Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (24 & 25 February 2016)
Date of Auction: 24th & 25th February 2016
Sold for £1,600
Estimate: £1,200 - £1,400
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 1st type breast badge, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1932; 1914-15 Star (Lt. R. H. De’Ath, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Commr. R. H. De’Ath, R.N.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; France, Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; Russia, Order of St. Stanislaus, 3rd Class breast badge, with swords, by Eduard, St. Petersburg, 39 x 39mm., gold and enamel, manufacturer’s name on reverse, kokoshnik marks for 1908-17 on sword hilts, unclear marks on eyelet, damage to the enamelled arm points of the Legion of Honour and some tooling to the reverse of the St. Stanislaus, otherwise very fine or better (8) £1200-1400
FootnoteO.B.E. London Gazette 1934.
Robert Holmes De’Ath was appointed a cadet in the Royal Navy in September 1904 and was serving as a Lieutenant aboard the cruiser H.M.S. Devonshire by the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914. A component of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Devonshire was charged with patrolling the Orkneys and Shetlands and the approaches to Norway and De’Ath was thus employed until removing to the destroyer Faulknor in April 1916.
He was subsequently present at Jutland, when Captain A. J. B. Stirling, R.N., leading the 12th Destroyer Flotilla in Faulknor, sighted a line of German battleships steering south-east. The flotilla launched a torpedo attack, De’Ath - as Faulknor’s Torpedo Officer - being much to the fore in the ensuing action; the enemy’s response was swift, a furious fire being brought down on the destroyers with 12- and 11-inch shells and, as the range closed to just 1,500 yards, smaller calibre guns. Yet the gallant foray undertaken by Faulknor and her consorts was rewarded by a torpedo strike on the Pommern, one of the latter’s magazines exploding with the consequent loss of her entire crew: 71 officers and 769 men.
Among those subsequently decorated was De’Ath, who was appointed a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour (London Gazette 15 September 1916, refers).
In January 1917, he removed to the destroyer Saumarez, in which ship he was advanced to Lieutenant-Commander and present in the inconclusive action fought in the Heligoland Bight in November of the same year. He was awarded the 3rd Class of the Russian Order of St. Stanislaus.
Post-war, De’Ath was advanced to Commander in June 1922 and served in the cruiser Cornwall on the China Station. He otherwise held senior appointments at Vernon, the torpedo establishment, and in the Department for Torpedoes and Mines at the Admiralty. He was awarded the O.B.E. and placed on the Retired List as a Captain in November 1934.
Recalled in the Second World War, De’Ath served for the duration of hostilities as an Assistant to the Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance at the Admiralty.