What was described by Dorchester auction house Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) as an ‘exceedingly rare’ Russian Order of St Anne Medal of Distinction for Foreigners in gold reflects this often arduous duty. It was offered together on November 6 with the 1914-15 Star awarded to Hull-born Alfred Dixon of the Royal Naval Reserve, selling for £6500 via thesaleroom.com against an estimate of £5000-6000.
The 1911 pattern medal, in enamel and hallmarked ‘56’ gold, was made in by Varvara Dietwald of Edouard, St Petersburg, and was engraved Imperial Russian Order of St Anne, conferred by the Czar on the most honored A. W. Dixon Skpr R.N.R 1915.
On May 18, 1915, Dixon joined the RNR as a skipper. He commanded the Hull-based trawler St Cyr. In spring 1915, the Germans sent the minelayer Meteor to undertake a mine-laying operation in the White Sea. The aim was to stop incoming supplies to the Russian Army and exports to the allies.
The Royal Navy responded by sending eight minesweeping trawlers to remove them and St Cyr was among them. Duke’s says: “It is highly likely that he was awarded this for operations in the White Sea. Sadly his service papers are very faint in some areas.”
In fact, outside Dixon’s White Sea service his exploits appear rather more patchy. His service papers also show he was arrested in July 1916 for improperly leaving his ship unanchored. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was deprived of 20 days’ pay.
As for his Star pair and his Mercantile Marine Medal, “the family believe the recipient lost them while out on the town”, added Duke’s.
On May 5, 1922, Dixon shared naval prize money with a Russian ship’s captain, which may relate to his time in the White Sea.
Duke’s auction was held in association with the Tank Museum, also in Dorset.