Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (5 April 2006)

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Date of Auction: 5th April 2006

Sold for £130

Estimate: £80 - £100

Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 1st issue (204672 William Doyle, P.O., H.M.S. New Zealand) lacquered, good very fine £80-100


William Doyle was born in Liverpool in October 1883 and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class in June 1899. Having attained the rate of Leading Seaman, he was discharged in October 1913, but was quickly recalled with the onset of hostilities in August 1914, when he joined the ship’s company of the battlecruiser H.M.S. New Zealand, in which ship he was subsequently engaged at Heligoland Bight in 1914, Dogger Bank in 1915 and Jutland in 1916. At Dogger Bank, command of the British squadron fell to Rear-Admiral Moore of the New Zealand after Beatty’s Lion was badly damaged by three 12-inch shells, as a consequence of which the former ship was directly involved in a three-hour duel that resulted in the loss of the Blucher. While at Jutland - having steamed by the Queen Mary at the moment she disappeared in a ‘blinding flash’ from a range of about 100 yards - the New Zealand engaged the enemy with numerous well-aimed salvoes, just one enemy shell hitting her in response. Her good fortune was attributed to her captain, John Green, wearing ‘a Maori rush kilt or war mat, called a piu-piu, which had been given to the ship by a Maori Chief during her cruise round the world in 1913-14, with the injunction it was always worn by the captain of the New Zealand in action.’ Having been advanced to Petty Officer in January 1917, and awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal in October of the same year, Doyle finally came ashore from the New Zealand in September 1918, and was demobilised in March 1920.