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The Bill and Angela Strong Medal

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Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500
ca. US$1,961 - US$2,451
Price realised:  £3,100
ca. US$5,066
Lot number 565, Views: 12

The Bill and Angela Strong Medal Collection An important Great War group of six awarded to Captain W. R. D. Irvine, Royal Naval Reserve, who was in command of the S.S. Laconia on the occasion of her loss to an enemy submarine off the Fastnet in February 1917 - a loss that hastened the United States’ declaration of war against Germany a few weeks later 1914-15 Star (Commr. W. R. D. Irvine, R.D., R.N.R.); British War Medal 1914-20 (Commr. W. R. D. Irvine, R.N.R.); Mercantile Marine War Medal 1914-18 (William R. D. Irvine); Victory Medal 1914-19 (Commr. W. R. D. Irvine, R.N.R.); Coronation 1911; Royal Naval Reserve Decoration, G.V.R., silver, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London, 1911, minor contact wear to the Coronation Medal, good very fine and better (6) £1200-1500 Footnote William Robert Duncan Irvine, who was born in November 1863, passed out of the training ship Conway in 1882 and completed his first seagoing trip as an Apprentice aboard the British Antanador in 1884-85. Having then gained further experience with other shipping lines in voyages to the Far East and Australasia, he transferred to the Cunard Line in November 1895, in which capacity he served on the Liverpool-New York run, gaining steady advancement to Chief Officer in the Caronia in February 1905, and to Master of the Veria in September of the same year. Meanwhile, in common with other Mercantile Marine officers, he had been commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve, gaining experience on assorted R.N. courses and advancement to Lieutenant in August 1899 and to Commander in July 1910. By the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Irvine was in command of the S.S. Laconia, his previous R.N.R. training being put to good use when the liner was shortly thereafter converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Thus equipped, Laconia served in the South Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean, in addition being employed as a headquarters ship during the operations leading to the capture of Tanga in German East Africa. The in July 1916, she was returned to Cunard and resumed her usual cross-Atlantic voyages, work that led to her famous demise on 25 February 1917, when torpedoed by the U-50 some 160 miles N.W. by W. off the Fastnet - one torpedo having struck the liner at 10.33 p.m. on the starboard side just abaft the engine room, another found its mark in the engine room from point blank range about 30 minutes later, and she sank at 11.45 p.m. The Laconia had 292 persons on board, comprising 34 First Class and 41 Second Class passengers, including women and children, in addition to Irvine and his crew, and of these 12 died, including Mrs. Mary Hoy and her daughter Elizabeth, from Chicago - the survivors had to pass several hours in open boats before being picked up by the sloop H.M.S. Laburnum. Irvine’s accompanying typescript account of the sinking, written at the Midland Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, adds much detail to events that fateful night, and he is quick to praise his officers and crew, and the passengers, for all ‘behaved splendidly ... I did not see a single case of panic and their departure from the ship was greatly due to the very prompt manner in which they carried out their boat drill, which we had fortunately had opportunities to practice a number of times on the voyage.’ He goes on to relate how he was one of 10 officers and crew who remained aboard after the first torpedo hit, and of their providential escape after the second torpedo smashed into the engine room 30 minutes later. The accompanying carbon copy typescript also includes the following observations of an anonymous author - possibly his wife: ‘On arrival at the rescue ship, Will [Irvine] had all leave his life boat first, crawling up the rope ladder at the ship’s side or being hauled up as some were too exhausted to crawl up. Of course, as each one got out of the boat, it became lighter and was tossing around furiously when he was left alone. And as he was trying to hold on to the ladder, a wave washed ove

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Dix Noonan Webb
Title: The Collection of Medals Formed by Bill and Angela... (18 May 2011)
Date of the auction: 18 May 2011
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