Auction Catalogue

12 May 2015

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№ 417


12 May 2015

Hammer Price:

A fine Second World War D.S.M., B.E.M. group of seven awarded to Petty Officer F. G. Quested, Royal Navy, who was gunlayer of the anti-submarine trawler H.M.S. Moonstone during her ‘David and Goliath’ contest with an Italian submarine Galileo Galilei in June 1940: forced to surrender on account of the trawler’s excellent gunnery work, the latter was taken by a prize crew and delivered in triumph to Aden: his resultant D.S.M. - possibly the first such award for an action against the Italians - was gazetted just 16 days later

Distinguished Service Medal, G.VI.R. (J. 93236 F. G. Quested, P.O., H.M.S. Moonstone); British Empire Medal, (Military) G.VI.R., 1st issue (C.P.O. Frederick G. Quested, D.S.M., C./J. 93236); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; France and Germany Star; War Medal 1939-45, very fine and better (7) £2500-3000

D.S.M. London Gazette 5 July 1940:

‘For daring, enterprise and skill in capturing an Italian U-Boat of superior gun power in the Red Sea.’

The original recommendation states:

‘Petty Officer F. Quested, the gunlayer, who did some really good shooting, considering the sea, swell and my manoeuvring.’

London Gazette 1 January 1946.

Frederick George Quested was, as cited above, decorated for his excellent gunnery skills on the occasion the anti-submarine trawler H.M.S.
Moonstone engaged and captured the Italian U-Boat Galileo Galilei on 19 June 1940. It was in many respects a remarkable achievement, Moonstone’s displacement being far outweighed by the Italian U-Boat’s 900 tons. Almost twice the length of Moonstone, the Italian submarine also had far superior guns - namely 100mm. L/43 Deck Guns either side of her conning tower.

In his official report of the action, his C.O., Boatswain W. J. H. Moorman, R.N., who was awarded an immediate D.S.C., stated:

‘1230 hours: Submarine observed breaking surface astern. Range opening - 2,000 yards (approx.). Submarine opened fire, while
Moonstone turned as quickly as possible.

1232 hours: Opened fire. Kept bow on to submarine who appeared to be firing torpedoes. Range slowly closing.

1238 hours: Range closing rapidly. Lewis guns kept up a withering fire, which kept the enemy’s guns’ crews away from their guns. Third and fifth rounds were near shorts or overs. The enemy’s firing was very erratic. When the range closed to 500 yards, my shipping party, all spare hands, armed with rifles, with gunwhales for breastworks, also opened up a slow and deliberate fire. Thus the enemy’s decks were being subjected to a really deadly fusilade.

The range closed to 450 yards. The submarine by this time had stopped when a direct hit on the base of the conning tower, followed by one on the top, finished the action. The crew were observed to rush on deck, colours hauled down, and those who had any clothing of a white looking nature at all, frantically waved it.

This was accepted as a token of surrender and the order “Cease Fire” was given. Time 1255 hours.

Moonstone closed the submarine with the object of getting the captain on board, and establishing communication. This was not successful as the crew seemed to be about to jump for it, so as to force me to pick them up.

The enemy appeared in no danger of sinking. Therefore I made off to a safe distance and waited for
Kandahar, who by now had appeared on the horizon, to help decide what should be done with the prize.

1334 hours:
Kandahar arrived - took over prize.’

Galileo Galilei’s crew had suffered badly, five officers, seven Petty Officers and four seamen being killed, the former including the submarine’s C.O., Corrado Nardi.

Awarded an immediate D.S.M. for his part in the action - the announcement for which appeared in the
London Gazette just 16 days later - Quested received his decoration at a Buckingham Palace investiture held on 14 November 1944.

In January 1946, he added the B.E.M. to his accolades for services in
Royal Edgar, a naval base established in Hamburg after V.E. Day.

Sold with an original wartime edition of
The War magazine, with front cover feature of Moonstone’s celebrated encounter, together with copied D.S.M. investiture photograph and newspaper cutting, the latter reporting that the Galileo Galilei’s captured pennants later ended up adorning the walls of the public bar of the Railway Commercial Inn in St. John’s Road, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.