Second World War North Sea off Ostend night of 7th to 8th April 1945 E-Boat action 'immediate' Distinguished Service Medal recipient’s Director Navy Accounts Second World War Campaign Medal box of issue and Award Slip, as issued to Leading Telegraphist S.D. Simmonds, Royal Navy, who was decorated aboard the Coastal Forces Control Frigate H.M.S. Rutherford in the classic action which led to the destruction of two enemy E-Boats, and the awarding of 18 decorations, all in six minutes!
Director Navy Accounts Second World War Campaign Medal box of issue addressed to: ‘Mr. J.D. Simmonds, 52 Chestnut Rd. Peverell. Plymouth, Devon.’ This together with the Admiralty Campaign Medal Award Slip, confirming entitlement to ‘4’ awards.
Condition: box now flattened, and evidence of use, Fair Condition.
Provenance: the recipient’s medals, comprising the Distinguished Service Medal, 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star with France and Germany Clasp and the War Medal were sold at auction by Bosley’s in November 2013, and have since been twice sold by the London Medal Company. On none of the occasions has the box of issue or award slip been present, this having now appeared from a separate source.
Sidney Douglas Simmonds served during the Second World War as a Leading Telegraphist (Devonport No.JX.179549), and was awarded an 'immediate' Distinguished Service Medal for his gallant and distinguished services when serving aboard the Harwich based frigate H.M.S. Rutherford in 1945.
Rutherford was originally built in Hingham, Massachusetts, on launched on 23rd October 1943, having been originally intended as a destroyer escort DE-93 for the United States Navy, she was transferred to the Royal Navy on completion on 16th December 1943, and renamed H.M.S. Rutherford, after the naval captain William Gordon Rutherford, who commanded H.M.S. Swiftsure at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. H.M.S. Rutherford underwent acceptance trials in Casco Bay, Maine and upon finishing them in January 1944, proceeded to Bermuda for shakedown and crew training afloat and ashore. Completing shakedown and training in March 1944, she departed Bermuda bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, suffering damage during the voyage when she struck submerged wreckage, she then underwent repairs at Halifax and, upon completing them, proceeded to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where on 26th March 1944 she entered a shipyard for modifications to meet Royal Navy requirements.
After her modifications were completed in May 1944, Rutherford was assigned to serve in the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, based at Harwich, on escort duty and as a Coastal Forces Control Frigate or C.F.C.F. In the latter role operating with Royal Navy Coastal Forces officers embarked and responsible for controlling and providing radar support to groups of British motor torpedo boats intercepting German motor torpedo boats in the North Sea before the German boats could attack Allied convoys. In June 1944 she arrived in Harwich to assume her duties with her sister ships H.M.S. Crosby (K.559) and H.M.S. Cubitt (K.512). For the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 6th June 1944, although not involved in the assault phase of the landings, Rutherford was assigned later in June to escort convoys from the Thames Estuary bringing reinforcements to the beachheads, and she carried out these duties until August 1944.
In September 1944, Rutherford returned to her convoy defence and CFCF duties at Harwich, operating in the Thames Estuary and North Sea through to November 1944. In December 1944 she shifted the focus of her activities to waters off the coasts of Belgium and the Netherlands engaging German motor torpedo boats reported by Allied aircraft and hitting several of them with gunfire. From January to March 1945 she operated on convoy defence and CFCF duties off the Scheldt Estuary.
In April 1945 Rutherford deployed off the Belgium and Dutch coasts with H.M.S. Cubitt to continue her convoy defence and CFCF duties. On 7th April 1945 she took part in an engagement against German S-boat - known the Allies as E-boat - motor torpedo boats in which two S-boat were badly damaged, also rescuing the crews of the British motor torpedo boats H.M.S. MTB-494 and H.M.S. MTB-5001 after they were fatally damaged by S-boats during a close range battle.
On 9th April 1945 she intercepted a group of S-boats sighted off Ostend, Belgium, by Allied aircraft and sank two of them in a short action. The report of the Coastal Force Officer for this action is as follows: The Royal Navy vessel's involved were Patrol No.12 consisting of F.L.I - which was Rutherford, F.L.2 which consisted of M.T.B.'s 482 and 454, and F.L.3 consisting of M.T.B.'s 453 and 459. 'The night of the 7th occurred with a wind force 4, a choppy sea with fairly long swell, the visibility very good, and no moon. At 2300 I considered that the weather was only just suitable for own M.T.B.'s and deteriorating but decided to retain them on favourable weather report being received and E-Boat activity being reported. E-Boat's were reported by Castile 67 at 2300 and subsequently shadowed across by Castille 56 and 57. Excellent reporting by both enabled good plot to be developed.
At midnight it appeared that E-Boats could be expected at about 0030 and reception committee was prepared. A force consisting of five E-Boats was detected at 0029 in position 312 degrees Ostend 22.5 miles, range 6.5 miles, steering south west at 40 knots. Course was altered towards and F.L.3 vectored to intercept E-Boats altered course at 0033 to south east. F.L.3 was stopped and F.L.2 vectored North. Rutherford altered course to East maintaining speed at 15 knots with the two fold object of getting into position, to illuminate and enable M.T.B.'s to close sufficiently to carry out a combined attack with us on either side of E-Boats.
At 0037 Rutherford commenced illuminating and opened fire at 0037 and 30 seconds when 5 E-Boats were clearly seen. Gunfire was very accurate the Enemy being straddled immediately and turned away to Eastward as I intended them straight into the jaws of our M.T.B.'s. 3 inch fire was stopped at 0039 when our boats opened a heavy and accurate fire on the Enemy. A direct hit was observed at 0038 and 30 seconds and one E-Boat started dropping back, subsequently this blew up with a wonderful bang at 0040. Rocket illumination was continued to the North of the enemy for the benefit of our M.T.B.'s. Taking full advantage of this and firing magnificently another E-Boat was hit at 0040 dropping back immediately and subsequently being sunk by M.T.B.482.
At 0041 E-Boats turned North and retired at 45 knots with the chase being stopped at 0043 when it was obvious that they did not appreciate our company any longer. Dwelling a pause to see they were not coming back, 34 survivors and later another 6 were picked up, all being transferred to Rutherford. Surgical attention was given to seriously wounded and 4 slightly wounded casualties by Surgeon Lieutenant Matthews, R.N.V.R. embarked from H.M.S. Beehive for this patrol. The conclusion was that the enemy did not expect Coastal Forces out in the prevailing weather, they made very little effort initially to avoid Rutherford which may indicate defective Ground Search Radar. The tactic of engaging the Enemy on opposite bow to own M.T.B.'s seemed to work very well indeed and gave both units a chance to develop a highly concentrated rate of fire at the most crucial moment. The E-Boats were definitely surprised by F.L.2 who's shooting under appalling weather conditions was really a treat to watch and resulted in the most satisfactory conclusion to this action.'
It was this action on the 7th to 8th April 1945 that Leading Telegraphist Simmonds distinguished himself, being awarded the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Medal. The recommendation reads as follows: 'Leading Telegraphist Simmonds is the senior W/T rating on board and during the E-Boat action on the night of the 7th to 8th April was responsible for the re-broadcasting of aircraft reports, transmission of enemy reports and general conduct of W/T and R/T signalling. Both prior to and during the engagement this rating's conduct and efficiency were outstanding. By his rapid handling of signals it was possible to obtain a first class plot of the enemy and appreciate the situation. During the action he remained remarkably cool, showing an example to his department and all around him. Leading Telegraphist Simmonds has repeatedly shown outstanding efficiency and the W/T organisation on board is exceedingly well done. He works very hard indeed quite cheerfully and gets the best results from his junior ratings.'
The recommendation was made by Lieutenant B. Pengally, the Commanding Officer of H.M.S. Rutherford on 12th April 1945, with the award being published in the London Gazette for 19th June 1945, Simmond's being one of two men from Rutherford to gain the Distinguished Service Medal during the war, with both awards being for this action on 7th to 8th April, with the other award going to Able Seaman G. Lawson, both awards being posted to the recipient's. In addition for this action - the commanding officer who since the action had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander B. Pengally, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and another officer, the Coastal Force Officer aboard Rutherford, a Lieutenant D. Fitzroy-Williams who wrote the above published report, was awarded the Second Award Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross, with four men - one officer and three ratings, being Mentioned in Despatches, they being: Temporary Sub Lieutenant T.G. Fitch, Chief Stoker A. Haines, Leading Sick Berth Attendant R.A. Davies, and Able Seaman C. O'Driscoll, with all awards were published in the London Gazette for 19th June 1945. As can be seen, 8 awards were gained by men aboard H.M.S. Rutherford for this action, the complement of this ship was 186 crew.
In addition from the M.T.B.'s present - in F.L.2 - on M.T.B.482 - one Distinguished Service Medal to Able Seaman J. Gillespie, and four Mentioned in Despatches' to Temporary sub Lieutenant R.J.W. Timms, Petty Officer R.W. Samson, Able Seaman F.D. Jessop, and Able Seaman F. Brown were awarded; on M.T.B.454 the Third Award Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross was gained by Temporary Lieutenant Commander John D. Dixon, one further Distinguished Service Cross to Temporary Lieutenant P.G.A. Irvine, a Distinguished Service Medal to Able Seaman A.R.R. Banger, and a Mentioned in Despatches to Able Seaman C.A. Bramall. In F.L.3 - on M.T.B.453 one Mentioned in Despatches to Petty Officer A.A. Hartland, and no awards for the crew on M.T.B.459. In all the tally was 1 x Third Award Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross; 1 x Second Award Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross; 2 x Distinguished Service Cross; 4 x Distinguished Service Medal; and and 10 x Mentioned in Despatches, no bad for an action which lasted from 0037 to 0043, six minutes in all!
After the surrender of Germany in early May 1945, Rutherford was selected for conversion to a fighter direction ship for service with the British Pacific Fleet, and she proceeded to a commercial shipyard in the United Kingdom that month to undergo a refit for her new role. Her refit was not yet complete when the armistice with Japan of 15th August 1942 brought the Second World War to a close, and further work on her conversion was suspended. Rutherford was returned to the United States Navy on 25th October 1945, but was then struck from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register on 19th December 1945, being sold for scrapping in May 1946.