Medals from the Collection of the late Eric Smith

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Date of Auction: 23rd November 2009

Sold for £460

Estimate: £350 - £400

A post-war O.B.E. group of seven awarded to Captain (E.) P. L. Cloete, Royal Navy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type, silver-gilt; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star, clasp, North Africa 1942-43; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Near East (Cdr. P. L. Cloete, O.B.E., R.N.), mounted court-style as worn, the Stars and clasps gilded, generally good very fine (7) £350-400


O.B.E. London Gazette 1 June 1953.

Peter Laurence Cloete, the son of Rear-Admiral E. B. Cloete, R.N., was appointed a Naval Cadet in May 1931 and, having attended the R.N’s Engineering College and been advanced to Midshipman, joined the cruiser H.M.S.
Leander, in which ship he was serving as a Lieutenant (E.) by the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939. Leander served in the Mediterranean and East Indies 1940-41, and sank the Italian armed merchant cruiser Ramb I in the Indian Ocean in February of the latter year.

Removing to the cruiser
Argonaut in August 1941, Cloete remained similarly employed until coming ashore to the Columbo base Lanka in September 1944, thereby sharing in her Battle Honours for North Africa 1942 and Normandy 1944, and gaining advancement to Lieutenant-Commander (E.) at the time of the Normandy landings. So, too, in such notable actions as the destruction of four enemy supply ships and a destroyer north of Tunis in December 1942 and, less happily, an attack by the Italian submarine Mocenigo in February 1943, when Argonaut’s bow and stern were blown off - subsequent repairs being undertaken in the U.S.A. and U.K.

Post-war, after promotion to Commander (E.), he served in the cruiser
Belfast and the battleship Duke of York, and was awarded his O.B.E. in the Coronation Honours List in 1953, while serving in the cruiser Jamaica, which distinction he received at a Buckingham Palace investiture in the following month. Appointments in the aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Eagle ensued, in which latter ship he is believed to have qualified for his “Near East” clasp in 1956.

Cloete, a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Institute of Naval Architects, retired in the rank of Captain (E.) and died in May 1971; also see Lot 43 for his father’s and younger brother’s Honours & Awards.