Lot Archive

Lot

№ 698

.

19 April 1995

Hammer Price:
£4,300

An outstanding and rare North Russia D.S.O. and Bar group awarded to Commander P. H. Edwards, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Commanding Officer of the Russian Allied Naval Brigade, late Howe Battalion, R.N.D., and a Zeebrugge ‘raider’
Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar; 1914-15 Star (Lieut., R.N.V.R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. (Commr., R.N.V.R.); Russia, Order of St. Vladimir, 4th class breast badge with swords in gold and enamels, by Keibel, St. Petersberg; France, Croix de Guerre 1914-17, with bronze star, these last six mounted as worn; Russia, Order of St. Anne, 2nd class neck badge with swords in gold and enamels, by Edouard, St. Petersberg, 43 mm, together with another neck badge of the Order of St. Anne, with swords in gilt and enamels, probably of French manufacture, 50 mm, and a companion set of miniature dress medals, generally good very fine (15)

D.S.O. London Gazette 24 May, 1919. “In recognition of his valuable services as Commanding Officer of the Allied Naval Brigade in North Russia between August 1918 and February 1919, when he did very good work under difficult circumstances.”
Bar to D.S.O. London Gazette 3 February, 1920. “For distinguished service in connection with Military Operations in Archangel, North Russia.”
Commander Patrick Harrington Edwards had already greatly distinguished himself with the Royal Naval Brigade (R.N.D.) long before he even set foot in Russia. He saw service with the Howe Battalion in Gallipoli and was mentioned in despatches for gallant services during the period of General Sir Charles Munro’s command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, from October 1915 right up until the final evacuation (London Gazette 12 July, 1916).
Such was Edwards’ keenness to get to grips with the enemy, that he was one of only a handful of the Howe Battalion to reach the Turkish positions in the Battle of Krithia on 4 June 1915, albeit wounded. The ferocity of the enemy’s fire is best illustrated by the official casualty returns: in just forty-five minutes the Naval Brigade lost sixty out of seventy officers and thirteen hundred of its nineteen hundred men.
Again, in France, he came to the notice of his superiors for distinguished conduct, in particular during the Battle of Ancre, 13-14 November 1916, when he fell seriously wounded after assisting in an attack on the German redoubt. Ignoring his wounds, Edwards regained his feet and continued to direct the advance. In the desperate fighting that month, the Division lost 100 officers and more than 1600 men killed, and 160 officers and 2377 men wounded. Edwards had witnessed, to his cost, the two most disastrous actions yet experienced by the Royal Naval Division. It is rather ironic, not forgetting the lack of recognition he received for Gallipoli, that the History of the Royal Naval Division should credit him with a D.S.O. for this deed. Regrettably no such honour was forthcoming and, remarkably, Edwards was destined to play his part in one of the most memorable events of the War before taking up the appointment that was to eventually bring its just rewards.
Edwards, determined as ever to do his bit, volunteered ‘for an undertaking of real danger’ - the audacious attempt to block the canal at Zeebrugge. Edwards found himself in command of one of the Seaman Storming Parties detailed to storm the Mole once the Vindictive had manoeuvred alongside. As the Vindictive neared its objective, it was subjected to a devastating fire from the Mole battery just 250 yards distant. The number of personnel in exposed positions was meant to be limited mainly to those manning the guns, rocket apparatus and flame-throwers. The senior officers of the storming parties, however, stationed themselves in the most handy position for leading and directing the assault, with the result that they were exposed to the full blast of the hurricane fire from the Mole battery. Of the fourteen landing-brows only two were now serviceable. Captain Halahan, commanding the naval storming forces, was shot down and killed. Commander Edwards, standing near him on the gangway deck, was also shot down and completely incapacitated. Colonel Elliot, commanding the Marine storming forces, and his second-in-command, Major Cordner, were killed on the bridge, where they had taken up a commanding position in full view of the gangway deck. Many others were killed or wounded. Edwards, for his part, was mentioned in dispatches by Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, K.C.B., C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O., Commanding the Dover Patrol, for distinguished services on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918.
After recovering from his wounds for the third time, Edwards was chosen to command the Allied Naval Brigade in North Russia, an appointment that at last brought recognition of his work, in the form of the first of his two D.S.Os. He was subsequently seconded for land duties, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, to assist with the military operations in Archangel, North Russia, and was rewarded with a Bar to his recently won D.S.O. Whether as a result of the effects of his many wounds, or otherwise, both awards were presented to him in bed by the Commandant of Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup, in April 1920.