Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (8 & 9 May 2019)

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Date of Auction: 8th & 9th May 2019


Estimate: £2,800 - £3,200

The unique ‘British Naval Mission to Greece’ M.B.E. group of ten awarded to Acting Warrant Armourer F. J. Carter, Royal Navy, who first saw action in the Dongola Expedition in 1896; subsequently appointed an honorary Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Hellenic Navy, he was present at assorted battles and engagements in the Greco-Turkish War of 1912-13 and the Greco-Bulgarian War of 1913, and was appointed to the Royal Orders of the Redeemer and George I and awarded the Greek Medal of Military Merit

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Military) Member’s 1st type breast badge, silver, hallmarks for London 1919; British War Medal 1914-20 (Wt. Arm. F. J. Carter, R.N.); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., E.VII.R. (147655 F. J. Carter, Ch. Armourer, H.M.S. Vivid); Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, no clasp (F. J. Carter, H.M.S. Melita, 1896), engraved naming; Greece, Royal Order of the Redeemer, 5th Class breast badge, silver, gold and enamel; Greece, Royal Order of George I, 5th Class breast badge, silver and enamel; Greece, Medal of Military Merit 1916, 4th Class; Greco-Turkish War Medal 1912-13, no clasp; Greco-Bulgarian War Medal 1913, no clasp; Greece, Victory Medal 1918, official type, together with a set of related miniature dress medals (excluding the Order of George I), and a uniform ribbon bar, some enamel damage to the Greek Redeemer otherwise generally good very fine (Lot) £2,800-£3,200


M.B.E. London Gazette 17 July 1919: ‘For valuable services with the British Naval Mission to Greece.’

Frederick James Carter was born at Highweek, near Newton Abbey, Devon, in September 1870 and entered the Royal Navy for service as Armourer’s Crew in January 1889. One of his first seagoing appointments was in the sloop H.M.S. Egaria (1889-93), in which period the ship was employed on survey work off the coast of Australia.

Advanced to Armourer’s Mate in August 1895, he joined the composite screw gun vessel Melita at the year’s end and was present in the Dongola operations in the Nile Flotilla in March-September 1896, thereby gaining entitlement to one of 139 Khedive’s Medals awarded to the ship’s company - one of a total of 288 such awards to the Royal Navy. Having then been awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal in February 1908, Carter was pensioned ashore as a Chief Armourer in January 1911.

However, with the Admiralty’s approval, he quickly transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy as a Sub-Lieutenant, joining the armoured cruiser H.H.M.S. Averof at Devonport that August. With the advent of the First Balkan War, Carter quickly saw action, the Averof acting as the flagship of Admiral Kountouriotis and participating in the take-over of the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean.

In the battles off Elli on 3 December 1912, and off Lemnos on 5 January 1913, the Averof almost single-handedly secured victory and the undisputed control of the Aegean for Greece. On both occasions, Admiral Kountouriotis acted independently, steaming off in pursuit of the Turkish fleet at 20 knots and inflicting significant damage to several adversaries. Averof was herself slightly damaged but her exploits propelled her to legendary status in Greece and her crew affectionately nicknamed her ‘Lucky Uncle George’: today, the cruiser survives as a floating museum at Palaio Faliro.

Further operations in the Greco-Bulgarian War having followed, Carter was appointed to the Salonica Dockyards, in which capacity he was awarded the Royal Order of George I in the period leading up to the Great War.

On the outbreak of hostilities, he was ‘specially exempted from mobilisation’ by the Admiralty on account of his position in the Royal Hellenic Navy, his R.N. service record further noting the Naval Intelligence Department’s agreement to his ongoing employment in Greece in 1917, where indeed it must be surmised he was acting out an intelligence role, under the auspices of his appointment to the British Naval Mission in Athens.

In addition to his subsequent award of the M.B.E., which was despatched by the Foreign Office to Athens ‘for presentation to officer’ in October 1920, Foreign Office records confirm that Carter was forwarded the diploma for his Greek Order of the Redeemer, 5th Class, in February 1918 (T.N.A. FO 372-1135, refers):

‘Mr. Carter is a British Warrant Officer and has been employed for some years as a Greek Officer in the Salonica Dockyards. He is a Sub. Lieutenant in the Greek Naval Service and is at present a Member of the British Naval Mission to Greece.’

And, as per the Official Roll of Naval War Medals 1914-1920, Carter was entitled to a single British War Medal 1914-20 (T.N.A. ADM 171/89, refers).