A Collection of Awards to the Q-Ship H.M.S. Penshurst

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Date of Auction: 4th March 2020

Sold for £1,100

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,600

The Great War D.S.M. group of four awarded to Leading Seaman E. Gleeson, Royal Navy, who was decorated for his bravery in anti-submarine operations aboard the Q-ship Penshurst, one of the most famous and highly decorated Q-ships of the War, in which ship he was still serving on the occasion of her loss in the Irish Sea in December 1917. He had earlier fought at the Battle of Jutland aboard H.M.S. Colossus

Distinguished Service Medal, G.V.R. (J.23943. E. Gleeson A.B. Anti-Submarine Opns. 1917); 1914-15 Star (J.23943, E. Gleeson, A.B., R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (J.23943 E. Gleeson. A.B. R.N.) light contact marks, nearly very fine (4) £1,200-£1,600

Footnote

D.S.M. London Gazette 22 February 1918:
‘For services in action with enemy submarines’


Edward Gleeson was born in 1896 in Waterford, Ireland and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 7 April 1913. He served in the battleship H.M.S. Formidable from 18 August 1913 to 19 December 1913 before joining another battleship, H.M.S. Bellerophon on 10 January 1914. He was still aboard Bellerophon at the outbreak of the Great War and stayed with her until 27 August 1915 having been promoted to Able Seaman on 25 March of that year. Gleeson joined the Dreadnought Battleship, H.M.S. Colossus on 23 November 1915 being present at the Battle of Jutland where Colossus engaged the enemy and sustained minor damage.

Gleeson joined the Q-ship, H.M.S. Penshurst (a.k.a. Q.7) under Lieutenant Commander C. Naylor on 1 May 1917. He would have been present at four of the Penshurst’s U-boat engagements including Naylor’s first action as Captain on 2 July, in the Western Approaches, when his gunners scored 16 hits on an unidentified U-Boat before it fled the scene just as three Royal Navy destroyers arrived.

He was also present on 19 August. On this occasion Penshurst was torpedoed and badly damaged by gunfire, exposing her hidden guns. Despite this, the submarine surfaced and Penshurst pretended to “run away” according to plan. She then opened fire with her 3-pounder gun in an attempt to entice the submarine closer before opening up with her heavier guns. Hits were scored against the submarine and eventually Penshurst used her 12-pounder with good effect and hit the submarine four times, causing it to break off the action and dive. Penshurst, badly damaged, was unable to follow up with depth charges, and so set course for Plymouth and much needed repairs.

Gleeson
remained with Penshurst right up to her last action on 24 December 1917 in the Irish Sea when she was torpedoed by U-110. Penshurst scored some hits on this occasion but was unable to bring all her guns to bear as she was down by the stern. She was again torpedoed, this time fatally - with two exceptions, however, all the crew were subsequently rescued. Two months later Captain Naylor’s second bar to his D.S.O. and Gleeson’s D.S.M. were both published in the same edition of the London Gazette.

After the war Gleeson received promotion to Leading Seaman on 1 February 1920 and served in the Light Cruiser H.M.S. Curlew from 27 April 1920 to 15 June 1921. He left the service on 11 October 1922.

Sold with copied research.