Hedjaz on Captain Raymond Fitzmaurice, D.S.O., R.N. (Note: the insignia of this order awarded to Captain Fitzmaurice was sold by Spink in their auction of 9 May 2002).
Order of the British Empire, K.B.E. (Military) London Gazette 1 January 1942; Vice-Admiral (Ret.) H.M.S. Eaglet.
M.I.D. London Gazette 6 April 1942: Vice-Admiral (Ret.), Convoy Commodore, for defence of Convoy HG 76 when 3 U-boats were sunk.
M.I.D. London Gazette 17 November 1942: Vice-Admiral (Ret.) H.M.S. Eaglet, for outstanding devotion to duty during three years arduous service as Commodore of Ocean Convoys.
Raymond Fitzmaurice was born on 7 August 1878, the son of John Gerald Fitzmaurice and Florence Augusta Marian Boyrenson. He entered the Navy on 15 January 1893 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1901. He served aboard H.M.S. Exmouth during the rescue operations following the earthquake at Messina in 1908 (Medal). As Lieutenant he was awarded the Royal Aero Club certificate, No. 447, on 1 April 1913, having flown a Short biplane out of the Central Flying School at Upavon.
Promoted to Commander in 1913 he was appointed 2nd in command of H.M.S. Chatham, in which vessel he was present at operations in East Africa against the Königsberg in 1914 (D.S.O.) and subsequent operations in the Dardanelles. Full details of the Königsberg operations will be found in E. Keble Chatterton’s excellent book The Königsberg Adventure. From 1916 to 1918 he was in command of H.M.S. Espiegle, serving under the command of Admiral Wemyss in support of the Arab revolt. T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) refers to Fitzmaurice in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom:
‘The Navy added greatly to our interests in Wejh. The Espiegle was sent by Boyle as station ship, with the delightful orders to 'do everything in her power to co-operate in the many plans which would be suggested to her by Colonel Newcombe, while letting it be clearly seen that she was conferring a favour'. Her commander Fitzmaurice (a good name in Turkey), was the soul of hospitality and found quiet amusement in our work on shore. He helped us in a thousand ways; above all in signalling; for he was a wireless expert, and one day at noon the Northbrook came in and landed an army wireless set, on a light lorry, for us. As there was no one to explain it, we were at a loss; but Fitzmaurice raced ashore with half his crew, ran the car to a fitting site, rigged the masts professionally, started the engine, and connected up to such effect that before sunset he had called the astonished Northbrook and held a long conversation with her operator. The station increased the efficiency of the base at Wejh and was busy day and night, filling the Red Sea with messages in three tongues, and twenty different sorts of army cypher-codes.’
Promoted to Captain in June 1918, Fitzmaurice was appointed Assistant Director of Naval Intelligence, and in 1919 was appointed Naval Advisor to Sir Reginald Tower, High Commissioner at Dantzig. Between the wars Fitzmaurice held a succession of commands including H.M. Ships Antrim (1921-22) and Yarmouth (1922-23), and after a spell as Director of the Signal Department, Admiralty, H.M.S. President, he commanded the dreadnoughts Resolution (1925-26) as Flag Captain and Chief Staff Officer, 2nd Battle Squadron, Iron Duke, 3rd Battle Squadron, and Marlborough. He was Vice-President Chemical Warfare Committee, London (1927-29), and Naval A.D.C. to the King (1929).
He retired in 1929 but on the outbreak of war he was recalled and appointed a Commodore of Ocean Convoys in September 1939. His most notable achievement was as Commodore of convoy HG 76, homeward bound from Gibraltar in December 1941. Fitzmaurice, in Spero, had 30 Merchant ships in his charge and was accompanied by the 36th Escort Group under Commander F. J. Walker in H.M.S. Stork. The convoy arrived in Britain shortly after Christmas, 1941, heaving been subjected to exceptionally determined and sustained attack by U-boats and long-range aircraft. Three of the attacking U-boats were sunk by the escort and although two merchantmen, amounting to 6,000 tons, together with the destroyer Stanley and auxiliary vessel Audacity were lost, HG 76 was considered to be the first victorious convoy and became the blueprint for future convoy protection. Fitzmaurice received a well-deserved knighthood in the following New Year Honours list of 1942, as well as two mentions in despatches later the same year. Vice-Admiral Sir William Fitzmaurice died suddenly on 25 October 1943, aged 65.