Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 September 2013)

Date of Auction: 19th & 20th September 2013

Sold for £8,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A rare Second World War C.G.M. group of five awarded to Able Seaman G. H. Wright, Royal Navy, who was decorated for exceptional gallantry as Director Trainer in H.M.S. Hastings off Rosyth in March 1941: dangerously wounded in the stomach during an enemy aircraft attack, he remained at his post up until the cease fire was ordered, when ‘he could hold out no longer’ and collapsed - an act of bravery which closely mirrored the deeds enacted by V.C. winner Leading Seaman Jack Mantle off Portland in July 1940

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, G.VI.R. (J. 111032 G. H. Wright, A.B., H.M.S. Hastings); Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Palestine 1936-1939 (J. 111032 G. H. Wright, A.B., R.N.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue (J. 111032 G. H. Wright, A.B., H.M.S. Hastings), generally good very fine (5) £6000-8000

Footnote

C.G.M. London Gazette 8 April 1941.

‘For great gallantry and devotion to duty. When H.M.S.
Hastings was attacked by enemy aircraft with machine-gun fire, Able Seaman Wright, the Director Trainer, was dangerously wounded. Though in great pain he kept his courage and carried on with his duties until the cease-fire, when he could hold out no longer. Even then his cheerfulness did not fail.’

The original recommendation states:

‘When H.M.S.
Hastings was attacked by enemy aircraft with machine-gun fire on 1 March [1941], Able Seaman Wright, the Director Trainer, was dangerously wounded in the stomach. Although in great pain, this rating showed great courage and devotion to duty in immediately resuming and carrying out his duty until the cease fire was ordered, when he collapsed. This action and his subsequent unfailing cheerfulness set a very high example. Able Seaman Wright is at present in the R.N. Hospital Port Edgar, where his condition is serious.’

George Henry Wright was, as stated, serving aboard the sloop H.M.S.
Hastings, under Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Alison, R.N., at the time of the above related action.

His ship had been employed in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea prior to returning to home waters in 1937 and, on the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, was assigned to Rosyth for convoy defence work in the North Sea and in waters off the East Coast, in which capacity, in late November of that year, she picked up 37 survivors from the S.S.
Ionian which had been mined off the Newarp Lighthouse.

Of events off Rosyth on 1 March 1941, Lieutenant-Commander Alison stated in his official report that the attacks comprised ‘three machine-gun attacks from about 50 feet and one low-level bombing attack’, in response to which
Hastings fired ‘18 rounds of 4-inch controlled fire, a short burst from the 0.5 machine-gun until it would not bear, and the port Lewis gun from the signal bridge’. Of the enemy’s fire, three machine-gun bullets found their mark, one of them seriously wounding Wright, while one of Hastings’ 4-inch patterns was seen to burst close to the aircraft and additional fire from her Lewis gun at 600 yards probably caused damage; so, too, rounds from the 0.5 gun before it ceased to bear at 1000 yards range; sold with a file of research.