Medals of a sailor who 'kept firing until the ship sunk under him' go up for sale

We've already covered some of the lots in Dix Noonan Webb's grand medals sale, which is now almost upon us.

The auction offers the Second World War MBE, Great War Military Cross and Bar and Distinguished Flying Cross of Wing Commander J H Norton, who knew Lawrence of Arabia. Then there is the set belonging to SAS hero and counter-insurgency leader Lieutenant-General Peter Walls.

We also mentioned the Vietnam medals set of Captain Barry Petersen, sponsored and then turned on by the CIA, whose fearsome militia were known as Tiger Men. All are strong investment opportunities.

One more medal set we should look at however, as it's relatively rare for a medal of the type leading it to come up: the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal set of Leading Seaman G R Fuller of the Royal Navy, awarded for his actions and behaviour on a dark day for the service: 27 April 1941, as three ships carrying British troops from Greece to Suda Bay.

Historian David A. Thomas explains: "Like Diamond, Wryneck's crew were fooled by the friendly markings on the wings of the fighter that came gliding down out of the sun to sweep her decks with cannon and machine-gun fire. In fact, they were taken so completely by surprise that her 4-inch guns never had a chance to come into action because their crews were all killed or wounded in a matter of seconds.

"But some of her close-range guns opened up before the alarm sounded on the bridge. And one of them was manned by Leading Seaman Fuller, who after being shot through the belly and thigh, kept on firing until the ship sank under him ..."

Fuller's Conspicuous Gallantry medal set
Fuller's Conspicuous Gallantry medal set
(Click to enlarge)

The remaining crew had a long and difficult route back to safety in a very leaky boat with their only water contaminated and compass smashed. Fuller, rather than complaining about his injuries, helped to keep the crew upbeat with his cheerfulness.

Fuller's Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was awarded in 1943 and heads a set including a 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; Pacific Star and War Medal 1939-45 all in nearly extremely fine condition and carrying an estimate of £8,000-10,000 in the auction, which takes place tomorrow (December 1) in London.


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