​ The superb Second World War Operation Ironclad May 1942 Madagascar Landings and Operation Torch November 1942 North Africa Landings Distinguished Service Cross and double Mention in Despatches group awarded to Engineer Lieutenant Commander E.J.R. Lees, Royal Naval Reserve, late Royal Navy and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who having briefly seen service at the very end of the Great War, went on to work as an Engineer Officer aboard Merchant Ships of the New Zealand Shipping Company, the British and African Steam Navigation Company, and the

Price: £2,250.00


Product ID: CMA/23440
Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine
Availability: IN STOCK
Description:

The superb Second World War Operation Ironclad May 1942 Madagascar Landings and Operation Torch November 1942 North Africa Landings Distinguished Service Cross and double Mention in Despatches group awarded to Engineer Lieutenant Commander E.J.R. Lees, Royal Naval Reserve, late Royal Navy and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who having briefly seen service at the very end of the Great War, went on to work as an Engineer Officer aboard Merchant Ships of the New Zealand Shipping Company, the British and African Steam Navigation Company, and the African Steam Ship Company during the 1920’s to 1930’s, before distinguishing himself aboard the Royal Naval Reserve Troop Transport H.M.S Royal Ulsterman conveying troops to the various allied landings. In addition to Operation’s Ironclad and Torch, he was also involved in Operation Husky, Avalanche, and Neptune, and the liberation of the Channel Islands.     

Group of 7: Distinguished Service Cross, GVI 1st type cypher, hallmarked, and reverse dated 1943, housed in its Gerrard & Co fitted presentation case; British War Medal 1914-1919; (M.32108 E.J.B. LEES. E.R.A.5. R.N.); 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-43 Clasp; Italy Star; War Medal with Mention in Despatches Oakleaf; second together with named card box of issue; last five with the Admiralty Campaign Medal Award Slip confirming entitlement to ‘8’ awards - indicating medals and emblems, and also the Director of Navy Accounts Card Box of issue, addressed to: ‘Mr. E.F.R. Lees, DSC, 6 Kingsway Drive, Knock, Belfast, N. Ireland’ - the side of the box is additionally inscribed: ‘Lt. Cdr. RNR.’

Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.

Together with a large quantity of original paperwork and ephemera:

Royal Navy Parchment Certificate of Service.

Royal Navy Protection and Identity Certificate, dated 21st March 1919.
David Rowan & Co Ltd Marine Engineers and Boilermakers of Glasgow, confirmation of having worked as an Apprentice Fitter from 6th April 1915 to 26th April 1920, dated 27th April 1920. His war service is included in the dates.
New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd letter of confirmation of employment aboard the steamship Armagh as a Junior Engineer from 4th March 1921 to 16th May 1922, dated 16th May 1922.

New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd letter of confirmation of employment as an 8th Engineer aboard the steamship “Wiltshire” from 6th July 1920 to 28th February 1921, as an 8th Engineer aboard the steamship “Armagh” from 1st March 1921 tov 20th July 1922, and as a 7th Engineer aboard the “Armagh” again fro, 21st July 1921 to 16th May 1922, dated 20th May 1922.
Marine Engineer’s Association Membership Booklet, issued to Lees, Membership No.44808, dated 21st September 1922.
Board of Trade Certificate of Efficiency as Lifeboatman, dated 22nd May 1924.

New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd letter of confirmation of employment aboard the steamship “Hororata” as a 4th Engineer from 12th November 1923 to 27th June 1925, dated 14th July 1925.
New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd letter of confirmation of employment aboard the steamship “Huntingdon” as a 5th Engineer from 22nd August 1922 to 8th November 1923, dated 23rd September 1925.
Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen Certificate of Competency as First Class Engineer of a Steamship, issued to Eric James Rutherford Lees, dated 7th October 1925, and additionally certified for having qualified on the Motor Class of vessel on 11th July 1927.

New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd letter of congratulations on Lees gaining his 1st Class Engineer’s Certificate, dated 17th November 1925.

Letter of recommendation from the Chief Engineer aboard the M.V. Adda - S. Kirkham, concerning Lees service aboard this diesel engined vessel from 25th November 1925 to 3rd January 1926, dated February 1926.

British and African Steam Navigation Co. Ltd letter of recommendation for his employment aboard the S.S Capell from 17th June 1926 to 10th July 1926, signed by the Chief Engineer and concerning Lees’ service as the 2nd Engineer aboard the vessel, dated 10th July 1926.
African Steam Ship Company letter of recommendation for his employment aboard the M.V. “Apapa” from 20th January 1926 to 16th June 1926, signed by the Chief Engineer and concerning Lees’ service as the 2nd Engineer aboard this vessel, dated 9th February 1927.

African Steam Ship Company letter of recommendation for his employment aboard the M.V. “Adda” from 1st September 1926 to 21st February 1927 as 4th Engineer, dated 21st February 1927.

African Steam Ship Company letter of recommendation for his employment aboard the M.V. “Adda” from 31st January 1927 to 10th May 1927 as Senior 4th Engineer, dated 8th July 1927.

African Steam Ship Company letter of recommendation for his employment aboard the M.V. “Adda” from 11th May 1927 to 21st June 1927 as Senior 4th Engineer, dated 21st June 1927.

Marine Engineers Association Articles of Association booklet.
Royal Navy Certificate of Employment aboard H.M.S Royal Ulsterman for the period 28th January 1942 to 1st October 1944, dated 1st October 1944.
Admiralty Investiture Card for Lees to attend an investiture at Buckingham Palace for his award of the Distinguished Service Cross on 20th July 1945.
Royal Navy Certificate of Employment aboard H.M.S Royal Ulsterman for the period 1st October 1944 to 20th December 1945, dated 20th December 1945.
Marine Engineer’s Association 30 Years Continuous Membership Booklet, issued to Lees, dated 21st September 1952.
Government of Kenya International Certificate of Vaccination or Revaccination against Yellow Fever, issued to Eric J.R. Lees, dated 10th May 1966.

United Kingdom Department of Health International Certificate of Vaccination or Revaccination against Smallpox, issued to Eric J.R. Lees, dated 7th August 1975.  

Ditty Box bearing the name: ‘E.J.R. Lees’ on the outside of the lid.
Eric James Rutherford Lees was born on 20th March 1898 in Clapham, London, and having worked as an apprentice fitter with the firm of David Rowan & Co Ltd Marine Engineers and Boilermakers of Glasgow from 6th April 1915, but whilst still an apprentice fitter and at the same time enrolled in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, with the ongoing Great War, he then joined the Royal Navy as an Engine Room Artificer 5th Class (No.M.32108) with Victory II on 20th June 1918. Posted to the battleship H.M.S Canada on 2nd December 1918, he then briefly saw service with the Grand Fleet. Lees was demobilised ashore on 18th April 1919, and is solely entitled to the British War Medal for his Great War service.
Lees then returned to his work as an apprentice fitter with David Rowan & Co Ltd Marine Engineers and Boilermakers of Glasgow, and remained with the firm till 26th April 1920. Lees then joined the Mercantile Marine with the New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd as a Junior Engineer, being employed as an 8th Engineer aboard the steamship “Wiltshire” from 6th July 1920 to 28th February 1921, as an 8th Engineer aboard the steamship “Armagh” from 1st March 1921 tov 20th July 1922, and as a 7th Engineer aboard the “Armagh” again fro, 21st July 1921 to 16th May 1922. Lees gained his Marine Engineer’s Association Membership on 21st September 1922.
Remaining with the New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd, he saw service as a 5th Engineer aboard the steamship “Huntingdon” from 22nd August 1922 to 8th November 1923, and then as a 4th Engineer aboard the steamship “Hororata” from 12th November 1923 to 27th June 1925. Lees gained his Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen Certificate of Competency as First Class Engineer of a Steamship on 7th October 1925, and would subsequently qualify for the same on the Motor Class of vessel on 11th July 1927.

Having transferred to the African Steam Ship Company as a 4th Engineer aboard the M.V. “Adda” from 25th November 1925 to 3rd January 1926, from 1st September 1926 to 21st February 1927, and he also saw a couple of voyages through aboard the “Adda” right through to July 1927. Around the same time he worked with the African Steam Ship Company aboard the M.V. “Apapa” from 20th January 1926 to 16th June 1926, and with the British and African Steam Navigation Co. Ltd aboard the S.S Capell from 17th June 1926 to 10th July 1926.  

A serving member of the Royal Naval Reserve, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Lees was serving as an Engineering Officer, and was then mobilised. Promoted to Temporary Engineer Lieutenant Commander on 30th June 1941, he was appointed to the Royal Naval Reserve Troop Transport H.M.S Royal Ulsterman which vessel having been converted from a 3250 ton passenger ship, then distinguished itself in taking part in nearly all of the major Allied amphibious operations of the European war, as well as seeing service in the Indian Ocean during the landings in Madagascar.
Lees is noted as having been aboard the Royal Ulsterman from 28th January 1942 continuously through to 20th December 1945. On his joining, the vessel was employed taking troops to the West African coast. However it was for his services aboard her during Operation Ironclad, the Allied landings against the Vichy French in Madagascar on 8th May 1942, when Royal Ulsterman landed troops at Diego Suarez, that Lees was awarded the first of his three decorations, on his being Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished services in the London Gazette for 25th August 1942.
During the landings the ship’s crew used ‘cobbles, lifeboats, and the ship’s motor launch to put troops ashore’. On the vessels return to Durban and Port Elizabeth, the crew ‘had a wonderful reception, official and otherwise’. The Royal Ulsterman went home in July 1942 for a refit, and then with the United States Rangers on board, sailed for the North African coast. Royal Ulsterman then took part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, landing United States Army Rangers of the 1st Battalion on the Algerian coast on 8th November 1942. On 14th November, while ferrying troops from Oran to Algiers, the ship was attacked, unsuccessfully, by five Luftwaffe aircraft. For his services during Operation Torch, Lees was awarded a second Mention in Despatches in the London Gazette for 4th May 1943 The recommendation made on 27th January 1943 reads ’in view of good services performed in ferrying troops since beginning of Operation Torch’. The Commodore commanding the Inshore Squadron additionally wrote: ‘425 officers and 8350 troops have been carried during the period under review.’
The Inshore Squadron was nicknamed the “Moonlight Squadron” because it always sailed at night and usually in bright moonlight. The vessel took troops to Bougie, Phillipville, Bone and so on. The commanding officer of the vessel later wrote of this period: ‘During nearly all our 21 trips we were attacked by aircraft and often by submarines. We helped repel countless air attacks, and on our fourteenth trip we shot down one aircraft.’
It was for his work during both the landings in Madagascar and the landings in North Africa which led to his award of the Distinguished Service Cross in the London Gazette for 30th November 1943, being invested with his decoration at Buckingham Palace on 20th July 1945.
Lees remained in command of the engine room of Royal Ulsterman for the remainder of the war and through till 20th December 1945, during which period he witnessed Operation Husky - the landings in Sicily; Operation Avalanche - the Salerno Landings; Operation Neptune - the D-Day Landings; and the liberation of the Channel Islands.


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