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

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £10,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

The highly emotive Second War 1941 Posthumous Albert Medal for Sea group of five awarded to Yeoman of the Signals G. P. McDowell, Royal Navy, who paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, having saved countless shipmates from the heavy swell surrounding the sinking destroyer H.M.S. Kandahar

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, reverse officially engraved ‘Awarded by The King to the late Acting Yeoman of Signals George Patrick McDowell, D/JX1432268. for Gallantry in saving the lives of many of his Shipmates when H.M.S. Kandahar was lost on 9th December 1941’; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; War Medal 1939-45, generally very fine or better (5) £6000-8000


Provenance: Spink, September 1992.

A.M. London Gazette 9 June 1942, Acting Yeoman of Signals G. P. McDowell, D/JX.143268 jointly listed with Leading Seaman C. Hambly, D/JX.133146:

‘When H.M.S. Kandahar was sinking, the heavy seas made it impossible for the rescuing destroyer to go alongside, and she was ordered to lie off and pick up survivors as they abandoned ship. Nets were hung over her side to help those below on rafts, or in the sea, to climb on board. Yeoman of Signals McDowell and Leading Seaman Hambly swam across to the destroyer, but though they themselves had the strength to reach the deck of the ship as she plunged in the heavy swell, with great devotion they chose to stay in the water to help those whose force was spent. In this way they saved many men, until they lost all their strength and were drowned.’

George Patrick McDowell was born in Lurgan, Co. Down, Ireland, in 1919, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy in 1935, serving in H.M.S. Ganges. Advanced to Acting Yeoman of the Signals, he served during the Second World War in the destroyer H.M.S. Kandahar. In the early hours of the morning of 19 December 1941 the cruiser Neptune, in company with the cruisers Aurora and Penelope and several destroyers including Kandahar, ran into an enemy minefield off Tripoli and was badly holed. Kandahar entered the minefield with the intention of taking the cruiser in tow, but also fouled a mine and sank the following day. Two officers and 70 ratings were lost, including McDowell. The 178 survivors were taken off by the destroyer Jaguar. McDowell is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Sold together with a photograph of the recipient.