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№ 828


17 September 2004

Hammer Price:

Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Bomb & Mine Clearance 1945-53 (P/JX.113903 A. L. Vearncombe, D.S.M. P.O. R.N.) nearly extremely fine and rare £600-800

Only 145 clasps issued for ‘Bomb & Mine Clearance 1945-53.

London Gazette 23 December 1939: ‘For great courage and skill in securing and stripping live enemy mines, without regard for their own safety.’

Able Seaman Archibald L. Vearncombe was a member of Lieutenant-Commander John Ouvry’s Mine Recovery Party in the early days of the war. After successfully recovering and stripping the first German magnetic mine from the beach near Southend Pier at the end of November 1939, H.M. King George VI held a special presentation in the grounds of H.M.S.
Vernon on 19 December 1939. Lieutenant-Commanders John Ouvry and Roger Lewis each received the D.S.O., whilst Lieutenant John Glenny received the D.S.C., and C.P.O. Charles Baldwin and A.B. Archibald Vearncombe got the D.S.M., the first of many awards to be given for this kind of work during the coming years. Four days later the announcement of the awards appeared in the London Gazette.

The full story of Ouvry and his gallant team will be found in Service Most Silent by J. F. Turner, whilst the pastel portrait of Vearncombe by Eric Kensington is reproduced from Naval Honours and Awards 1939 & 1940 by Geoffrey Bles.