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.”

 

 

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.’”