Navy hero’s war medals sell for £10,000 at auction

Medals awarded to Robert McClarnan.  Image courtesy of Jan Starnes � Dix Noonan Webb Ltd
Medals awarded to Robert McClarnan. Image courtesy of Jan Starnes � Dix Noonan Webb Ltd
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Medals of a naval war hero from Lancashire have sold at auction for almost £10,000.

Acting Petty Officer Robert McClarnan, of Walton-le-Dale, was one of the first naval heroes of the Second World War.

He was presented with a medal for gallantry by King George VI, and now a selection of his medals and documents have sold for double their estimated price.

McClarnan won the Distinguished Service Medal for gallantry during the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939, and was presented with a silver cigarette case when he was welcomed home the following year.

The medal was part of a group of five medals awarded to the South Ribble hero, together with documentation, which was expected to fetch £4,000 to £5,000.

However, the items eventually sold at auction at Dix Noonan Webb in London for £9,840.

McClarnan was an Able Seaman at the time of the battle off South America in December 1939, and he was in charge of the magazine on board the cruiser HMS Ajax.

The citation for his Distinguished Service Medal, presented at a special parade in London, said he “set a fine example of cheerful, hard and skilful work”.

HMS Ajax was one of three Royal Navy cruisers which tracked down the German ship Admiral Graf Spee, which had been sinking Allied shipping.

And the ship also took casualties from its badly-damaged sister ship HMS Exeter.

McClarnan served throughout the Second World War and picked up other medals along the way.

He received awards including the 1939-45 Star and the Atlantic Star before leaving the Royal Navy in 1946.