Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2015)

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Date of Auction: 22nd July 2015

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

An exceptional Second World War submariner’s D.S.M. and Bar group of nine awarded to Petty Officer S. “Stan” Hawkey, Royal Navy, who was described by his wartime skipper Lieutenant-Commander L. W. A. Bennington - himself the winner of two D.S.Os and three D.S.Cs - as ‘utterly fearless’: indeed Hawkey survived many close calls, including four days under relentless attack in the Porpoise during a ‘Malta Magic Carpet’ trip - according to the Admiralty ‘one of the heaviest depth-charge attacks ever made on a British submarine’ - and the occasion on which the propellers of a Japanese torpedo boat sliced up Tally Ho’s ballast tanks ‘like crackling on pork ’

Distinguished Service Medal, G.VI.R., with Second Award Bar (JX. 127066 S. Hawkey, A.B., R.N.); Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Palestine 1936-1939 (JX. 127066 S. Hawkey, A.B., R.N.); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star, clasp, North Africa 1942-43; Burma Star, clasp, Pacific; Italy Star; War Medal 1939-45; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue (JX. 127066 S. Hawkey, A.B., R.N., H.M.S. Tally-Ho), mounted as worn, generally good very fine (9) £6000-8000

Footnote

D.S.M. London Gazette 29 December 1942:

‘For distinguished services in successful patrols in H.M. submarines.’

Bar to D.S.M. London Gazette 20 February 1945:

‘For outstanding courage, skill and undaunted devotion to duty in successful patrols in H.M. submarine Tally Ho.’

The original recommendation states:

‘For coolness and courage in the face of the enemy. Leading Seaman Hawkey is the 4-inch gun trainer in H.M.S. Tally Ho. He is utterly fearless, his coolness in action has had a valuable steadying effect upon the younger members of the gun’s crew, and his skill has contributed to the destruction by gunfire of an enemy warship and fourteen other vessels.’

Stanley Hawkey was born in St. Columb, Cornwall in February 1911 and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class in May 1926. Having then been advanced to Able Seaman, he transferred to the submarine branch in May 1938 and qualified as a member of gun crew in H.M. submarine Starfish.

‘Porpoise Carrier Service’ - D.S.M.

In February 1939, Hawkey joined H.M. submarine Porpoise, and it was in this capacity, after participating in hazardous mine-laying operations off Norway, that he won his first D.S.M. for assorted war patrols in the Mediterranean between November 1941 and October 1942, latterly under the command of Lieutenant Leslie Bennington, D.S.C., R.N. - who would win a D.S.O. and a Bar to his D.S.C. in the same period.

Much of this service was spent on the Malta run, namely hazardous but essential supply trips with fuel, munitions and general supplies for the besieged island. David Thomas’s Submarine Victory takes up the story:

The spring of 1941 was a period of incessant air raids upon Malta, and it was not until Hitler launched his foolish Russian campaign in mid-summer that the German raids ended, although the Regia Aeronautica carried on the aerial battle.

One other method of supplying Malta existed - submarines. At Alexandria the minelayers of the 1st Flotilla and the large 'P' Class boats had given sterling service, but they were now called upon to act as submerged cargo carriers, a service which became known as the Magic Carpet Service to Malta.

The first submarine to take on this duty was Porpoise, and her contribution was the greatest of all those boats which participated. She ended the Magic Carpet Service with her own special flag bearing the initials P.C.S. denoting Porpoise Carrier Service.

The islanders looked forward to the arrival of convoys and our cargo-carrying submarines with such avidity that their arrival was cause for cheers and waves of welcome. When such interest is taken in naval matters by landlubbers in times of stress and anxiety an odd story or two intrudes now and then. Legend has it that on one occasion Porpoise arrived with her torpedo tubes stuffed full with sausages. And for all we know, legend may be truth! Indeed, these submarines were crammed to the nth degree by sailors knowing they had only to suffer the intensely cramped conditions for a few days. Every effort was made by the sailors to stuff into every nook and cranny as much as was humanly possible consistent with the safety of the boat - and even this factor may have had a blind eye turned upon it in the interests of succouring Malta.

In addition to Porpoise the four large submarines Cachalot, Parthian, Regent and Rorqual were adapted for this service. The supplies of petrol they carried filled a proportion of their fresh-water tanks, fuel tanks and even main ballast tanks. One section of their batteries was even removed to provide more space for cargo. Nor were these cargo-carrying runs purely operations of mercy. They were patrols - offensive in nature - usually with tubes loaded with twenty-one-inch torpedoes and not sausages. The gallant Porpoise suffered the experience of more than eighty depth-charges in four days on one of these missions. She made in all nine of these trips.’

That mission occurred in mid-August 1942, the Admiralty describing the enemy’s relentless assault as ‘one of the heaviest depth-charge attacks ever made on a British submarine’: in fact Porpoise endured the detonation of no less than 87 depth-charges, the ‘score’ being calmly logged by Hawkey on a board in the submarine’s control room.

The assault commenced after Bennington had torpedoed the Italian merchantman Lerici about 120 nautical miles off Libya, two escorting enemy destroyers and two torpedo boats delivering a protracted 60 depth-charge attack. Notwithstanding the ferocity of the enemy’s response, Bennington renewed his attack on enemy shipping off Tobruk, as a result of which Porpoise attracted the wrath of yet another enemy destroyer:

‘The destroyer passed overhead and dropped a depth-charge which exploded very close to the submarine. Porpoise was badly shaken, some lights were extinguished and large quantities of corking were dislodged from the deck head, and shortly afterwards fumes and smoke were observed coming from No. 1 Section of the Main Battery. No. 1 Battery was isolated to prevent the spreading of fumes through the submarine. After the first depth-charge attack the destroyer continued in a northerly direction for about three minutes. She then turned back for another run. She then passed astern and dropped four depth-charges which were unpleasantly close and damaged No. 2 and No. 3 Sections of the Battery. Further attacks then followed in quick succession and on each occasion the enemy appeared to be in firm contact. The enemy made a total of 12 attack runs but depth-charges were only dropped during the best runs. Altered course to 210 degrees. The enemy was not able to make contact as easy as before but when she did the attacks were as carefully conducted as before … Altogether the enemy dropped 27 depth-charges. All were very close’ (Bennington’s report refers).

On discovering the extent of the damage caused Porpoise when he was able to surface that evening, Bennington signalled for assistance and the crippled submarine was escorted into Port Said by two destroyers and a fighter escort.

Hawkey was awarded the D.S.M., which distinction he received at a Buckingham Palace investiture held on 16 March 1943.

Tally Ho - Bar to D.S.M.

Removing to the Tally Ho with his old skipper at the end of the same month, Hawkey remained similarly employed until early 1945, initially on war patrols off Norway, Gibraltar and the South of France but afterwards in the Far East. It was for gallant deeds in this latter theatre of war that he was awarded his second D.S.M., while Bennington added a Bar to his D.S.O. and a Second Bar to his D.S.C. in the same period. Here then, evidence of a remarkable period of operations, in the course of which skipper and crew had to endure appalling conditions. Submarine Victory, by David A. Thomas, sets the scene:

‘Submarine operations got into full swing in the new year of 1944. Boats were being sent to patrol the shallow waters of the Malacca Straits.

All waters are dangerous for submarines in wartime, as we have read; the northern waters of Norway, with their long daylight hours; the Arctic ones with their ice hazards; the shallows off the coast of Europe; the shallows and clarity of the Mediterranean. Now, in the East, submarines were subjected to the peculiar hazards of these oriental waters. Clear, shallow seas are dangerous in themselves. But the Malacca Straits and similar Eastern waters were not always reliably charted. This is no reflection on the magnificent work of the Admiralty's Hydrographic Department. Accurate charts demand frequent surveys to locate shifting sandbanks and similar peculiarities. Commanders and navigators were constantly perturbed by depths which failed to correspond with those shown on the charts. And the knowledge that there is plenty of sea room in depth is one of the many things commanders like to have when launching an attack.

Another aspect of this campaign was the long distance from base to billet.  A passage of one thousand miles from Trincomalee was not uncommon. The thought of being damaged on patrol with such a long haul back to base was one which commanders kept constantly in mind.

Perhaps the most worrying personal aspect of submarine service in those tropical waters was the heat. All sailors - in surface vessels as well as in submarines - are familiar with prickly heat, but the sailor in surface vessels rarely had to contend with the suffocating conditions in a submarine after a few hours of submersion. The electric motors generate heat while they are running, and this heat is circulated through the boat until conditions become almost intolerable.

The rig of the day became a sarong or towel wrapped round the waist; the crew were near naked as the sweat ran down in streams all over one's body. Temperatures of well over 100 degrees were typical while in motor-rooms 120 degrees was often reached.’

In terms of a full account of Tally Ho’s operations in the Far East, interested parties are referred to Ian Trenowden’s excellent history, The Hunting Submarine - The Fighting Life of H.M.S. Tally-Ho. By way of summary, however, there follows a list of the submarine’s major engagements in the Far East, commencing with her first war patrol in late 1943:

6 November 1943: attack against the U-178 off Penang. Five torpedoes fired, followed by surface pursuit. Unsuccessful owing to arrival of enemy submarine chaser.

8 November 1943: depth-charged off Penang - ‘first pattern rather close and damaged depth gauge.’

10 November 1943: torpedoes and sinks the Japanese water carrier Kisogawa Maru in the northern part of the Malacca Strait - ‘fired five torpedoes from 2600 yards’ and ‘a tremendous explosion was seen to blow the enemy to pieces.’

11 December 1943: performs a ‘special mission’.

5 January 1944: performs another ‘special mission’.

11 January 1944: torpedoes and sinks the Japanese cruiser Kuma north-west of Penang but then faces counter-attack by an enemy destroyer.

15 February 1944: torpedoes and sinks the ex-Italian submarine UIT-23 in the Straits of Malacca.

21 February: torpedoes and sinks the Japanese army cargo ship Daigen Maru No. 6 in the Straits of Malacca.

24 February 1944: hair-raising encounter on the surface with a Japanese torpedo boat - rammed and seriously damaged, her ballast tanks being sliced ‘like crackling on pork’.

14 May 1944: following extensive repairs at Colombo, Tally-Ho returns to operations with a mine-laying mission.

17 May 1944: launches an unsuccessful torpedo attack against the U-532.

22 August 1944: sinks a Japanese coaster with gunfire in the Straits of Malacca.

24 August 1944: sinks three Japanese junks with gunfire.

4 October 1944: has an inconclusive engagement with a Japanese coaster and torpedo boat.

6 October 1944: sinks a Japanese auxiliary submarine chaser with gunfire on the surface, but Tally-Ho’s gunnery officer is mortally wounded by the enemy’s return fire.

9 November 1944: carries out a ‘special mission’ with an O.S.S.-sponsored Free Thai team bound for Siam. Landed at Ko Kradan, Trang Province, on this date.

17-18 November 1944: sinks ten Japanese sailing vessels with gunfire off Langkawi and elsewhere.

20 November 1944: torpedoes and sinks the Japanese auxiliary minelayer Ma 4 off the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island - torpedoes set to six feet.

23 November 1944: completes her 12th wartime patrol and departs for home waters, arriving back in Portsmouth on 19 January 1945.

The sinking of the Japanese cruiser Kuma off Penang was by any standards a spectacular achievement, Bennington despatching a ‘hose-pipe salvo’ of seven torpedoes, two of which found their mark with devastating results. But, as confirmed by an accompanying newspaper report, the enemy’s ensuing response nearly ended in Tally Ho’s demise:

‘While making her escape, Tally Ho was hit by depth charges. One side of the submarine was holed in many places, and the crew thought they would never reach port safely. However, by skilful and careful manoeuvring the submarine was coaxed on to her undamaged side and was brought home.’

Hawkey, who had been awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal at Colombo in March 1944, received the Bar to his D.S.M. at a Buckingham Palace investiture on 20 July 1945, an investiture also attended by Bennington and other members of Tally Ho’s crew.

Released from the service as a Petty Officer in December 1945, he served in the R.F.R. 1947-52 and died in Liverpool in 1970, where he had settled after his marriage in November 1939.

Sold with a copied record of the recipient’s extensive wartime scrapbook, the original of which is held in the collection of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport, comprising newspaper reports, service record, photographs and much besides; together with a separate file of research, including extensive war patrol reports for the Tally Ho.