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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 138

(x) A fine Second War ‘Bomb Disposal’ G.M. group of three awarded to Lieutenant W. N. Bennett, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, for his gallantry in rendering mines safe off the west coast of Wales, December 1941

George Medal, G.VI.R., 1st issue (Lieut. William Norman Bennett. R.N.V.R.) engraved naming; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, contact marks and edge bruising to the GM, therefore very fine (3)

G.M. London Gazette 16 June 1942:

‘For gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.’

The Recommendation states:

‘This officer has shown the greatest possible zeal and devotion to duty in rendering British mines safe. For a considerable time he had to carry out this duty single-handed without any assistance whatsoever. He has shown a complete lack of fear for his personal safety in highly dangerous circumstances. On one occasion, in the depth of winter, whilst rendering safe a mine which had been washed ashore, he waded out to another which was drifting ashore in a dangerous position in an endeavour to prevent it doing so by mooring it. The seas, however, proved too heavy and the mine eventually exploded ashore. In addition to his keenness and devotion to duty, this officer is absolutely tireless.’

The original letter of recommendation, from the Minesweeping Office, R.N. Base, Milford Haven, ands dated 4 February 1942, gives further details:

'I have the honour to submit the name of Lieutenant William Norman Bennett, R.N.V.R., for a decoration in connection with his duties in rendering mines safe, which have been washed ashore. Lieutenant Bennett has carried out this duty for many months with great keenness and ability and with complete disregard for his personal safety, particularly in instances where other persons or property have been endangered. Besides rendering mines safe ashore, he has dealt with, by boat, mines caught up with their moorings in such dangerous positions as aircraft landing areas and target areas - not an easy operation even in calm weather.?On one occasion [on 11 December 1941], he waded out to a mine in rough seas in winter in an endeavour to prevent it coming ashore, and on another [on 4 December 1941], being forced to detonate a mine, he had only seven minutes in which to scale a cliff 150 feet in height by Jacob’s ladder in order to get clear.

Until the last two months, Lieutenant Bennett has had to work without any assistance whatsoever. In view of the fact that many mines, supposedly safe, had exploded on contact with the shore, Lieutenant Bennett has known that every mine is a potential danger. I have no hesitation in recommending him for his services, so bravely, tirelessly, and cheerfully carried out.’

William Norman Bennett served as a Temporary Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving in H.M.S. Skirmisher. The act of gallantry mentioned in the G.M. Recommendation took place in the sea off the west coast of Wales near Barmouth on 4 December 1941.

A duplicate issue G.VI.R. 2nd Type George Medal, correctly named to this man, was sold at Noonans in September 2022; why a duplicate medal was issued to the recipient is unknown. However, given that the medal in this lot is a G.VI.R. 1st Type, then the Medal in this lot is undoubtedly the original issue.

Subject to 5% tax on Hammer Price in addition to 20% VAT on Buyer’s Premium.

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