The uniform worn by Captain McCarthy of HMS Ajax consists of gilt bullion epaulettes, regulation bicorn cocked hat, two dress belts and a single cloth lace rank shoulder board in a Gieves tin case.
The Second World War Royal Navy dress uniform gilt bullion epaulettes, regulation bicorn cocked hat, two dress belts and a single cloth lace rank shoulder board worn by Captain Edward Desmond Bewley McCarthy during his command of H.M.S Ajax from 22nd April 1940 – 27th November 1941.
Retailed by Gieves, in an original fitted tin case named to McCarthy.
Sold with related research paperwork and original newspaper clippings about McCarthy's service. Estimate: £400 / £600
Admiral Sir Edward Desmond Bewley McCarthy, KCB, DSO & Bar (15 November 1893 – 8 June 1966).
Service includes command of HMS Ajax from 1940 and HMS Anson from 1943, before becoming Assistant Chief of Naval Staff in 1944.
Post-war, he became Commander-in-Chief of the South Atlantic Station before retiring in 1950. During his command of HMS Ajax, the vessel was involved in a single-handed engagement dubbed the Battle of Cape Passero, which centred around a British merchant convoy operation that left Alexandria for a supply operation to Malta on 8th October 1940.
Although the outward journey was completed without serious incident, the Mediterranean Fleet was spotted by an Italian aircraft on the return journey and the Italian Navy made moves to intercept them in the Ionian Sea.
On the night of 11th/12th October, the first Italian torpedo boat flotilla attacked H.M.S. Ajax. This attack failed and the Ajax successfully sank two of the Italian ships, the Airone and Ariel, with a third escaping.
Shortly following this battle, the Italian 11th destroyer flotilla arrived on the scene but was surprised by radar-directed gunfire from HMS Ajax. One Italian vessel was badly damaged and later sunk, and another was lightly damaged. Captain McCarthy received a DSO for his actions in this engagement.
This, despite his detailed service records alluding to him having to contend with a “weak and neurasthenic executive officer who demoralised the ship’s company” on board his ship during the timeframe of the battle.
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