D.S.C. group with N.G.S. Palestine. D.S.C. 1944 (D Day aboard Infantry Landing Craft Sword Beach), M.I.D. H.M.S. Keith when sunk at Dunkirk, also served H.M.S. Cossack 1941 when sunk with heavy loss

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Product code: A8073

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Medal Description

D.S.C. (GV1), reverse 1944, N.G.S. clasp Palestine, (Lieut. R.N.), 1939/45 Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal (M.I.D.)

Lieut. Cmdr. R.W. Hughes

Mounted as originally worn.

D.S.C. L.G. 14/11/1944.

'For gallantry, skill, determination and undaunted devotion to duty during the landing of the Allied Forces on the coast of Normandy'

M.I.D. L.G. 16/8/1940.

HMS Keith “For good services in the withdrawal of the Allied armies from the beaches at Dunkirk”)

Robert Hughes Walker, b. 1912, Cadet 1930, Midsh. 1931, A/S. Lt. 1933, Lt. 1936, Lt. Cmdr. 1944, ret. 1957 died Surrey S.W. district 1971.

WW2 services from Naval History 9/1939 St. Angelo Malta, Signal Training Centre, 12/1939 HMS Resource, 4/1940 Staff, 6/1940 H.M.S. Keith, B class destroyer, for signal & transfer duties (despatches), 6/40 - 6/41 Naval bases Orlando & Victory, 6/1941-10/41 H.M.S. Cossack,  12/1941 - 4/1942, no appointment listed, 4/1942- H.M.S. Mercury experimental signal establishment Petersfield, 6/1944 LCI (S) 518 (Landing Craft Infantry Small) (DSC), 10/1944 H.M.S. Lothian, Landing Ship Infantry H.Q. 4/1945 H.M.S. Mercury.

Also stated on loan to Royal Australian Navy 1/1/1953-23/7/1955

Re. Mention in Despatches for the withdrawal of Allied forces from Dunkirk,  H.M.S. Keith

Hughes served aboard Keith from April 1940. On 13 May Keith returned to Hook of Holland to embark allied troops for evacuation. On the 19th she rescued survivors from HM Destroyer Whitley beached at Nieuport after air attack and subsequently destroyed wreck by gunfireOn 21 May, Keith was one of three destroyers that evacuated 468 civilians from France. Two days later the ship was in Boulogne-sur-Mer, loading British troops to be evacuated, when she was attacked by German troops. She came under intense artillery, mortar and small arms fire . Her captain (David Simson) was killed by a sniper and several others killed and many others wounded. 

On the night of 30/31 May, now captained by Edward Lyon Berthon, the ship joined Operation Dynamo when she helped to evacuate 992 Allied troops to Dover. She returned later that morning to De Panne and became flagship of Rear-Admiral Frederic Wake-Walker, commander of the evacuation. The ship was attacked by Stuka aircraft later that morning; the first attack damaged her steering gear and, in a later attack, a bomb which went down the aft funnel exploded in the No. 2 boiler room, killing everyone inside and starting a fire. With no power available, she anchored and abandon ship was ordered. Keith sank from her damage at 0945  Three officers and 33 enlisted men were killed during the attacks, but eight officers and 123 crewmen were saved.   Wake-Walker transferred to MTB102 but tragically most  of the survivors were picked up by the rescue tug St. Abbs which came alongside the stricken Keith but was in turn  bombed and sunk by aerial bombing with the loss of 100 of the tugs crew and crew of the Keith. The remaining survivors were in turn collected by the tug Sun XV.

H.M.S. Cossack, 1941

On 22 October 1941 Cossack sailed from Gibraltar as part of  convoy HG75. On the 23rd the convoy came under attacks by submarines of Breslau Group during which ship was hit by torpedo from U563 (commanded by Klaus Bargsten, later sole survivor of U-521 when sunk in 1943)  whilst stationed astern of convoy. The structure forward of bridge was  demolished killing the Captain and 158 of ship’s company. Survivors abandoned the ship which remained afloat.  These numbered 60 of whom 29 were wounded. Later ship survivors returned and carried out extensive damage control to enable stern way until HM Tug Thames arrived to take ship in tow to Gibraltar with escort by HM Corvette Jonquil. on the 27th the weather worsened and personnel taken on board HMS Jonquil before ship sank at 10.43.

June 1944, D.S.C. and 'Sword' Beach

Lieut. Commander Hughes, Staff of Naval Officer in Charge Sword (Force S) and L.C.I. (S) 518 , (Landing Craft Infantry  Small 518). As confirmed by Seedies & Naval History.

The recommendation states (sadly a little shortly) by Captain W.R.C. Leggatt, Beach Commander, Sword Beach.

'For unfailing steadiness and habitual cheerfulness and organising ability both during the planning stages of Operation Neptune and in the presence of the enemy during the later assault phase. Much is attributable directly to the first class staff work performed by this officer.'

Added remarks by Naval Commander, Force 'S'

'I fully concur, Lt. Cmdr Hughes carried out sterling work under fire.'

Seedies confirms the award as for L.C.I. (S) 518.  designed to carry  96 infantry and  as part of flotilla 201 tasked with landing  Commandos of Lord Lovats 6th Commando and men of 45 Cdo. 518 is recorded as coming under heavy fire as it beached. The ramp team were immediately killed by a shell and mortar fire killed and wounded other crew and commandos. I would assume that Hughes was tasked as with the Beachmaster  as a signals specialist however Admiralty state his award for service with the craft. I have been unable to find specifics at this time.

Seedies Roll for those who have sometimes asked was compiled from the 50,000 or so hand written Admiralty cards often containing detail otherwise lost to history.

A superb group covering perhaps the two epic events of WW2.



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