WWII GROUP OF 3 MEDALS & ARCHIVE OF EPHEMERA TO A.B. G.L. DAVIES, H.M.S. EXETER (K.I.A. BATTLE OF RIVER PLATE 1939)

*** SOLD *** The most complete archive of an Able Seaman killed aboard H.M.S. Exeter in the engagement with the Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of River Plate in 1939. Includes 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; WWII War Medal, accompanied by a wealth of original ephemera such as Bosun's whistle stamped to 'S. Davis', WWII Dog Tag named to Seaman G.L. Davies, Buckingham Palace Condolence Slip to Mrs. M. Davies, Admiralty Condolence Medal Slip to Gilbert Lewis Davies, Certificate of Service Parchment, original letters of condolence, postcards, photographs, personalised items and Davies' rare H.M.S. Exeter memorabilia including a framed and intricately coloured H.M.S. Exeter Proclamation dated 1938.
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Description

Gilbert Lewis Davies was born in Leominster, Herefordshire on 6 Feb 1918 and lived at Downs Villa Farm, Kimbolton, Leominster, working as a farm labourer. Enrolling with the Royal Navy on 15 Sep 1937, Davies served with H.M.S. Drake until 20 Apr 1938, when he joined the crew of H.M.S. Exeter and served in the America and West Indies Station and promoted to the rank of Able Seaman on 15 Jan 1939.

On the outbreak of WWII, Exeter formed part of the South American Division with the heavy cruiser, Cumberland. Captained by Frederick Bell, Exeter and Achilles rendezvoused with Ajax near River Plate. The German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee spotted Exeter on the morning of 13 Dec 1939. The Ajax and Achilles grouped together to deflect the Graf Spee's fire. Regardless, Captain Hans Langsdorff concentrated the Graf Spee's fire on Exeter, with a first barrage of shells at 06:18. Her third salvo killed the crew of the starboard torpedo tubes, started fires amidships and disabled Exeter's Supermarine Walrus seaplanes. After eight return salvos from Exeter, Graf Spee succeeded in knocking Exeter's 'B' turret out of action and shrapnel from killed all of the bridge personnel, bar three. Captain Bell, wounded in the face, transferred to the aft conning position to continue the battle. His ship was hit twice more shortly afterwards.

Turning his attention to the light cruisers, Langsdorrf was forced to turn away by the lauching of Exeter's torpedoes. He then closed in on Exeter scoring deadly hits amidships, knocking out 'A' turret, starting fires that damaged the navigation circuits and causing a list with flooding. At this point, Bell was reported to have said: 'I'm going to ram the bastard. It will be the end of us, but will sink him too.' He had informed Commodore Harwood that she only had a four and eight inch gun in action, and was ordered to disengage and head for the Falklands for repair. In total, she had been hit by a total of seven 283 mm shells that killed 61 of her crew, including Gilbert Davies. The Graf Spee had suffered three significant strikes with her oil-purification equipment being disabled. Without it, the ship could not return to Germany and was irreparable. Faced with the prospect of Royal Navy reinforcements, the Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by her captain in the harbour of Montevideo.

Gilbert Lewis Davies is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and Kimbolton Parish Church.

View a video of Davies' H.M.S. Exeter memorabilia.