A Collection of Medals to Second World War Casualties

Date of Auction: 18th July 2018


Estimate: £120 - £160

Three: Storekeeper F. L. C. Swanson, Merchant Navy, who was killed in action when the S.S. Almeda Star was torpedoed by the German submarine U-96 and sank off Rockall with all hands, 17 January 1941; he had earlier witnessed the sinking of the Graf Spee at Montevideo in December 1939

1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; War Medal 1939-45, with named Minister of Transport enclosure, in card box of issue, addressed to ‘Mrs. G. G. Corbin, 57 Elborough Street, Southfields, London SW18’; together with the named Buckingham Palace enclosure, in envelope addressed to ‘Mrs. Gladys G. Swanson.’, extremely fine (3) £120-160


Francis Swanson served during the Second World War as a Storekeeper in the 14,936 ton Blue Star Line passenger ship the S.S. Almeda Star. While docked in Montevideo harbour at the start of the War she found herself alongside the Graf Spee, after the latter’s engagement with the cruisers H.M.S. Ajax, Achilles, and Exeter during the Battle of the River Plate, and witnessed the latter’s scuttling and sinking. The Almeda Star was lost with her entire compliment of 360 when, en route from Liverpool to Trinadad, she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-96 35 miles east of Rockall on 17 January 1941; amongst her passengers were 21 officers and 121 ratings of the F.A.A., en-route to R.N.A.S. Piarco, Trinadad.

Swanson was amongst those killed, aged 30. He is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial. His medals were sent to his widow Gladys G. Swanson, who had subsequently remarried.

Sold together with six photographs showing the sinking of the Graf Spee at Montevido, 18 December 1939, all framed and glazed.