To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”


HMS Exeter

Graf Spee Action Awards

Services during the action

London Gazette 1940/02/23

Supplement:34796 Page:1061


                        Admiralty, Whitehall.

                         2nd February, 1940.

The KING having already been graciously pleased, after the first phase of the Battle, to give orders for the following appointments to the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, in recognition of the gallant and successful action with the " Admiral Graf Spec " (to be dated the 13th of December, 1939)


To be Additional Members of the Military Division of the Third Class, or Companions, of the said Most Honourable Order:-

Captain Frederick Seeker Bell, R.N., H.M.S. Exeter;


To be Companions of the Distinguished Service Order:-

Commander Robert R. Graham, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Exeter; who, as Commanders of their Ships, having done all they could during the long months of waiting to perfect their Ships and Ships' companies, so that they stood the test ,of battle, when the day for action came, heartened all by their readiness, example and encouragement.

Commander (E) Charles E. Simms, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Exeter; who, by his zeal and energy, brought his engines to full power in record time, and by his thorough knowledge of the ship and perfect organisation, checked the damage. His calm and cheerful manner set a fine example to his fellows.


Distinguished Service Cross

Midshipman Archibald Cameron, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Exeter; who, when an n-inch shell burst above an ammunition locker and set it alight, with great calmness and foresight ordered two guns' crews to take shelter. The locker exploded, wounding some of the second crew and setting alight another locker. As soon as the main fire abated, with the help of an Able Seaman, he smothered the flames of the burning woodwork. The two of them then threw the unexploded shells over the side. These were still hot and the brass cartridge cases were either missing or split open. The bottom row of ammunition had not burned, and this also was thrown over the side. Throughout the action he showed the utmost coolness and resource. He never failed to make the best use of his guns'- crews.


Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

William G. Gwilliam, Able Seaman, H.M.S. Exeter; who helped Midshipman Cameron to smother the flames of a burning ammunition locker, and to throw hot shells, with their brass cases either missing or split open, over the side. He showed no regard for his own safety in putting out fires- on the Upper Deck near the aircraft from which petrol was leaking.


Wilfred A. Russell, Royal Marines, H.M.S. Exeter; who, having his left forearm blown away and his right arm shattered when a Turret was put out of action by a direct hit from an n-inch shell, refused all but first aid, remained on deck and went about cheering on his shipmates and putting courage into them by his great fortitude; and did not give in until the heat of the battle was over. He has since died of wounds.


Stoker (First Class) Patrick O'Brien, H.M.S. Exeter; who, when ordered from the Damage Control Headquarters to make contact with the Main Switchboard, found his way through the Chief Petty Officers' Flat where' an n-inch shell had just burst. Through the dense and deadly smoke, escaping steam and high explosive fumes, he made contact with the Main Switchboard and so with the Engine Room Artificer in the Forward Dynamo Room. From there he returned by way of the Upper Deck and led his party into the reeking Flat.


Distinguished Service Cross

Commander Charles J. Smith, Royal Navy; who showed great calm and resource when communications had failed, in passing an order for port helm and in firing the starboard tubes at the correct moment. When required he conned the ship from aft, and after the action worked tirelessly to repair electrical damage, although wounded in the leg.


Commander Richard B. Jennings, Royal Navy; who throughout the action controlled the main armament with great calmness and skill. When only one Turret was left in action he tried to spot from the after control position though standing over the muzzles of the guns. Throughout and after the battle he was untiring in his work of keeping the turret in action and in directing the ship's company to dear away the debris, the Commander being wounded.


Lieutenant Aidan E. Toase, Royal Marines; who was very active and resourceful in assisting to render the turret safe after it had been hit by an n-inch shell.


Surgeon-Lieutenant Roger W. G. Lancashire, Royal Navy; who, during the action and throughout the passage to the Falklands, with no sleep, worked cheerfully and unceasingly in tending the wounded.


Midshipman Robert W. D. Don, Royal Navy; who, throughout the action showed great calm, resource and initiative, especially in running hoses into the burning Marines' barracks, in fighting a fire over the lower steering position, and in rescuing the wounded.


Warrant Shipwright Charles E. Rendle, Royal Navy; who controlled the shoring up and general repairs to the after section of the ship during the action. His untiring energy and great skill in effecting repairs, and so making the ship watertight after action, were beyond praise.


Distinguished Service Medal

James McGarry, Engine Room Artificer, Second Class; who on his own initiative at the beginning of the action flooded the petrol compartment. After the two shell bursts near him and in dense fumes, with dead and dying around him, himself blown against a bulkhead and temporarily stunned, he maintained complete charge. He got Shipwrights to investigate damage and organised stretcher parties and the work in his area. On the arrival of'the Engineer Officer he made a complete report while a messenger supported him.


Frank L. Bond, Engine Room Artificer, Fourth Class; who, on a shell entering the Flat in which he was, stood fast in the dense fumes, and, waiting until the last man was reported clear of a Magazine, then flooded it. He then went to the main centre of the fire to ascertain damage. He found the flooding valve spindles shot away, the fire main shattered but enough flow of water into the magazine from the damaged fire main. So he carried on fighting the fire in the Chief Petty Officers' Flat. After the action he performed his duties with marked zeal and cheerfulness.


Arthur B. Wilde, Sergeant,. Plymouth; who, ordering. the evacuation of a Turret after the Gun House had been hit by an. eleven-inch shell, calmly put 'a.tourniquet of« rope-rounds the stump .of a-Marine's arm.' He then returned to the Gun House where he found a fire over the rammer of the left gun. This rammer contained a charge of cordite. He organised a chain system of buckets to. the turret, put out the fire, removed the cordite, and threw the charge over the side.


Herbert V. Chalkley, Acting Petty Officer; who, shortly after an eleven-inch shell burst in the Chief Petty Officers' Flat above the dynamo room in which he was, managed to open the door in the escape truck and crawl over the wreckage to'the switchboard hatch. He could not clear the wreckage away, and realising that his services could be dispensed with in the dynamo room, he scrambled up the dynamo escape trunk to th§ upper deck, returned to the flat and helped the fire parties in getting the fire under control and isolated circuits there. The conditions in these two flats were very bad at the time that he was trying to escape from the dynamo room. His work with the fire parties was outstanding.


Charles D. Pope, Sick Berth Chief Petty Officer; who, when returning from the fore part of the Sick Bay with bottles of Morphine Sulphate Solution, was knocked flat and temporarily unconscious by a shell bursting and badly perforating that end of the Sick Bay. The bottles were broken, but when he recovered he went back through the smoke and fumes and not finding more solution brought back with him Morphia Ampoules. Throughout the action he displayed great coolness, initiative and cheerful optimism despite the floods in the Sick Bay. After the action his nursing and devotion to the wounded was exemplary.


Charles F. Hallas, Petty Officer; who was the Torpedo Gunner's Mate in charge of the torpedo tubes. Although wounded at the start of the action he remained at his station until all torpedoes were fired. He then formed parties to deal with fires on deck and help the wounded. After the action he worked unceasingly in repairing damaged circuits. His cheerfulness throughout was a great encouragement to all who were working with him.


John L. Minhinett, Stoker, First Class; who, when taken wounded to the After Medical Station, refused all attention until he was certain that the message he had been carrying had been delivered. This message stated that the steering had been changed over to Number 3 position.


Eric A. Shoesmith, Acting Leading Airman, F.A.A.; who on his own initiative, despite his clothing being soaked in petrol, climbed on to the top of the centre section of the aircraft and cleared the triatic stay which had .fallen across it, thus freeing' the aircraft for jettisoning. . While he did this the ship was under heavy fire, the petrol leaking from . the aircraft was a great danger, and a Turret -was firing.on-a forward bearing.


George E. Smith, Plumber, Third Class; who, shortly after the explosion in the Chief Petty Officers' Flat, took a party of Stokers there to free the Main Switchboard Room's hatch. At the time the flat was in darkness, reeking with fumes and smoke, full of debris. and with the possibility of little deck supporting.


Frederick Knight, Joiner (Third Class); who, while bleeding in the face and badly shaken by the n-inch shells exploding on the forecastle Messdeck, used great initiative in improvising stretchers for the wounded, in examining compartments underneath the damage and in plugging holes in the upper deck.


William E. Green, Petty Officer; who, as Chief Quartermaster, when the upper steering position was put out of action by an n-inch shell exploding on a Turret ensured that the secondary steering position was correct and fully manned. Finding it to be so he started aft to see that the after steering position also was correct; on his way he was seriously wounded.


Joseph A. Rooskey, Chief Mechanician (Second Class); whose work was outstanding among all those on the catapult platforms jettisoning the aircraft. His calmness, skill and initiative were most valuable and set a splendid example to all those around him. Alfred J. Ball, Able Seaman; who when taken wounded to the Fore Medical Station himself gave first aid to the other wounded and by his willingness and cheerfulness was of great help to the Fore Medical Station.


Stephen J. Smith, Petty Officer; who was in charge of the After Repair Party. A few minutes after the action opened a shell bursting close to the ship aft caused the flooding of Number 3 Breaker Room and much damage to the leads there. His prompt action in running emergency circuits to a Turret and the after steering motor helped to maintain the ship in action.


Thomas G. Phillips, Engine Room Artificer (Third Class); who got the two extra dynamos on load in record time. As the result of an explosion he and his party were trapped in the forward Dynamo Room which filled with dense fumes and smoke. One dynamo had stopped and with the exhaust fan out of action he skilfully effected the repairs needed to get the machine running again.


Sidney A. Carter, Master-at-Arms; who, though wounded in the right knee and severely bruised by a splinter early in the action, carried on tirelessly and devotedly his duty in the After Medical Party.


Eric T. Dakin, Sick Berth Attendant; who had been in the ship only a week, having been lent from H.M.S. Ajax, his first ship. His conduct throughout the action was exemplary. He carried out instructions perfectly, his first-aid treatment was very good and his quiet gentle manner gave great confidence to the wounded. His ability to take charge and keep order in difficulties was splendid.


Paymaster Commander Henry B. John, M.B.E.


Lieutenant Donald T. McBarnet, R.N.


Surgeon Commander John Cussen, R.N.


Sub-Lieutenant (E) John W. Mott, R.N.


Acting Sub-Lieutenant Clyde A. L. Morse, R.N.


Senior Master Ernest A. Doust, R.N.


Gunner Stanley J. Dallaway, R.N.


Stoker Petty Officer Albert _S


Chief Shipwright Anthony C. Ceilings.


Electrical Artificer (First Class) Philip A. England.


Sergeant George W. Puddifoot.


Chief Stoker George I. Crocker.


Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist Harold E. Newman


Ordnance Artificer (First Class) William E. Johns


Sick Berth Petty Officer Clifford J. Scoble.


Chief Petty Officer Steward Joseph W Watts


Leading Telegraphist Cyril H. Lansdowne.


Bandmaster (Second Class) Leonard C. Bagley.


''Our Thanks for being a Chapter in our Life.''




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