The medal group and memorabilia of Percival O’Kell – £3600 at Duke’s.

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Two convoys, protected by the cruisers Belfast, Norfolk and Sheffield were used as bait to draw in Scharnhorst and drive her towards a second RN force lying in wait. On Boxing Day, the destroyer HMS Scorpion working in conjunction with Norwegian ship Strod fired 16 torpedoes at the German battleship, hitting her at least once. The battleship HMS Duke of York finished her off in what became known as the Battle of North Cape.

Serving on Scorpion was Torpedo Gunner Petty Officer Percival O’Kell whose Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) medal group was consigned by family to Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) of Dorchester on February 14. Included in the lot was a stack of naval messages that together detail the run-up to the battle, the firing of torpedoes and the rescuing of survivors from the Scharnhorst.

O’Kell’s small pocket-sized diary was also included with the group. On the last pages he writes of his experiences during the battle: “At 1849, Range 100 Torpedo 8 in No One fired. We had the joy of seeing one hit.” It sold to a private collector in the room against an online bidder for £3600 (estimate £1200-1500).

Duke of York flag


HMS Duke of York flag – £3600 at Charles Miller.

In November last year Charles Miller (24% buyer’s premium) sold a Union flag flown by HMS Duke of York during the Scharnhorst action for £3600. Formerly in the Ferrers-Walker collection, it had also been on loan to the Royal Navy Museum.