Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (18 & 19 July 2018)

Date of Auction: 18th & 19th July 2018

Sold for £7,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A Second War 1944 Posthumous Albert Medal for Sea group of five awarded to Lieutenant D. M. Connor, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, for his gallantry in trying to control and contain fire and explosions aboard a motor launch in Beirut harbour, 5 March 1944

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, reverse officially engraved ‘Awarded by The King to the late Lt. Douglas Mortimer Connor, R.N.V.R. H.M. M.L. 387 for Gallantry in saving life at sea, 5th March 1944’; 1939-45 Star; Pacific Star; Atlantic Star; War Medal 1939-45, campaign awards impressed ‘Boots style’ ‘T/Lieut. Douglas M. Connor R.N.V.R.’, mounted for wear, nearly extremely fine (5) £6000-8000


Provenance: Sotheby’s, July 1981 and Christie’s, November 1989.

A.M. London Gazette 19 December 1944:

‘On 5th March, 1944, fire broke out in the starboard corner of the engine room of one of H.M. Motor Launches at Beirut. An explosion occurred immediately afterwards and the fire spread rapidly throughout the ship. Lieutenant Connor straightaway organised all the fire-fighting gear on board and sent a runner to inform Coastal Forces base and Naval Base so that the civilian and Naval fire-fighting organisation might be got into action as soon as possible. The heat from the burning ship was intense and it was well known that with the burning high octane petrol the ship was likely to blow up at any moment.

The burning ship was a grave menace to other shipping berthed alongside and Lieutenant Connor made valiant efforts to make fast a tow line so that she could be towed out of the port. So great was the heat, however, that the tow line parted. At about 19.15 a third and more violent explosion occurred in which Lieutenant Connor lost his life.

Lieutenant Connor well knew the risks involved, but sacrificed his life in an endeavour to prevent the spread of the fire which might well have become a major conflagration involving the loss of many lives.’

Douglas Mortimer Connor was a native of Trowbridge, Wiltshire. He was commissioned Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 14 August 1942. Connor commanded H.M. Motor Launch 387, and was awarded the Albert Medal posthumously for his gallantry after an explosion occurred on his vessel whilst she was berthed in Beirut harbour, 5 March 1944. ML 1007, ML 1143 (Free French), ML 1158 and ML 1164 (Free French) were engaged in the fire fighting. Sadly it was to no avail, as ML 387 blew up killing her commanding officer in the process. Four men were mentioned in despatches.

Lieutenant Connor is buried in Beirut War Cemetery, Lebanon.