Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (25 & 26 September 2019)

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Date of Auction: 25th & 26th September 2019

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £3,600 - £4,600

A rare Great War ‘North Russia’ O.B.E. and remarkable Second World War D.S.C. group of ten awarded to Lieutenant-Commander A. E. Lockington, Royal Naval Reserve, who in 1942 commanded the two-masted schooner Farouk which, at his own suggestion, had been converted in Alexandria to a Q-ship, armed with two hidden guns, and was sunk by U-83 in a heroic but futile action in June 1942

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 1st type breast badge, the reverse hallmarked London 1919; Distinguished Service Cross, G.VI.R., the reverse hallmarked London 1942, and officially dated 1942; 1914-15 Star (Lieut. A. E. Lockington. R.N.R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. A. E. Lockington. R.N.R.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; War Medal; Russia, Order of St Stanislas, 2nd Class neck badge with swords, bronze-gilt and enamels, with short neck cravat, some solder repairs to eagles and swords on the last, otherwise nearly extremely fine (10) £3,600-£4,600

Footnote

O.B.E. (Military) London Gazette 8 March 1920: ‘For valuable services at Naval Transport Officer in Charge on the Emsta River.’

The Admiralty recommendation from the Principal N.T.O. North Russia states: ‘N.T.O. in Charge on the Emsta River, where transport was particularly difficult owing to the extreme shallowness of the River (fell to 18 inches). Displayed great energy and zeal and managed this difficult tributary with marked ability.’

Order of St Stanislas, 2nd Class with Swords: ‘Granted unofficial permission to wear’ 16 November 1919 (Record of Service refers).

D.S.C. London Gazette 20 November 1942: ‘For courage and determination in the Mediterranean.’

The Admiralty recommendation for the Immediate award of the D.S.C. to Lockington, together with two D.S.Ms. and four M.I.Ds. (two of these Posthumous), states by way of introduction:

‘H.M.S. “FAROUK” was on special service in the Mediterranean as a Q-caique. She was spotted by an enemy U-boat on 13th June, 1942, and the enemy gave her no opportunity whatever to exercise her craft. Instead, her company were subjected to gruelling bombardment at long range, during the course of which, and until the ship actually sank, they showed superb and sustained courage which did not permit them to reply. Casualties were heavy, Lieutenant-Commander Lockington, the inspiration of the entire enterprise, showed a magnificent example of cool courage throughout.’

The recommendation for Lockington’s Immediate D.S.C. states:

‘H.M.S. “Farouk” was Lieutenant Commander Lockington’s idea and he chose and fitted out the vessel. He had “Q” boat experience in the last war and though 53 years of age put the heart of a young man into the enterprise. Unfortunately his only action with an enemy U-boat took place at long range and his carefully laid plan to send away a panic party and wait till the U-boat closed did not materialise. The U-boat did not close but destroyed his vessel from a range of from 3,000 to 4,000 yards; but this did not prevent Lieutenant Commander Lockington and the majority of his crew from remaining on board their vessel until she was literally blown from under them. I consider this to be a magnificent example of cool courage in the face of heavy odds, in the hope that even at the last some opportunity might turn up to attack the enemy.’

The following extracts from Lockington’s subsequent action report on the loss of the Farouk, dated Beirut, 23rd June, 1942, give a dramatic and graphic account of the horrendous ordeal that he and his crew were subjected to; we take up the story about 15 minutes after the shelling had started, the Farouk had been hit, and Lockington had sent the panic party away in their boat:

‘12. During the next 20 minutes it was hell aboard, with shells large and small falling all round and close, and at least 8 of the large shells coming inboard, causing terrific explosions, causing much damage and loss of life.

13. I was getting rather worried, as I expected the U-Boat would have ceased fire and closed, seeing the vessel on fire forward and the crew (panic party) long left the ship. But he did not. He just continued shelling.

14. The first ruse of an innocent caique had failed; he did not fire across the bows and come close to talk to the vessel. The second ruse also failed, for he disregarded the crew leaving their vessel, and did not close when she was on fire, but continued firing. I was now perfectly sure the U-Boat knew that we were a “Q” Boat and fully intended murdering us all, just as we would have done to him.

15. I could not make up my mind just what to do, as I knew my 12 pdr. was useless at that range, and that it was no use opening up at what was a flash. To start the engine with a view to closing was also hopeless, as I could only do six knots maximum in very fine smooth sea. There was only one thing to do anything to make the U-Boat cease firing and close, this was to send away my second panic party and as I felt sure he knew I was a “Q” decided to do so, with just a faint hope that he would think we had all left. So I rang the bell and shouted through the voice pipe “Away second panic party”. (This would mean the second 12 pdr. gun’s crew, the one which would not be in use, there being one on each side). There was no bell and no response from the Cook, who should have been at the other end of the voice pipe repeating orders for all to hear. (The Cook, who was saved told me later that he got the order to send away the second panic party but at that moment was blown by a shell clean through the W/T cabin and could not repeat the order).

16. Getting no response, I darted out on deck, ran forward by the side of the dummy house (opposite side to the enemy), and there saw someone, I think it was Swain, Leading Seaman, with his Lewis Gun covered in blood.

17. I yelled to him to send the second panic party away with the collapsible Boat. He turned and commenced to give the order to those by the 12 pdrs., and Bredae, who were on deck, but inside our supposed cargo; when a shell came inboard dead centre, exploded, and burst into flame, set fire to the ship amidships, lifted the decks, killed a 12 pdr. crew and put the guns out of action.

18. This was bad, I had now only the 6 pdr. in the dummy house left. While I was holding on to a belaying pin in the spider band of the main mast, wondering what to do, and while many shells exploded very close alongside with terrific bangs, someone shouted “Should we abandon ship, Sir?, I yelled back at the top of my voice, “No”. (I had one gun left and there was still a small chance the U-Boat would close). Unfortunately some of the hands heard the two words “Abandon ship”, as the question was asked, thought it was an order and dived over the side. (I heard this later from those who swam ashore).

19. Eventually I got back to the control room which was next to the 6 pdr. in the dummy house aft. Tom King, Able Seaman, the 6 pdr. gun-layer, was inside my control room looking through the slit in the iron. He said “There he is Sir, look, you can just see him”. I said “You get to hell out of this”, meaning him to clear out of the little control room, to enable me to see through the slit. And he did so by immediately diving overboard. (He apparently thought I gave him an order to clear out altogether). This left only Pardy, Ordinary Seaman and myself with the 6pdr., but enough. I looked through the slit in the iron and could, for the first time, actually see the U-Boat a long way away. I wanted a better view, so went out on deck again, jumped up on the bulwarks, held myself up by the Main topmast backstay and took a look over the dummy house. I could see the U-Boat broad side on, I should think about 4,000 yards away. It appeared to have a long conning tower, painted almost sea colour. No guns were visible, just flashes all the time.

20. Suddenly there was a terrific bang and a kind of heave. I found myself blown into the sea, and the main-mast and gear all came down on top of me in the water, the main-mast having been shot away at deck level (I discovered this later when hanging on to it). It was lucky I got entangled in the gear of the mast, as I did not want to go overboard, not being able to swim; but the mast saved my life.

21. Pardy, Ordinary Seaman in the dummy house told me afterwards that when he saw me go over, he took a dive and swam 4 miles to the shore, as he missed the main-mast.

22. At the same time as I went over, Skimmimgs, Able Seaman, and Moss, Ordinary Seaman also went. Moss could not grab the mast, but grabbed my legs and hung on. He said his two legs were broken. He had one compound fracture and one badly damaged (I heard this later). As the vessel was making 1-1.5 knots through the water, racing before sea and wind, assisted by her three jibs and foresail all adrift but catching some wind, it took me all my time to hold on to the spar with one arm and keep my trousers on with the other, as Moss was towing on the trousers, and if they went, he went. Skimmings called for help and said he had lost an arm (he had, poor fellow, and looked an awful sight, hanging on with the other), but I could not help him.

23. The ship’s cat then tried to sit on my head, and managed to balance itself between my head and the mast; and a rat was hanging on to some gear, not two feet away from the cat, but neither attempted to assist one another.

24. After about 10-15 minutes of towing in this manner, and I was feeling as if I had had enough, the foremast was shot away and went overboard starboard side. This was good, as the vessel then lost her way; and Moss was able to get hold of the mast and Skimmings could retain a better hold.

25. I then had the surprise of my life. The ship was ablaze fore and aft; the ammunition on board which included 500 12 pdr., and 300 6 pdr., “prodges”, were bursting so many per minute and cordite going off in flashes, blowing huge pieces of the vessel sky high and all over the place; the enemy in spite of all this continued to shell the vessel with large shells, which, if they did not hit and explode, exploded close to us in the water (we were anything from 15 feet to 20 feet from the stern, on the mast); when a man suddenly appeared on deck. It was Hall, Engine Room Artificer Third Class, my Engineer. This man had remained at his post below, throughout, waiting to obey any order his Commanding Officer passed down the voice pipe. He did not know that his Commanding Officer had been blown overboard and never heard “Abandon ship”, as I gave no such order. I shouted to him to come down and he dived in and caught the mast, saying that the Engines would not work now, if I wanted them to do so.

26. So now we were Hall, Skimmings, Moss and myself on the mast; and the U-Boat continued shelling, even though the ship was mast-less and ablaze fore and aft. All at once I found myself laughing for Hall suddenly said “Sir, how long do you think they will be before they stop shelling?”, and I replied at once “Oh! any moment now”. That was typical of Hall, the fellow whom the crew used to say was 11d to the shilling sometimes. He may have been, but he was a man and a real one, the bravest on the ship.

27. After about another ten minutes the vessel seemed to settle down and floated on her decks, kept up by her barrels and tins, which were put in for this express purpose. I was always in doubt at to whether she would float on the number of barrels and tins that we put in , and never had the chance to test this buoyancy before. Had she not caught fire, she would apparently have floated for ages, but as the decks and bulwarks were burnt, and blown away, suddenly the barrels began to pop up and float away, then all appeared to come out together, and down went the “FAROUK”, dragging with her the two masts. I found myself close to a 4 gallon tin with a handle, which I grabbed, also a small piece of wood. This kept us afloat. Skimmings had gone down with the mast, and Hall eventually sank after trying to save himself on a piece of wood. Moss was holding on to a piece of wood and keeping up nicely.

28. How long it was I cannot say, but it seemed ages, when I suddenly caught sight of a grey bow-wave. At first I thought it looked like the U-Boat, which would not have been so good, but it proved to be a Motor Launch. I shouted to Moss that a Motor Launch was 100 yards away and to hold on. We were picked up, and I remember seeing Moss on Deck as I was sitting next to him, and then I knew no more until I was being changed from one bed in the Australian Hospital, Tripoli, to another, many hours later.’

Arthur Esme Lockington was born in Peterborough, Northants on 6 January 1889. He joined the Merchant Navy and by January 1914 had acquired his Certificate of Competency as Master. He was appointed Temporary Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve on 15 December 1914, becoming Temporary Lieutenant in April 1915, and Temporary Acting Lieutenant-Commander in June 1919. Appointed to command of the Trawler Grackle in February 1915, he received Their Lordship’s expression of approval ‘for the spirited manner in which he engaged S/M wh. sank Atalanta.’ In November 1915 he applied for submarine service and, in February 1916, was duly appointed Navigating Officer of H.M.S/M. E.53. At the end of May 1916, he returned to service in armed trawlers and in February 1917 applied for service in “Q” ships. He served in North Russia on the Emtsa River Front at the end of World War I, nicknamed the ‘Polar Bear Expedition’. Ostensibly sent to Russia to prevent a German advance and to help reopen the Eastern Front, US soldiers, primarily, found themselves fighting Bolshevik revolutionaries for months after the Armistice ended fighting in France. Lockington was awarded his Order of St. Stanislaus 2nd Class and a Military O.B.E for these services. Lockington did not see any further service after his adventures in Farouk, and appears to have taken up farming in Sussex, and later in County Wexford, Ireland, where he died in 1962.