Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 July 2017)

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000

An important battle of Jutland D.S.O. group of eleven awarded to Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes, G.C.B., Royal Navy, Flag Commander to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe at Jutland, and later Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet during the Norway campaign in 1940

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R.; 1914-15 Star (Commr. C. M. Forbes, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Capt. C. M. Forbes. R.N.); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Defence and War Medals; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937; Coronation 1953, mounted court style as worn, nearly extremely fine (11) £5000-6000


G.C.B. London Gazette 11 July 1940: ‘Admiral of the Fleet, Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet.’

D.S.O. London Gazette 15 September 1916: Jutland Gazette, with remarks of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. ‘Commander Charles Morton Forbes, R.N. My Flag Commander, who has always afforded me great assistance. This officer was Executive Officer of H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth during the whole period that ship was employed at the Dardanelles.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 6 July 1916 (Dardanelles), and 9 April 1920 (Russia 1919).

Order of St Stanislas, 2nd Class (with Swords) London Gazette 5 June 1917: ‘For distinguished service rendered in the battle of Jutland.

Charles Morton Forbes was born on 22 November 1880, second son of James Forbes, of Colombo, Ceylon. He was educated at Dollar Academy and Eastman’s Royal Naval Academy, Southsea. He joined the training ship Britannia as a cadet on 15 July 1894, was promoted to Midshipman in July 1896 and posted to the battleship Magnificent in the Channel Fleet in September 1896, and to the armoured cruiser Imperieuse on the Pacific Station in January 1898. Promoted to Acting Sub-Lieutenant in January 1900, he returned to the U.K. for his promotion courses, becoming Lieutenant in January 1901, and appointed to the battleship Royal Oak in the Mediterranean Fleet.

In early April 1902 Forbes transferred to the armoured cruiser Aboukir, also serving in the Mediterranean Fleet. After attending the gunnery school H.M.S. Excellent in 1903, he was assigned to Directing Staff at at the gunnery school H.M.S. Cambridge in June 1904. He then became gunnery officer in the armoured cruiser Carnarvon in the Mediterranean Fleet in May 1905 and gunnery officer in the battleship Dominion in the Channel Fleet in May 1908. After joining the staff of the Inspectorate of Target Practise in October 1910, he became gunnery officer in the battleship Superb in the Home Fleet in February 1911 and then, having been promoted to Commander in December 1912, he returned to the gunnery school H.M.S. Excellent in early 1913.

Forbes served as Executive Officer in the battleship Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean Fleet from November 1914 and saw action in the Dardanelles campaign in April 1915. He became Flag Officer to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, in the battleship Iron Duke in October 1915 and served in that capacity in the battle of Jutland in May 1916 for which he was awarded the D.S.O. and Order of St Stanislas. He moved on to become Flag Commander to Admiral Sir Charles Madden, Second-in-Command of the Grand Fleet, in the battleship Revenge in February 1917. Promoted to Captain in June 1917, he was given command of the cruiser Galatea in the Grand Fleet in July 1917, was present at the surrender of the German fleet in November 1918, and afterwards served in the campaign against the Bolsheviks in North Russia in 1919.

After the end of the war Forbes served as Naval Member of the Ordnance Committee from October 1919 and then, after attending the Senior Officers' course at the Royal Naval War College, he served as Deputy Director of the Royal Navy Staff College from August 1921. He became Flag Captain to the Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet in the battleship Queen Elizabeth in June 1923, Flag Captain to the Flag Officer Commanding the 3rd Battle Squadron in the battleship Iron Duke in October 1924 and Director of Naval Ordnance at the Admiralty in June 1925. He was appointed a naval aide-de-camp to the King on 12 April 1928. Promoted to Rear Admiral in October 1928 and appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in June 1929, he became Rear Admiral commanding the Destroyer Flotillas in the Mediterranean Fleet with his flag in the cruiser Coventry in August 1930 and Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy in March 1932. Promoted to Vice Admiral in January 1933, he became Vice Admiral commanding 1st Battle Squadron and Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet with his flag in the battleship Revenge in April 1934. Advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in June 1935, he redeployed his fleet from Malta to Alexandria to avoid attack by the Italian Navy at the start of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in October 1935. Promoted to full Admiral on 19 August 1936, he became Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet with his flag in the battleship Nelson in April 1938.

Forbes served in the Second World War initially as Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet in which role he transferred his flag to the battleship Rodney in December 1939. His fleet suffered heavy losses including the aircraft carrier Glorious and nine destroyers during the Norwegian Campaign in Spring 1940. He was on board Rodney when she came under air attack and was hit by a 500 kg (1,103 lb) bomb that pierced the armoured deck on 9 April 1940. Promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 8 May 1940, he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in July 1940. Despite these well deserved accolades Forbes was in disagreement with Churchill and the Admiralty over the deployment of ships on anti-invasion duties, believing instead that they would be better used in the Atlantic to protect merchant shipping. This eventually led to his removal from command of the Home Fleet in December 1940 and he was duly appointed Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in May 1941. In that capacity he organised the defence of Plymouth from air attack, prosecuted attacks on enemy shipping using the harbour at Brest as well as other ports along the French coast, and also initiated the St Nazaire Raid in March 1942. Later, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope was to say of Forbes during the invasion scare: ‘How right he was...He was in my opinion quite one of the soundest and best of our war admirals, and was never given credit for his doings. Winston and Brendan Bracken disliked him.’

After retiring on 24 August 1943, Forbes pursued his interests in golf and lived at Cawsand Place at Wentworth in Surrey. He attended the funeral of King George VI in February 1952 and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. He was twice married; firstly, in 1909, to Agnes Millicent, who died in 1915, daughter of J. A. Ewen, J.P., of Potters Bar, by whom he had a son and a daughter, and secondly, in 1921, to Marie Louise, daughter of Axel Berndston, of Stockholm, Sweden, by whom he had a daughter. He died at the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital in London on 28 August 1960.

Sold with two original portrait photographs, both in uniform, and four Admiralty House, Devonport, dinner seating plans 1942-43, and several copied photographs.