Lot Archive


№ 407


8 December 1994

Hammer Price:

A most unusual Korean B.E.M. group of eleven awarded to Chief Yeoman of Signals W.K. Hutchings, Royal Navy

BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (Military) G.VI.R., 2nd type (Y. Sig., DIJX 144680); 1939-45 STAR; ATLANTIC STAR, clasp, France and Germany; AFRICA STAR; ITALY STAR; WAR MEDAL; NAVAL GENERAL SERVICE 1915-62, 2 clasps, Yangtze 1949, Malaya (Yeo. Sigs., R.N.); KOREA 1950-53 (C.Y.S., R.N.); U.N. KOREA; NAVAL L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 2nd type (B.E.M., C.Y.S., H.M.S. Battleaxe); Poland, CROSS OF VALOUR, very fine (11)

B.E.M., London Gazette, 5 June, 1952, 'in recognition of non-operational services in Japan in connection with operations in Korea.'

Polish Cross of Valour, London Gazette, 8 December, 1942, 'for services to the Polish Navy.'

Mr. W.K. Hutchings B.E.M. from Tavistock, who retired as a Port Control Signalman at Flagstaff Steps signal station, H.M. Naval Base Devonport on the staff of the Port Admiral and Queens Harbour Master, served 25 years in the Royal Navy, joining as a signal Boy at the age of 15 years in 1935, rated Chief Yeoman of Signals in 1950 retiring on pension in 1960. In 1936 he completed his boys training in the Battleship Royal Sovereign, and from 1937 to 1939 served in the Battleship Rodney. At the beginning of the Second World War, he served aboard the Battleship Royal Oak at Scapa Flow, when she was sunk by four torpedoes from a German U-Boat. 800 men went down with the ship but he was fortunate enough to have been on watch at the time and able to jump over the side. In November 1939, he was drafted to the Hunt Class Destroyer H.M.S. Pychley, then loaned to the Polish Navy, where he served aboard the O.R.P. Gdynia and the Destroyer O.R.P. Piorun in which he saw action in Bartlefleet operations and Atlantic, Mediterranean and Russian convoys and was awarded the Krzyz Waleczny (Polish Cross of Valour) for his part in the action in which the unsinkable German Battleship Bismark met its end. The Piorun during that occasion was attached to a force of destroyers which included Cossack, Zulu, Sikh and Maori under the overall command of Captain Vian of 'The Navy's Here' fame. He left the Polish Navy in September 1945, joined the destroyer H.M.S. Consort in the Far East in 1946 and was commended in a Special Order of the Day by the Commander in Chief Far East, Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, for his part in the Yangtze action when H.M.S. Consort suffered serious damage and casualties from Communist shore batteries whilst attempting to assist H.M.S. Amethyst. Aboard the Consort qualified for the General Service Medal (Yangtze) and a clasp for the campaign against the Communists in Malay. In 1952 he was awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division) for services in connection with operations in Korea, when he was serving on the staff of the Flag Officer 2nd in Command Far East, Sir Scott Moncrieff. During the period of the Korean War, he served in H.M. Ships Glory, Theseus, Kenya, Belfast, Ladybird, Cardigan Bay, Mounts Bay and the New Zealand Frigate Rotioti. He spent three years on the Destroyer Squadron Leader Battleaxe on a General Service Commission before being drafted to join the staff of the Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf, Captain Beattie V.C. with whom he served on board H.M. Frigates Loch Alvie, Loch Fyne, Loch Kiiisport, Loch Ruthven and Loch Lomond. Mr. Hutchings ended his career at Londonderry Anti-Submarine School.