Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (13 January 2021)

Date of Auction: 13th January 2021

Sold for £9,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

A rare Second War C.G.M. group of five awarded to Able Seaman G. H. Wright, Royal Navy, who was decorated for exceptional gallantry as Director Trainer in H.M.S. Hastings off Rosyth in March 1941: dangerously wounded in the stomach during an enemy aircraft attack, he remained at his post up until the cease fire was ordered, when ‘he could hold out no longer’ and collapsed - an act of bravery which closely mirrored the deeds enacted by V.C. winner Leading Seaman Jack Mantle off Portland in July 1940

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, G.VI.R. (J. 111032 G. H. Wright, A.B. H.M.S. Hastings.) officially impressed naming; Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Palestine 1936-1939 (J. 111032 G. H. Wright. A.B.. R.N.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue (J. 111032 G. H. Wright. A.B. H.M.S. Hastings.) generally good very fine (5) £8,000-£10,000

Footnote

C.G.M. London Gazette 8 April 1941:

‘For great gallantry and devotion to duty. When H.M.S. Hastings was attacked by enemy aircraft with machine-gun fire, Able Seaman Wright, the Director Trainer, was dangerously wounded. Though in great pain he kept his courage and carried on with his duties until the cease-fire, when he could hold out no longer. Even then his cheerfulness did not fail.’

The original recommendation states:

‘When H.M.S. Hastings was attacked by enemy aircraft with machine-gun fire on 1 March [1941], Able Seaman Wright, the Director Trainer, was dangerously wounded in the stomach. Although in great pain, this rating showed great courage and devotion to duty in immediately resuming and carrying out his duty until the cease fire was ordered, when he collapsed. This action and his subsequent unfailing cheerfulness set a very high example. Able Seaman Wright is at present in the R.N. Hospital Port Edgar, where his condition is serious.’

George Henry Wright was born at Birkenhead, Cheshire, on 2 February 1908, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 24 July 1924, a butcher’s assistant by trade. After initial training in Impregnable and at the depot ship Columbine I, he went to sea in the battleships Thunderer, December 1925 to January 1926, and Resolution, January to December 1926. Whilst in the latter ship he signed on for 12 years’ Continuous Service and was advanced to Ordinary Seaman from 2 February. Following further time on shore at Vivid I, he went to Egmont II, depot ship at Malta, for brief service in the destroyer Wakeful and then Viceroy, in which ship he remained until November 1929, being advanced to Able Seaman in February of that year. In the ensuing years before the outbreak of war he saw service in the battleship Renown, the cruiser Dunedin, the sloop Laburnum, and the cruiser Delhi. During this period he also qualified as a Diver 1st Class. He was next employed in the sloop Hastings in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea prior to returning to home waters in 1937.

On the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, Hastings was assigned to Rosyth for convoy defence work in the North Sea and in waters off the East Coast, in which capacity, in late November of that year, she picked up 37 survivors from the S.S. Ionian which had been mined off the Newarp Lighthouse. Of events off Rosyth on 1 March 1941, Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Alison stated in his official report that the attacks comprised ‘three machine-gun attacks from about 50 feet and one low-level bombing attack’, in response to which Hastings fired ‘18 rounds of 4-inch controlled fire, a short burst from the 0.5 machine-gun until it would not bear, and the port Lewis gun from the signal bridge’. Of the enemy’s fire, three machine-gun bullets found their mark, one of them seriously wounding Wright, while one of Hastings’ 4-inch patterns was seen to burst close to the aircraft and additional fire from her Lewis gun at 600 yards probably caused damage, as well as rounds from the 0.5 gun before it ceased to bear at 1000 yards range.

After recovering from his wounds, Wright was transferred to H.M.S. Drake, the main naval barracks at Devonport, on 18 July 1941. He had received his L.S. & G.C. medal earlier that January and, although he remained in the navy, did not go to sea again. He was invalided out of the Navy from R.N. Hospital Devonport on 1 April 1947. Sold with copied record of service and other copied research.