Lot Archive


№ 604


12 February 1997

Hammer Price:

The unique M.C., D.C.M., M.M. group of seven awarded to Sub Lieutenant C. B. Wheeler, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who was killed in action during the Defence of Singapore 1942

Seven: Military Cross, G.V.R.; Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (CZ-2224 P.O. C. B. Wheeler, Nelson Bn. R.N.V.R.); Military Medal, G.V.R. (CZ-2224 A.L.S. C. B. Wheeler, Nelson Bn. R.N.V.R.); 1914-15 Star (CZ-2224 C. B. Wheeler, A.B. R.N.V.R.); British War and Victory Medals (S.Lt. C. B. Wheeler, R.N.V.R.); Efficiency Medal, Malaya, G.VI.R., 1st issue (Sgt. Colin B. Wheeler, M.C., D.C.M., M.M., F.M.S.V.F.) mounted court style as worn, good very fine (7)

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, The Douglas-Morris Collection of Naval Medals.

View The Douglas-Morris Collection of Naval Medals


See colour plate VIII.

The combination of M.C., D.C.M., M.M. is unique to the Royal Naval Division.

London Gazette 15 February 1919, detalis London Gazette 30 July 1919: Temporary Sub Lieutenant Colin Bain Wheeler, D.C.M., M.M., Anson Battalion R.N.D., R.N.V.R. (Attached 188 L.T.M. Bty) ‘On 27 September 1918 he was in charge of the section of two Stokes guns and was following his Battalion when the Battalion was suddenly held up by hostile machine gun fire. Taking a Lewis Gun he crawled forward and cleared the enemy post thus helping the Infantry to obtain their objective. On 30 September 1918 at the Canal de l’Escaut, he again did good work causing considerable casualties to the enemy with a Lewis Gun. Throughout the operations he showed conspicuous gallantry and able leadership.’

D.C.M. London Gazette 17 April 1917: C.Z.2224 Petty Officer C. B. Wheeler, R.N.V.R. ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled three trench motors with marked ability, and greatly assisted in clearing up a difficult situation. He set a fine example throughout.’

London Gazette 26 March 1917: C.Z.2224 Acting Leading Seaman C. B. Wheeler, R.N.V.R. (Attached T.M.Bty).

2nd Lieutenant Colin Bain Wheeler, M.C., D.C.M., M.M., 82773, Royal Army Ordinance Corps, late Royal Naval Division, was
killed in action on 14th February 1942 during the defence of Singapore. He was aged 43 years and the son of Louis and Annie Wheeler and the husband of Mary Wheeler of Aberdeen. He is commemorated on Column No.7 of the Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial.

On the morning of 31st January 1942, the last retreating troops crossed the causeway to Singapore Island, leaving control of the mainland in the hands of the Japanese. The causeway was immediately demolished and the battle of Singapore was about to begin, with only a few days in which to make dispositions to counter the assault. Some reinforcements had just arrived; a number of Hurricane fighters flown off an aircraft-carrier, a light tank squadron from India, and the main body of the British 18th Division under Major General Beckwith-Smith.

The defences were divided into three main areas. For the Northern Area, the 3rd Indian Corps was responsible. The Southern Area, which included the city of Singapore, was defended by the original Fortress Troops, with most of the fixed defences, and the 1st and 2nd Malaya Infantry Brigades and the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force. In the Western Area was the Australian Imperial Force with the 44th Indian Infantry Brigade. On the 10th February, in the face of the immense Japanese attacking force, General Wavell visited Singapore and, before he left, issued orders that Singapore must be held to the last. By the 12th Singapore city itself was imminently threatened and orders were given to withdraw all forces within a perimeter around the city.

On the 13th, the main Japanese attack was made along a ridge to the west of Singapore city, and a start was made that evening with the evacuation of surplus staff officers, nurses, technicians and others. Many of these evacuees, travelling in small motor boats, were pursued by a Japanese destroyer and those on board were either drowned or taken prisoner. Early on the 14th water the situation had become desperate and it was estimated that at most the supply would last for forty-eight hours, possibly only for twenty-four. General Wavell in reply to a report on the situation urged that resistance should continue, and said,
“Your gallant stand is serving a purpose and must be continued to the limit of endurance”.

The Japanese made a concentrated attack on the night 14th/15th February and, in the face of the critical water supply, diminished ammunition reserves and only a few days food stocks remaining, terms of surrender were agreed with the Japanese commander, Lieut General Yamashita, and hostilities ceased at 8.30 in the evening of the 15th February.