A Collection of Army Gallantry Awards to the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force
Date of Auction: 4th March 2020
Sold for £5,000
Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000
Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; Military Medal, G.V.R. (T.Z-6450 A.P.O. R. H. Brewer. Hood Bn: R.N.V.R.); 1914-15 Star (C.Z. 6450 R. H. Brewer, L.S., R.N.V.R.); British War and Victory Medals (S.Lt. R. H. Brewer. R.N.V.R.) light contact marks, good very fine and an exceptionally rare combination of awards to the Royal Navy (5) £4,000-£5,000
FootnoteM.C. London Gazette 11 January 1919:
‘He displayed conspicuous gallantry and initiative when part of the line was held up. He crept forward and bombed and captured a machine-gun post that was impeding our advance, which was then able to proceed.’
M.M. London Gazette 17 April 1917.
Robert Harold Brewer was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, on 27 June 1883, and prior to the Great War was employed as a Ship’s Steward. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Service in late May 1915, before joining the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 7 August 1915, aged 32. Rated Ordinary Seaman and given the number ‘Tyneside Z/6450’, Brewer was advanced Able Seaman on 13 September 1915, and Leading Seaman on 6 October of that year. Drafted to Hood Battalion on 5 December 1915, Brewer served at Gallipoli for a short period before being evacuated.
Brewer transferred to the 188th (Royal Naval Division) Machine Gun Company on 16 May 1916, before proceeding to France in August of that year, and saw service with the Royal Naval Division during the Ancre River operations and during the Miraumont operations early the following year. He was promoted Acting Petty Officer on 10 February 1917, before being wounded 20 February 1917 with shrapnel wounds to his right arm, back, and left leg. He was evacuated to the UK on 13 March 1917, where he was hospitalised until April.
Brewer was awarded the Military Medal for the action in which he was wounded, and was presented with his Military Medal by the General Officer Commanding, Royal Naval Division Reserve, at the Royal Naval Division Depot at Blandford on 12 May 1917. He returned to France and served with Nelson Battalion from July to September before returning to England to commence officer training at No. 2 Officer Cadet Battalion, Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was commissioned Temporary Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, for service with 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, on 27 February 1918.
Brewer rejoined Hood Battalion on 1 August 1918 and was wounded in action a second time with a gun shot wound to the right hand at Logeast Wood on 21 August 1918. Evacuated to the U.K., on 15 October an announcement was made in the Royal Naval Division orders of the award of the Military Cross for the action in which he was wounded, one of only three Military Cross and Military Medal combinations awarded to the Royal Navy for the Great War.
Note: Brewer subsequently applied for the Mercantile Marine War Medal for which he believed he was entitled as a result of his service as a Ship’s Steward during the first months of the war. However, the Mercantile Marine Office determined no eligibility, and the medal was not issued.