Auction: 18002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Lissa, Pelagosa (Samuel Hill), good very fine
Glendining's, January 1904 and May 1937.
Samuel Hill served as a Boy 3rd Class aboard H.M.S. Active for the Battle of Lissa (Vis, Croatia) on 13 March 1811. On that day, a massively outnumbered and outgunned British frigate squadron defeated a mixed squadron of French and Italian vessels for control of shipping in that portion of the Adriatic.
Aboard Active, Captain James Gordon had spotted the raiders in the early hours of the morning enabling a force to be assembled. As the French vessels bore down on the British, Captain William Hoste raised the signal:
What resulted was later considered to be one of the finest achievements of the entire Napoleonic Wars. Hoste's squadron drove the French flagship ashore and scattered the squadron. All four of the British vessels played their part and Active suffered 4 killed and 24 wounded, capturing the Italian Corona after a fierce fire fight.
She would later be commissioned into the Royal Navy as H.M.S. Daedalus.
Eight months later, Captain Gordon of the Active, with Hill transferred to the Unite sighted a French squadron off the island of Augusta in the morning of 29 November 1811. Captain Murray Maxwell of Alceste sent telegraph a to Gordon, shortly before the first shots were fired:
'Remember the Battle of Lissa.'
At 2p.m., Active arrived to pour fire into the Pomone, with Pauline and Alceste also sharing in the action. Pomone was suffering badly, but in a fierce 20-minutes, Active also took heavy fire. Gordon himself had his leg severed after he was hit with a 32-pounder carronade shot.
Unite was engaged with Persanne, which fired the first shots at the 32 gun ship under the command of Captain E. H. Chamberlayne. Having exchanged long range shots during the chase, Unite closed and took the surrender from the French Captain. By the close of play a British victory had been secured, with Unite suffering 2 killed and 4 wounded.
Hill appears upon the latest published roll as entitled to a single 'Lissa' clasp but he is confirmed as having served aboard Unite at the time of the Pelagosa action. His subsequent desertion at Tenedos in the Aegean no doubt complicated matters further down the line, but the Admiralty Claimants' List records his application for both clasps under the reference '49/2'. The above award - which was sent to the '2nd East London' postal district - appears entirely as issued.
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