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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 87

The remarkable Boxer Rebellion and Great War campaign group of five awarded to Captain S. E. Holder, Royal Navy, who was mentioned as a Midshipman for his services in the advance on Tientsin

Later joining Indomitable
he saw action with her at Dogger Bank and Jutland, winning an Imperial Russian award for the latter, later being advanced Captain and seeing Second World War service

China 1900, 1 clasp, Relief of Pekin (Midsn. S. E. Holder, R.N., H.M.S. Endymion); 1914-15 Star (Lt. Commr. S. E. Holder, R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (Commr. S. E. Holden, R.N.), note surname spelling; Russia, Order of St. Anne, 3rd Class breast badge, with swords, by Eduard, St. Petersburg, 36 x 36mm., gold and enamel, with manufacturer’s name on reverse, ‘56’ gold mark on eyelet and ‘kokoshnik’ marks for St. Petersburg 1908-17 on reverse of sword hilts, mounted court-style as worn, traces of solder marks to reverse of St. Anne, good very fine (5)

Order of St. Anne, with swords, 3rd Class London Gazette 5 June 1917.

M.I.D. London Gazette 5 October 1900.

Stuart Elton Holder was born at Tiverton, Devon, in February 1884 and joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet at Britannia in January 1900.


Commissioned Midshipman on 15 May 1900, his first posting afloat was with H.M.S. Endymion. It was with this vessel that he joined the Seymour Expedition to Pekin, earning a mention in despatches for his service in June 1900 and the subsequent operations in Tientsin.

Advanced to Sub-Lieutenant while with the Edgar on 15 June 1903 he was further promoted Lieutenant aboard London on 31 December 1905. Qualifying for work in Torpedo Boats Holder received his first command in T.B.76 in January 1906. This was followed by a number of small commands including Hardy, Panther and Flirt before his promotion to Lieutenant-Commander on 31 December 1913 as an officer with the Indomitable. He was still serving with this Battlecruiser on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 and remained with her for the duration of the war.

Dogger Bank and Jutland

Opening the conflict in the Mediterranean he was present for the pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau to Istanbul. Transferring to Britain Indomitable was part of the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Dogger Bank on 23 January 1915. During that action she fired over 100 heavy calibre shells into the Armoured Cruiser Blucher, later towing the damaged Lion back to port.

At the Battle of Jutland on 31 May-1 June 1916, she was stationed with the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron. This unit was attached to Jellicoe's Grand Fleet rather than the Battlecruiser Fleet under Beatty but was pushed ahead to the slow moving Grand Fleet in support of the Battlecruisers in their Run to the North. The fresh ships brought a new energy to the British and the fighting intensified with Indomitable firing 175 shells from her main armaments. Along with the rest of her Squadron she is credited with a number of hits, eight of which fell upon Lutzow which was later scuttled due to the damage.

As the Battlecruisers rejoined the Grand Fleet and Jellicoe prepared to cross the German 'T' disaster struck. Shells from Lutzow and Derfflinger struck Indomitable's sister ship Invincible and she detonated in a huge explosion. With the death of Rear-Admiral Hood in this blast Captain Kennedy of Indomitable took command of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron. Holder was awarded the 3rd Class of the Russian Order of St. Anne, with swords for his role in the Battle.

Second World War

Given command of H.M.S. Talbot in the wake of the war he went on to hold various positions including a number of shore based appointments. Having then reverted to the Retired List as a Captain (retired) on 12 February 1930, he was recalled in September 1939. Posted first to Southampton as Divisional Sea Transport Officer in 1939 he was later joined the training establishment Wolverstone a landing craft training and loading base. His final post was in command of the landing craft base Arbella in Lincolnshire from February 1944.

Holder died in July 1951; sold together with copied service papers as well as the recipient’s silver napkin ring, hallmarks for London 1901, engraved initials ‘S. E. H.’ and complete list of career appointments, from ‘H.M.S. Britannia 1898’ to ‘Rosyth 1928’ and ‘Retired Feb. 1930’; together with a painted metalled figure of an R.N. officer in tropical kit, mounted on a wooden plinth with silver-plated plaque, this latter with engraved inscription, ‘Commander S. E. Holder, R.N., H.M.S. Cornflower, April 1923 - March 1925’; and a career photograph album, circa 1913-30, including many images of a naval interest, ships, fellow officers, etc., worn leather binding, contents good.

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