Exceptional Naval and Polar Awards from the Collection of RC Witte

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Date of Auction: 13th December 2007

Sold for £5,000

Estimate: £3,000 - £3,500

The Great War D.S.C. group of six awarded to Commander H. B. Anderson, Royal Navy, who was decorated for his services as a Midshipman in the Cameroons in 1914 - aged 17 years

Distinguished Service Cross
, G.V.R., hallmarks for London 1915; 1914-15 Star (Mid. H. B. Anderson, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. H. B. Anderson, R.N.); Defence and War Medals, mounted as worn, good very fine and better (6) £3000-3500

D.S.C. London Gazette 1 January 1916:

‘For his services during the operations in the Cameroons. On 9 December 1914, during a reconnaissance in a motor launch towards Jabassi, Midshipman Anderson’s maxim jammed while he was returning the fire of the enemy, who were engaging him from both banks. Mr. Anderson not only handled his boat well, but personally cleared his Maxim under a continuous heavy fire, and then swept both banks with it, the enemy suffering heavily.’


Hugh Beckett Anderson, a native of Arden, Dumbartonshire, attended the R.N.Cs Osborne and Dartmouth 1910-13 and was appointed a Midshipman in the cruiser Cumberland shortly before the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914. Quickly employed in the Cameroon Expeditionary Force, he was present in picket boat actions near Jabassi on 14 October and 27 November, under Lieutenant R. D. B. Haddon, R.N., and received favourable mention for his part on latter occasion, when the enemy was finally silenced after 50 minutes of maxim gun fire. Writing on 4 December, Captain Fuller of the Cumberland noted that Anderson had ‘proved himself to be an exceptionally capable young officer when on various river and creek expeditions, especially when under fire.’ A mere five days later his Midshipman proved himself again, this time in command of his own boat, and was awarded the D.S.C. - aged 17 years.

Returning home from the Cameroons in May 1915, Anderson joined the battleship Canada and was present at Jutland in the following year, and removed to the Dover Patrol destroyer Waveney as a Sub. Lieutenant in September 1916. His final wartime appointment was in the Ophelia, commencing April 1917, in which ship he was present at the destruction of the UB-83 off the Orkneys on 10 September 1918.

He appears to have reverted to the Retired List as a Lieutenant in 1921, but received advancement to Lieutenant-Commander (Retired) in the period leading up to the renewal of hostilities. Recalled in August 1939, he served for the remainder of the War at the Control Office, Southampton, in which capacity he received an Admiralty letter of thanks for his part in the planning and execution of the Normandy landings in June 1944.

Anderson was placed back on the Retired List in the rank of Commander in 1946.

Sold with a quantity of original documentation, including a family telegram reporting on his acceptance for training as a Naval Cadet, dated 10 March 1910; a run of end of term reports from
Osborne and Darmouth 1910-13 (approximately 11); an old leather album containing his ship’s “flimsies” for the periods 1915-1921, and 1939-45 (approximately 20); a quantity of wartime newspaper cuttings reporting on his D.S.C. exploits; a 1939-45 War “Secret” map of the ‘Build-Up Berthing Plan’ for Southampton Water; a “Red Urgent” communique to the War Information News Bureau, Washington D.C., reporting on the Allied landings in Normandy; an Admiralty letter acknowledging his ‘good services in the planning and execution of the operations for the invasion of Normandy’, dated 17 February 1945; a letter from the C.O. of the U.S. Naval Advanced Amphibious Base, Southampton, in which the recipient is cited for his organisation of numerous sailings and his patience ‘which was often taxed to the extreme’, dated 30 June 1945; Admiralty letter of thanks on his retirement, dated 1 April 1946 and a similar communication confirming his advancement to Commander (retired), this dated 16 August 1946.