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A fine Second World War D.S.M. group of

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000
ca. US$3,964 - US$4,757
Price realised:  £7,200
ca. US$11,418
Lot number 1608, Views: 10

A fine Second World War D.S.M. group of five awarded to Petty Officer L. Kemp, Royal Navy, who, having been decorated and mentioned in despatches for his gallantry aboard the gunboat H.M.S. Ladybird, was killed in action in H.M.S. Campbeltown in the famous St. Nazaire raid in March 1942 Distinguished Service Medal, G.VI.R. (JX. 140210 L. Kemp, L. Smn., H.M.S. Ladybird); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; War Medal 1939-45, M.I.D. oak leaf, together with original card forwarding box the campaign awards, addressed to his mother, extremely fine (5) £2500-3000 Footnote D.S.M. London Gazette 7 October 1941: ‘For courage and coolness when their ship was sunk by enemy aircraft.’ Leslie Kemp was had previously been mentioned in despatches for his gallant deeds aboard the gunboat H.M.S. Ladybird (London Gazette 12 August 1941 refers), when she was badly damaged landing Royal Marines during “Operation Abstention”, an ill-fated attempt to seize the Italian island of Kastelorizo, in February 1941. The original recommendation - for a decoration - stated: ‘Leading Seaman Kemp, as Chief Quarter-Master, was at the wheel during the whole period of the enemy bombing attacks on 25 February. In the face of heavy and accurate bombing he showed considerable devotion to duty and behaved with courage and coolness during the attacks.’ Later lending her support to the Tobruk garrison, ferrying in supplies and bombarding the enemy airfield at Gazala, Ladybird met her end on 12 May 1941, the same occasion on which Kemp won his D.S.M. Her skipper, Commander John Blackburn, R.N., later described events that day: ‘We were anchored at Tobruk on 12 May, when 47 Nazi bombers swooped towards us. My Chief Gunner’s Mate saw the first plane dropping out of the sun shine, and it laid a stick of bombs so near that their explosion flung the crew to the deck. The there was a terrific screech, and there came another lot, one of which got us right aft, almost immediately putting the deck under water. Then another bomb got us in the engine-room. The ship shivered from stem to stern and was obviously sinking, but my men urged me to carry on. We were burning like hell amidships and fire was pouring out of the engine-room. I saw many of my men dash into the inferno and carry out the wounded, while the forward six-inch guns, pom-poms and machine-guns sprayed a hail of metal at the Nazi planes. The planes swarmed around us, dropping more bombs. By this time the wounded were helping to feed the guns as the planes swarmed around us. We got two of them. Rescue boats arrived from shore and took aboard the first of the wounded. We still kept firing our forward guns, but Ladybird was sinking fast with the water sweeping closer to the bridge every moment. Even then the sailors, gunners and officers, with fire all round them, and half the guns under water, said to me: “Carry on, sir, please.” They stayed until, at the last minute, when the old ship was rolling for her final plunge. I ordered them to abandon ship. She went down with what guns we could man firing to the last.’ The Ladybird had four men killed and 14 wounded. Admiral Cunningham, C.-in-C. Mediterranean, sent the following signal to Commander Blackburn: ‘Great fighting finish worthy of the highest ideals and tradition of the Navy and an inspiration for all who fight on the sea.’ St. Nazaire In what capacity Kemp was employed in the interim remains unknown, but by early 1942 he had joined the former American four-stacker Campbeltown, shortly to be allocated a key role in forthcoming “Operation Chariot” - namely to ram the southern caisson of the Normandie Dock in St. Nazaire, laden with delayed action explosives, thereby destroying the facility and denying the mighty Tirpitz use of the only suitable dry-dock on the Atlantic coast. Accordingly, over a two week period in March 1942, the Campbeltown was fitted out at Devonport and outwardly altered to resemble a German Mowe-class torpedo boat, while internally she was

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Dix Noonan Webb
Title: Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 September 2013)
Date of the auction: 19 Sep 2013 - 20 Sep 2013
Address: Dix Noonan Webb
16 Bolton St, Mayfair
W1J 8BQ London
United Kingdom
[email protected] · +44 (0)20 7016 1700 · +44 (0)20 7016 1799