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An Unusual Pre-Great War S.G.M. Group of Three to Major W.C. Downing, Royal Artillery, Who Commanded the 'Colonial Government Rocket Life Saving Apparatus' at the Wreck of the "Delhi" in December 1911, Sea Gallantry Medal, G.V.R., silver (Lieut. William C. Downing, R.G.A., "Delhi", 13th Nov. 1911); British War and Victory Medals (Major), good very fine, mounted as worn (4)

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An Unusual Pre-Great War S.G.M. Group of Three to Major W.C. Downing, Royal Artillery, Who Commanded the 'Colonial Government Rocket Life Saving Apparatus' at the Wreck of the "Delhi" in December 1911, Sea Gallantry Medal, G.V.R., silver (Lieut. William C. Downing, R.G.A., "Delhi", 13th Nov. 1911); British War and Victory Medals (Major), good very fine, mounted as worn (4)
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

S.G.M. 'The Liner Delhi, with 85 First Class passengers, among whom were the Duke and Duchess of Fife (The Princess Royal) and their two daughters, was bound from London to Bombay via Marseilles. At about 2 o'clock on the morning of 11 December 1911, the ship ran shore in very rough weather some two miles from Cape Spartel. There was a strong westerly wind and very heavy rain. A wireless call was immediately sent out and was picked up by the station at Cadiz and within a short period of time several Men-of-War were speeding to the wreck. The first to arrive was the French Cruiser Frant, 3722 tons, which at once sent away her boats in an effort to take off the shipwrecked people. Unfortunately her Steam Launch was swamped and with the fire out became unmanageable and capsized, three Seamen being drowned.

The next ships to arrive were the British Battleship London and the Cruiser Duke of Edinburgh. At about 11 a.m., Rear-Admiral Cradock brought a boat from the Duke of Edinburgh alongside and with great difficulty took off the Royal Party from the Delhi. On her way back the boat was swamped not far from the shore and everyone thrown into the water, the Princess Alexandra having a narrow escape from drowning. Eventually, all came safely to land and in their somewhat exhausted state had to walk four miles to the Lighthouse at Cape Spartel.

The conduct of the Moorish authorities was not helpful. No assistance was given to the shipwrecked people and no mules or conveyances provided for the journey to Tangier, 10 miles away' (A Dictionary of Sea Disasters refers).

Major William Creagh Downing, S.G.M., went on to win recognition for gallant and distinguished services on land, being Mentioned in Despatches in the Great War (London Gazette 7.7.1919 refers). He first entered the French Theatre of War in early February 1918.
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