Lot Archive


№ 295


27 July 1995

Hammer Price:

A fine Naval group of ten awarded to Engine Room Artificer J. A. Farnell, a survivor of two sinkings, including H.M.S. “Prince of Wales”, who was mentioned in despatches for the fall of Singapore
1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star, clasp, North Africa 1942-43; Pacific Star, clasp, Burma; Italy Star; War Medal, M.I.D.; Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Malaya, G.VI.R. (D/MX.55899 E.R.A.1 R.N.); Korea 1950-53 (E.R.A.1 R.N.); U.N. Korea; Naval L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 2nd issue (E.R.A.1 H.M.S. Crane) sold with original M.I.D. certificate and Admiralty Certificate of Service, generally good very fine, a rare and historic group (10)

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, Medals Relating to the Korean War 1950-53.

View Medals Relating to the Korean War 1950-53


M.I.D. London Gazette 15 December, 1942, E.R.A. 3rd class, H.M.S. Sultan, ‘For gallantry and devotion to duty at Singapore.’
John Arthur Farnell began his eventful war service as an ERA 4th class aboard the destroyer H.M.S.
Hunter in which ship he took part in the daring raid against German naval forces at Narvik early on the morning of 10th April, 1940. The destroyers Hardy, Hotspur, Havock, Hunter and Hostile, all under the command of Captain B. A. W. Warburton-Lee in the first named, entered Ofot Fjord and engaged a German flotilla of 11 large and heavily armed destroyers. In the action which ensued Hardy was sunk and Captain Warburton-Lee mortally wounded. Hunter too was sunk in mid-fjord, but owing to the intensity of the fighting none of the British ships could afford her any help. It was at first thought that she had gone down with the whole of her complement of 145, but later it was discovered that 2 officers and 44 ratings, including Farnell, had been picked up by the German destroyer Erich Giese. This party was landed at Narvik and held prisoner until April 13th, on which date a second British attack made by the battleship Warspite and nine destroyers, sank all the German warships. Hunter’s party was released by the Germans and sent to Sweden and ultimately back to Britain. In recognition of his gallant action Captain Warburton-Lee was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Farnell was granted a Hurt Certificate on 19 July, 1940, in respect of shrapnel wounds resulting in scars to his forehead, left ankle and back, all presumably gained at Narvik.
After a brief period aboard
Eaglet, Farnell was appointed, on 19 January 1941, to the ill-fated dreadnought battleship Prince of Wales in which he shared the part played by her in action against the Bismarck. In August she was selected to carry Winston Churchill to his meeting with President Roosevelt in the Western Atlantic at which the Atlantic Charter was formulated. In November she was sent to Singapore in company with the battle cruiser Repulse and when, on 7th December, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, these two ships together with a flotilla of destroyers, undertook to attack the Japanese forces which were attempting to invade Malaya. Completely without air protection the squadron was vulnerable to attack from the air and on the 10th found itself subjected to an attack by 60 Japanese bombers in which Repulse received a bomb in the engine room, Prince of Wales escaping for the time being with superficial damage. This raid was followed by a more formidable one by 27 torpedo carrying aircraft attacking in waves of nine. In this attack the Japs made easy work of finishing off the two ships which were both sunk with loss of 762 lives. Once again Farnell was among the survivors who were landed at Singapore. Quite what part Farnell played in the events leading up to the fall of Singapore and the subsequent evacuation, in February 1942, we do not know but it brought him a well earned mention in despatches for his services aboard H.M.S. Sultan.
Farnell was promoted E.R.A. 1st class in November 1949 and, aboard the frigate Crane saw service during the Malayan emergency and the Korean war. He was presented with his long service medal in March 1953 and was finally discharged in January 1958.