The Collection of Medals to Great War Casualties formed by Tim Parsons

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Date of Auction: 2nd April 2004

Sold for £820

Estimate: £400 - £500

Four: Able Seaman W. T. Harland, Royal Navy, late Metropolitan Police, who was lost when H.M.S. Aboukir was torpedoed in the North Sea on 22 September 1914

1914-15 Star
(226744 A.B., R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (226744 A.B., R.N.); Coronation 1911, Metropolitan Police issue (P.C.), with related Memorial Plaque (William Thomas Harland), all in card boxes of issue, extremely fine and a very rare combination to a Great War casualty (5) £400-500


William Thomas Harland was born at Woolwich, Kent in September 1886 and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class in June 1903. Three years later, however, he purchased his discharge, was enrolled in the R.F.R. and joined the Metropolitan Police, in which latter force he served as a P.C. in ‘Y’ and Thames Divisions until recalled by the Royal Navy in early August 1914.

Harland died on 22 September 1914, when his ship, the cruiser H.M.S.
Aboukir, together with the Cressy and Hogue, was famously sunk by Lieutenant Otto Weddigen in the U-9, about 30 miles from Ymuiden - the total loss of life in this triple disaster was over 1400 officers and men. The Aboukir was the first to be hit:

‘At 6.30 a.m. came the first intimation of danger when a torpedo exploded under the Aboukir’s starboard side, causing that ship to take a list of 20 degrees. The order to “abandon ship” was given after a very short time, but only one boat, the cutter, was got away, and those in the water had to avail themselves of anything which would float. The first idea in the mind of Captain Drummond was that his ship had struck a mine as no submarine was visible. The Aboukir remained afloat for some 25 minutes, after which she capsized and lay for a time with her keel above water ...’ (A Dictionary of Disasters at Sea refers).

Sold with original memorial scroll; Admiralty communications to the recipient’s mother regarding his death and a gratuity payment; an old photograph of H.M.S. Aboukir, together with more recent photographs of the Chatham Naval Memorial, on which Harland is commemorated; together with two metalled numbers from his Police uniform collar.