Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (9 & 10 May 2018)

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Date of Auction: 9th & 10th May 2018

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

An outstanding Great War ‘Western Front’ D.C.M., M.M. and Bar group of eight awarded to Sergeant David Watson, Royal Irish Regiment, formerly Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was killed in action aboard H.M.T. Lancastria when she was bombed and sunk by German JU-88s in June 1940, at which time he was serving as a Warrant Officer in the Cameron Highlanders with the B.E.F. having been evacuated from St Nazaire - The loss of the Lancastria was the largest single-ship loss of life in British maritime history with some estimates putting the casualties as high as 6,500 souls

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (18004 L. Cpl. D. Watson. 2/R. Ir: Regt.); Military Medal, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar (18004 Sjt: D. Watson. D.C.M. 2/R. Ir: R.); 1914-15 Star (6. 662 Pte. D. Watson, R. Muns. Fus.); British War and Victory Medals (622 Sjt. D. Watson. R. Mun. Fus.); 1939-45 Star; War Medal; Regular Army L.S. & G.C., G.V.R. (2923773 W.O. Cl. II. D. Watson. D.C.M., M.M. Camerons.) minor official correction to unit on the last, court mounted, generally very fine or better (8) £6000-8000


D.C.M. London Gazette 1 May 1918: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He himself shot several of the enemy who were offering resistance, and bombed the shafts of a trench system where they were holding out. He then, on his own initiative, collected a party of bombers, with which he successfully mopped up some enemy snipers, twelve of whom he took prisoners. Later he took out a covering party, remaining in a position whence he could protect a wiring party, only withdrawing when the wiring was complete. All through the engagement his fearlessness and initiative were beyond all praise.’

M.M. London Gazette 13 November 1918.

Bar to M.M. London Gazette 14 May 1919.

David Watson was from Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. He served with the Royal Munster Fusiliers in Gallipoli from 9 July 1915, before joining the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment in France. After the war he joined the Cameron Highlanders on 10 August 1921 and served until discharged to pension on 28 January 1937. He rejoined the Camerons on the outbreak of war in 1939 and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France. Following the fall of France and the evacuation of Dunkirk, Warrant Officer David Watson found himself retreating to St Nazaire to await evacuation. Operation Aerial was launched to effect the rescue of the remaining Allied troops and civilians from Atlantic ports, particularly St Nazaire and Nantes, from 15-15 June 1940. The Luftwaffe attacked the evacuation ships and on 17 June, evaded R.A.F. fighter patrols and sank the Cunard liner and troopship H.M.T. Lancastria in the Loire estuary. The ship sank quickly and vessels in the area were still under attack during rescue operations, which saved about 2,477 passengers and crew. The liner had thousands of troops, R.A.F. personnel and civilians on board and the number of the passengers who died in the sinking is unknown, because in the haste to embark as many people as possible, keeping count broke down. The loss of at least 3,500 people made the disaster the greatest loss of life in a British ship, which the British government tried to keep secret on the orders of Winston Churchill.

Warrant Officer David Watson, D.C.M., M.M. and Bar, who was killed on 17 June 1940, is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial.