Orders, Decorations and Medals (8 September 2015)

Date of Auction: 8th September 2015

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

Family group:

‘He is perfectly cool under fire and is of a cheerful disposition.’

One of Kenneth Badcock’s many glowing statements on Kenneth Badcock’s service record, as penned by Commodore R. Tyrwhitt in 1916.

A fine Great War D.S.O., D.S.C. group of eight awarded to Paymaster Captain K. E. Badcock, Royal Navy, who served as Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt’s secretary throughout the war, as a consequence of which he was present at a number of notable actions fought by the Harwich Force: at Heligoland Bight in August 1914, he attended the Admiral on the bridge of the cruiser H.M.S. Arethusa throughout the action and was mentioned in despatches

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel; Distinguished Service Cross, G.V.R., hallmarks for London 1917; 1914-15 Star (Asst. Payr. K. E. Badcock, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Payr. Lt. Cr. K. E. Badcock, R.N.); Coronation 1911; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937, together with a set of related miniature dress medals and a tunic riband bar, obverse centre of the D.S.O. slightly recessed, otherwise good very fine

The Second World War campaign group of three awarded to Midshipman C. D. E. Badcock, Royal Navy, among those who lost their lives on the occasion the cruiser H.M.S. Neptune was mined off Tripoli in December 1941

1939-45 Star; Africa Star; War Medal 1939-45, in their addressed card box of issue with related Admiralty condolence slip in the name of ‘Midshipman Charles David Edgar Badcock, R.N.’, and a letter of condolence to his mother from an officer serving in H.M.S. Jackal, dated 25 April 1942, extremely fine

The Second World War campaign group of four awarded to Sub. Lieutenant C. F. Badcock, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted as worn, together with a set of related miniature dress medals, good very fine (Lot) £2500-3000


D.S.O. London Gazette 21 June 1919:

‘For distinguished services as Secretary to Rear-Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, K.C.B., D.S.O., throughout the war.’

D.S.C. London Gazette 14 September 1917:

‘For services in the Harwich Force.’

Kenneth Edgar Badcock was born in February 1886 and entered the Royal Navy as an Assistant Clerk in July 1903.

Promoted to Assistant Paymaster in February 1907, he was appointed secretary to Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, R.N., shortly before the outbreak of the Great War. It was the beginning of a long chapter of devoted and loyal service, for he remained similarly employed until Tyrwhitt hauled down his flag for a final time in May 1933, by which stage his boss was an Admiral of the Fleet with a G.C.B. and D.S.O. to his credit. It is said that Badcock suffered from a stammer yet he stood up to his senior and spoke his mind. As Dick Witte observed in Fringes of the Fleet, ‘the Admiral liked that.’

August 1914 - Heligoland Bight

It would also be fair to say that the Admiral liked nothing more than getting to grips with the enemy, a contention admirably supported by the fact that he left a string of severely damaged flagships in his wake. An early case in point would be the memorable engagement fought in the Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914, when Tyrwhitt, senior officer of the Harwich Force, was flying his flag in H.M.S. Arethusa, accompanied by another light cruiser, the Fearless, and around thirty ships from the 1st and 3rd Destroyer Flotillas. At the last moment, providentially as it turned out, the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron under Vice-Admiral Beatty was ordered to join Tyrwhitt’s force. Sea Battles, by Michael Sanderson, takes up the story:

‘In the early morning haze Tyrwhitt began his sweep towards Heligoland but soon ran into trouble. The Germans had some inkling of the pending attack and, instead of sending out their usual patrols, concentrated all available forces. In a series of confused engagements between 8 and 11.30 a.m., Tyrwhitt was in hot action with six enemy light cruisers, which were later joined by two more. Although the Fraunenlob was hit and retired, the Harwich Force was in danger of being overwhelmed when the Arethusa and three destroyers were repeatedly hit and damaged. At 11.25 a.m. Tyrwhitt sent out an urgent call to Beatty, who was forty miles north of Heligoland, unaware of the critical situation developing. Fortunately he decided to intervene and came south at full speed straight to the Bight. The arrival of the British battle cruisers on the scene at 12.40 p.m. proved decisive. The Koln (flagship of Rear-Admiral Maas), Ariadne and Mainz were crippled and later sank; the remaining German light cruisers quickly scattered. Shortly afterwards the British forces set course for home.’

Such was the extent of the damage sustained by the Arethusa that she had to be taken in tow; Badcock was duly mentioned in Tyrwhitt’s despatch: ‘My secretary who attended me on the bridge throughout the entire action’ (London Gazette 21 October 1914, refers).

Cuxhaven - Dogger Bank - loss of the “Arethusa” - the Lowestoft raid

The Arethusa repaired, Tyrwhitt led the naval force assigned to the Cuxhaven Raid on Christmas Day 1914, when our seaplanes were successfully deployed in the first ever carrier air strike. Next up was the action at Dogger Bank on 24 January 1915, when Tyrwhitt’s Harwich Force was once more reunited with Admiral Beatty’s 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron, another memorable action in which Rear-Admiral Hipper’s flagship the Seydlitz was severely damaged and the cruiser Blücher sunk.

In fact, Tyrwhitt’s deserved reputation for dash and daring was well-established before Jutland. A member of his staff stated that everyone in the Harwich Force ‘would have done anything for him ... he would go hell for leather after the Germans.’ It was a view probably shared by his faithful secretary but such daring came at a cost. Peter Liddle’s The Sailor’s War takes up the story:

‘In February 1916, Tyrwhitt’s flagship, Arethusa, struck a mine and actually broke in two. When an accompanying destroyer came alongside to render aid, Tyrwhitt shouted from the bridge, ‘Go away I’m not sinking’. He wanted and achieved, remembered Pertwee [a member of his staff], an orderly, calm, abandoning of the ship. A month later with his Commodore’s pennant transferred to Cleopatra, this light cruiser deliberately rammed and cut in two a German destroyer encountered with her sister ships at night. Damage to Cleopatra’s stern from an accidental collision with a British ship in this incident necessitated a further transfer of his pennant to Conquest.’

As it transpired - predictably it might be said - the Commodore’s battle scarred pennant’s sojourn in Conquest was short-lived, for he made a gallant foray against the German Battle Cruiser Squadron sent to bombard Lowestoft on 25 April 1916. The inferior Harwich Force - pitched against four German battle cruisers and six light cruisers - first encountered the enemy at 3.50 a.m. Having failed to draw the enemy cruisers after him, Tyrwhitt turned towards them and fought a ferocious 13-minute duel, the Conquest taking severe punishment in the process. Hit by five 12-inch shells, her casualties amounted to 36 officers and ratings killed or wounded. Lowestoft had suffered severely, too, but without Tyrwhitt’s intervention the destruction would have been far worse.

His pennant was thereafter to flutter defiantly from the Carysfort, until a more suitable replacement ship could be spared, and the Harwich Force continued to lend valuable support. By way of example cover was given to the Dover Patrol’s bombardment of Zeebrugge and Ostend in May 1917 and, two months later, a German attempt to resurrect sea traffic between Rotterdam and the Heligoland Bight was curtailed by Tyrwhitt’s bold intervention; Zeebrugge and Ostend were re-visited during the famous raids in April 1918.

It was a remarkable wartime record, culminating in the surrender of scores of U-Boats off Harwich, a record shared throughout by Badcock. He was awarded the D.S.O. and D.S.C.; Tyrwhitt, who had been appointed a C.B. for Heligoland Bight in 1914, was raised to K.C.B. and also awarded the D.S.O.

Post-Great War

As stated, Badcock remained employed as Tyrwhitt’s secretary until May 1933, when the Admiral hauled down his pennant for a final time. As a consequence he served ashore in Gibraltar, at sea with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean and in China at the time of the disturbances with the Nationalist Government in the mid-1920s. Having then served throughout Tyrwhitt’s time as C.-in-C., The Nore, he was advanced to Paymaster Captain in 1935 and placed on the Retired List shortly before the renewal of hostilities in 1939. He died in January 1947.

Charles David Edgar Badcock was aged 18 at the time of his loss in the cruiser Neptune on 19 December 1941. He had been appointed a Midshipman in the same year. The cruiser was acting as flagship to Force K, a raiding squadron charged with the interception of German and Italian convoys supporting Rommel’s forces in North Africa. On the night of 19-20 December 1941, immediately after the fleet engagement off Sirte, Neptune struck two mines off Tripoli; her consorts Aurora and Penelope suffered a similar fate. On attempting to clear the minefield, Neptune struck two further mines but her damaged consorts were unable to offer assistance and she capsized with a loss of 737 officers and men.

Writing from H.M.S. Jackal to his mother in July 1942, Lieutenant John Boyle, R.N.V.R., said: ‘In the short time he was with us we had all come to love your son as one of the most charming people we had ever met and people like him can very ill be spared’. Badcock has no known grave and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Colin Francis Badcock, who was born in October 1925, was appointed an Acting Sub. Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in April 1945 and ended the war with an appointment in the Hunt-class escort destroyer H.M.S. Melbreak.