Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (1 & 2 March 2017)

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £850

Estimate: £400 - £500

A Second War Honorary M.B.E. and Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea group of five awarded to Third Officer H. V. Nielsen, M.V. Empire Knight, for his gallantry when the vessel broke up and sank off the coast of Maine, 11-12 February 1944

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Civil) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, silver; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; War Medal 1939-45; Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea, silver (Third Officer H. V. Nielsen, M.V. “Empire Knight”, 11th. February, 1944.) scratch to obverse field of last, good very fine and better (5) £400-500


Helge Vemer Nielsen, a Danish national, the Third Officer of the Empire Knight, was appointed an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire, and also awarded the Lloyd’s Silver Medal for Saving Life at Sea for his gallantry when the Empire Knight sank off the coast of Maine, 11-12 February 1944.

‘On 8th January 1944, the M.V. Empire Knight sailed from Loch Ewe ballasted in convoy for Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then arrived at St. John, New Brunswick on 26th January to load cargo. Laden with war supplies for Bombay and Calcutta, the ship sailed from St. John on 10th February for New York and Norfolk, Virginia to continue loading. At 2:30 p.m. the following day (Friday 11th February) the vessel crashed onto Boon Island Ledge, 12 miles off York Beach, Maine, in a driving blizzard, and was pounded overnight by terrific seas. On Saturday morning she broke in two, the forward part remaining fast on the ledge and the after part consisting of the superstructure and stern (with all the crew) floating away in heavy seas, later to sink in 175 feet of water. Rescue ships stood by the floating wreck, but could not get close enough to take off the crew. Most of the ship’s life saving equipment was washed overboard or smashed when the vessel split and some rafts capsized as soon as they hit the water. The rescue craft and United States Navy vessels rendered daring service picking up twenty survivors in the mountainous seas, landing thirteen of them at Portland, Maine, and seven at Portsmouth, Maine. Twenty-four of the crew were lost, including the master, but only thirteen bodies were later recovered.’

The Second Cook, also a Danish national, was awarded an honorary British Empire Medal.