Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The Belcham family group included this honour issued to commemorate the sinking of the SMS Emden by HMAS Sydney in 1914. The German cruiser had been hunting along Indian Ocean shipping routes but was surprised by HMAS Sydney when attacking the British radio station on the Cocos Islands. Badly damaged, the Emden was deliberately run aground.

According to Museums Victoria: “The medals issued incorporated a portion of the Mexican silver dollars recovered from the Emden. They were presented to the captain of the Sydney, staff on the Cocos Islands, the Admiralty, the Australian War Memorial and other ‘approved’ Australian museums. The remainder were sold to the public as souvenirs and money accrued above production costs were to go to the Royal Australian Navy Relief Fund.”

The Emden medal was awarded to WR Belcham. The group as a whole sold to a UK commission bidder for £2700 (estimate £600-800). The lot was part of a large private collection that was started in the 1970s and had remained in that group ever since. The collection of 101 lots sold in Exeter for over £34,000.