July 18th 1917

KCB FOR CAPTAIN TYRWHITT

Capt. Reginald Tyrwhitt, CB, DSO, RN (Commodore, First Class).

The Times today has the joyous news of the award of a Dragon KCB:

“Captain Tyrwhitt has been concerned in some of the most brilliant naval exploits of the war, and the honour conferred on him by the King is well deserved. He commanded the destroyer flotillas in the famous action with a German squadron in Heligoland Bight on August 28th 1914. Concerning this action, which resulted in the destruction of the cruisers Mainz, Ariadne and Koln, the official despatch stated ‘his attack was delivered with great skill and gallantry.’ On the same date he was made CB…

He led the destroyer flotillas in the Dogger Bank action of January 24th 1915 and was in command of the Arethusa when she struck a mine and was wrecked off the east coast in February 1916.

Captain Tyrwhitt was awarded the DSO in June 1916, ‘in recognition of services rendered in the prosecution of the war,’ and was decorated Commander of the Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic in September 1916.

A scouting force of light cruisers and destroyers under Captain Tyrwhitt, on May 10th of the present year, chased 11 German destroyers for 80 minutes and engaged them at long range until they took refuge under the batteries of Zeebrugge. Only the precipitate flight of the enemy’s ships saved them from disaster.

A few weeks later, on June 5th, a force of light cruisers and destroyers under his command engaged six German destroyers at long range, and in a running fight one of the enemy’s ships, S20, was sunk and another was severely damaged.”

 

In addition, the London Gazette lists Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) as having been awarded the DSO:

“For conspicuous gallantry when in command of the right of an infantry attack. The attacking troops having been compelled to fall back, he collected the remnants of his battalion and about 100 men of other units, and, regardless of a heavy fire, he organised these in defence of a position, and by his fine example of courage and skill he successfully resisted three counter-attacks, and thus saved a critical situation.”

Fluff will no doubt be demanding another half-holiday for the boys on the back of this when he next visits!

 

To these awards, we should also note these honours which have been acquired in the course of this term:

 

Lieut.- Col AR Haig Brown (Middlesex Regiment) and Major S Low (RGA) have both been awarded the DSO.

Capt. GK Rose MC (OBLI) now has a Bar to his Military Cross. The citation reads:

“When in command of a raid on the enemy’s trenches, he displayed the greatest skill and energy. He organized an effective resistance to the enemy counter attack, and conducted a masterly withdrawal under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.”

The Croix de Guerre has been awarded to Capt. JD Denniston (RNR) and 2nd Lieut. CM Hughes-Games (Gloucs), has the MC:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed great coolness and initiative when in command of a daylight patrol, obtaining valuable information. He has at all times displayed great gallantry under fire.”

 

 

December 15th 1916

In the course of the last four months a number of our gallant Old Boys have been honoured and, as the end of another term approaches, they should be recorded on these pages:

Victoria Cross (VC)

Capt. William Leefe Robinson (RFC), “for conspicuous bravery. He attacked an enemy airship under circumstances of great difficulty and danger, and sent it crashing to the ground as a flaming wreck. He had been in the air for more than two hours and had previously attacked another airship during his flight.”

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

Capt. Harry Maule (North Lancs) has been awarded the DSO “for conspicuous gallantry when leading his company during operations. During several days’ fighting he set a fine example of cheerfulness and cool courage to those around him. He was three times knocked down by the blast of shells.” (Edinburgh Gazette, Sept. 28th 1916)

Major Ernest Knox (Sikhs) in Mesopotamia.

Major James Romanes (Royal Scots). “For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his battalion with the greatest courage and initiative. He set a splendid example throughout the operations.” (London Gazette, Nov. 25th 1916)

Military Cross (MC)

2nd Lieut. Stopford Jacks (RFA). “He, assisted by a sergeant, organised a party to extinguish a fire in a bomb store. Although burnt in several places, he continued at the work until the fire was extinguished.” (Edinburgh Gazette, Dec. 13th 1916)

2nd Lieut. Budge Pellatt (Royal Irish). “When a Platoon was required from his company to replace casualties in the front line, he at once volunteered and led his men forward with the greatest determination, though suffering heavy casualties.”

2nd Lieut. Northcote Spicer (RFA). “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in registering all batteries of the artillery brigade from the advanced lines prior to attack. He was severely wounded, chiefly from having to signal by flag, which was observed by the enemy.” (London Gazette, Oct. 20th 1916)

French Honours

‘The Times’ (Sept 16th) noted that Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt had been made Grand Officier of the Legion of Honour.

2nd Lieut. Trevor Hoey (OBLI) has been awarded the Croix de Guerre decoration by the French Commander on the Salonika front for distinguished conduct, referred to in the Army Orders as follows:

“When all the other officers were placed hors de combat, he took command and led the final charge against the Bulgarian position, which was brilliantly carried at the point of the bayonet.”

Mentioned in Despatches

2nd Lieut. FRG Duckworth (RFA) in Salonika, Capt. WW Fisher (RN) & Cdr GH Freyberg (RN) at Jutland, Maj. EF Knox (36th Sikhs) – for the second time, Capt. RJK Mott (Staff) in Salonika, Lieut. JC Slessor (RFC) in Egypt, and Maj. RD Whigham (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) – for the second time.

It is difficult to express just how proud we are when our Old Boys distinguish themselves so.

June 7th 1916

As far as one can tell, there have been no other casualties amongst the naval Old Dragons at Jutland – for which we are all most thankful.

Charles Fisher’s brother Captain William Fisher (HMS St Vincent) was also involved in this action, and was lucky enough just prior to the battle to be able to spend some time with Charles.

WW Fisher

William Fisher

“Charles and I were on shore together having the greatest fun when recalled, as we have been recalled dozens of times before.”

Then, by another extraordinary coincidence, he found himself at the scene of his brother’s death very shortly after the event:

“Exactly twenty-four hours later the ‘St. Vincent’ steamed past the wreck of a ship which we took to be a German. We were, with other ships near us in the line, engaging four German Dreadnaughts at the time, but I looked to see if there was anyone in the water near this ship and saw nothing – not even floating wreckage. All round was still calm water.

The wreck might have been there for weeks – and yet we know now she went down only about a quarter of an hour before our arrival. Her bow was high in the air and so was her stern, the centre having been split in two and apparently resting on the bottom.”

Invincible sunk

The wreck of HMS Invincible

It was not long before someone spotted on the starboard side at the stern, the name: HMS Invincible, and William realised that he had lost his brother.

William writes of Charles:

“I am comforted by the knowledge that he who had seen so much carnage will have steadied everyone near him.

How proud I have been to walk about as Charles’s brother, and prouder, if possible, than ever now…”

These are sentiments we can all share.

* * * * * * * *

TyrwhittIt is good to read some good news at this time. In today’s Court Circular column it is recorded that Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt was yesterday invested by the King at Buckingham Palace with the insignia of a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order.

April 6th 1916

We have noted an Admiralty despatch of March 25th regarding an encounter during a blizzard in the North Sea between a division of German destroyers and some of our light cruisers. During this engagement HMS Cleopatra (on which Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt flies his pennant) rammed and sank one of the enemy destroyers.

HMS Cleopatra

HMS Cleopatra

 

“The snow hid the ships from each other until they were at close range. The Cleopatra recognised an enemy at once and rushed headlong at her, pouring in at the same time a staggering fire. The enemy was absolutely paralysed by the swiftness of the rush and the deadly character of the gunnery.

The Cleopatra was moving at great speed and, light as she is, her sharp bows drove deeply into the hull of the enemy, hurling the destroyer ahead of her.

Listing heavily, with the sea pouring into her shattered hull, the stricken enemy fell away from the bows of the cruiser and the blinding snow came down and hid her from view, as the cruiser plunged on in the darkness.

There was a rush to the place where the destroyer was last seen, but the storm held and the snow descended steadily, and when the spot where the destroyer had been was located, there was nothing on the wind-driven surface of the sea but some debris and a film of oil.”

 

 

 

May 14th 1915

Tyrwhitt

An investiture was held today at Buckingham Palace at which Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt RN had the honour of being received by his Majesty the King and was invested with the Insignia of a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military Division).

Reginald reports that he had a twenty minute talk with the King in which “he was perfectly charming and at the end he gave me my C.B. without any formality, which pleased me enormously.”

This award was made to Reginald in recognition of his role in devising and leading the attack on the German forces off Heligoland Bight on August 28th 1914.

February 8th 1915

Tyrwhitt

Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt

Some of the earliest Old Dragons will remember Regie Tyrwhitt, whose father was vicar of St Mary Magdalen’s here in Oxford. Regie joined the Navy straight from the OPS in 1882, by way of the training ship HMS Britannia.

HMS Arethusa

Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt’s ship, HMS Arethusa.

Now Commodore in charge of the Harwich Force on HMS Aruthusa, he was involved last month in an action off Dogger Bank, about which we have received the following account (from an unknown source) of the sinking of the German battleship ‘Blucher’.

“The ‘Lion’ led the British line and began to pour upon the ‘Blucher’ the deluge of shells which crippled her, but by the time the ‘Blucher’ had ceased steaming, the ‘Lion’ herself had been hit by a chance shot and her speed reduced. At this moment the ‘Arethusa’ was at hand. In spite of the aircraft, submarines and the fire of the big guns she went at full speed towards the damaged ‘Blucher’. When close in, the ‘Arethusa’ swung round. She was greeted with a salvo from the ‘Blucher’ at short range, but every shot went wide. They were the last the ‘Blucher’ fired. Before the smoke had cleared the ‘Arethusa’ discharged two torpedoes and both got home.”

Blucher

The demise of the German battleship ‘Blucher’.

A member of the Arethusa’s crew described the scene on the deck of the ‘Blucher’.

“They drew themselves up on the deck in lines when they knew all was over and then, taking off their caps, gave three cheers.

We steamed in as close as we could and shouted to them to jump, which lots of them did just before she heeled over. We had boats out in no time and picked up 197 altogether. They were mostly black and blue with cold – but all they wanted was some fags.”

Another account noted that “each of the German sailors had been provided with special life-saving apparatus – a cork belt and an inflatable apparatus fastened about the shoulders. The latter was made of rubber and is about 24 ins. long by 10 ins. wide; it can be blown up by the wearer in a moment and is so made that when in use the air-feed pipe comes opposite the mouth. The Germans declared that any sailor who loses this article is liable to a fine of 11 shillings.

As the Germans were helped into the boats a strange scene took place. They took every article of value they were wearing, such as rings, purses and watches and implored our men to accept them as tokens of their gratitude. ‘On land,’ said one, ‘we can beat you, but here, no.’”