Orders, Decorations and Medals (5 December 1995)

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Date of Auction: 5th December 1995

Unsold

Estimate: £800 - £1,000

A Second World War D.S.C. group of seven awarded to Commander D. L. Johnston, Royal Navy, who was mentioned in despatches for the sinking of the ‘Bismarck’

Distinguished Service Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse officially dated ‘1946’; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star; Burma Star; Italy Star; War Medal, M.I.D., mounted as worn, all unnamed as issued but sold with original M.I.D. certificate (Commander, R.N., H.M.S. Norfolk), named Buckingham Palace forwarding letter for D.S.C., and a portrait photograph, extremely fine (7)

Footnote

M.I.D. London Gazette 14 October, 1941: Commander (then Lt./Cdr) Duncan Lachlan Johnston, R.N., H.M.S. Norfolk, “...for masterly determination and skill in action against the German Battleship Bismarck.”

D.S.C. London Gazette 19 March, 1946 - Commander, R.N., H.M.S. Friendship, “...for great skill, efficiency and endurance during minesweeping operations off the Japanese held islands of Car Nicobar in July, 1945.”

The
Norfolk’s role throughout the pursuit of the Bismarck was a significant one and on at least one occasion she came under the Bismarck’s direct fire. The following extract was taken from “Pursuit”, by Ludovic Kennedy:
“...
Norfolk, meanwhile, fifteen miles away inside the fog, had picked up the first of Suffolk’s signals: her Captain Alfred Phillips was in his sea-cabin eating cheese on toast when the Yeoman of Signals burst in with the news. Phillips at once increased speed and steered for the open water, but in his eagerness not to lose touch, he misjudged the direction, and emerged from the fog to find Bismarck only six miles ahead, coming straight at him. This time there was no doubting her readiness. As Norfolk swung to starboard to get back to the safety of the fog, Bismarck’s guns roared in anger for the first time. On the Norfolk’s bridge they saw the ripple of the orange flashes and brown puffs of cordite smoke, heard the scream of the shells - a sound which some have likened to the tearing of linen and others to the approach of an express train. Admiral Wake-Walker saw the sea to starboard pocked with shell splinters, observed one complete burnished shell bounce off the water fifty yards away, ricochet over the bridge. Great columns of milk-white water rose in the air, two hundred feet high. Five salvoes in all Bismarck fired before Norfolk regained the mist: some straddled, and splinters came aboard; but there were no casualties or hits.”
The 8-inch guns of
Norfolk, alongside the heavier armaments of the Rodney and King George V, greatly contributed to the final bombardment of the Bismarck and as the Dorsetshire’s torpedoes delivered the coup-de-grâce, so ended one of the greatest threats ever placed upon allied convoys in the North Sea.

Johnston was promoted Commander on 30 June, 1941, and appointed to H.M.S.
Prince of Wales eight days later as Squadron Gunnery Officer and Staff Officer (Operations). It is not known whether he was still serving in Prince of Wales when that ship was lost later the same year. He is shown as serving aboard H.M.S. Uganda from 14 July, 1942, and in command of the minesweeper Friendship from April to October, 1945.