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Lot 21


as First Lieutenant on H.M.S. Marlborough, he rescued members of the Russian Royal Family and was A.D.C. to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000
Hammer price: £4,800
Bidding ended. Lot has been sold.

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, K.B.E. (Military) Knight Commander's 2nd type set of insignia, comprising neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Star, silver, silver-gilt, and enamel

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion's, neck badge, a silver-gilt example with enamel, complete with full ribbon

1914/15 Star, correctly impressed Lieut. A. F. Pridham. R.N.

British War Medal, correctly impressed, Lt. Commr. A.F. Pridham. R.N.

 Victory Medal, correctly impressed, Lt. Commr. A.F. Pridham. R.N.

1939/45 Star

Defence Medal

War Medal

1935 Jubilee Medal

1937 Coronation Medal

Russia, Order of St. Stanislaus, 2nd Class neck badge with swords, by Eduard, St. Petersburg, 46 x 46mm., gold and enamel, with manufacturer's name on reverse, with some enamel loss to the laurel leaves in the wreaths on obverse

American Legion of Merit in case of issue, the reverse of the award is officially engraved 'Arthur Pridham', 

Condition V.F. and better

Sold with the original citation for the American Legion of Merit, hand-signed by President Harry Truman; certificate for Legion of Merit, K.B.E. and C.B. Original Dogtag; a badge from his time as A.D.C. to King George 5th; Admiral Shoulder boards; silver guilt and gold bullion; admiral buttons; with three ribbon bars. 


Admiral Pridham was born in 1886 and joined H.M.S. Britannia - the Royal Navy's Officer training college on the banks of the river Dart at Dartmouth in 1901. H.M.S. Britannia was then 'a wooden wall' hulk. In 1910, he qualified as a Gunnery Officer. 

At the start of the First World War, he was gunnery officer of the light cruiser H.M.S. Weymouth and took part in the destruction of the German cruiser SMS Koninsberg, which was hiding in the Rufiji River in what is now Tanzania. The 1976 film 'Shout at the Devil' is a fictional account of this incident.

In May 1916, he travelled to Rosyth to join the cruiser H.M.S. Defence, but she had sailed unexpectedly early for the Battle of Jutland, where she was lost with all hands. A lucky escape!

In 1917, he joined the battleship H.M.S. Marlborough as First Lieutenant and Gunnery Officer. The ship was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in 1918. Pridham was responsible for the disarming of the battleships SMS Konig and Kaiser

In 1919 H.M.S. Marlborough was sent to Yalta Crimea to rescue Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and surviving members of the Russian Royal family. The ship arrived off Yalta on 7th April 1919, and whilst the Captain was ashore presenting a letter from Queen Alexandra (Edward VII's widow) to the Empress, Pridham was ordered to make arrangements for the embarkation and accommodation of the royal party. 

The first job was to build an improvised pier so as to avoid embarking passengers and their luggage over the beach. All the officers, including the Captain, were 'evicted' from their cabins; the Captain was able to use his sea cabin, but all the others had to bed down where possible! As most of the cabins now accommodated twice their normal number, the provision of bedding became an issue, especially when it became apparent that the ship would have to embark more people than expected and many ladies.

Even today, warships are not designed to carry passengers! In the event, some 84 men and women, including the Empress, were accommodated, including the Tsar's sister Xenia, 12 relations of the Tsar, including Prince Youssoupoff, who had been involved in the assassination of Rasputin, 11 royal children, plus 59 assorted courtiers and servants. Pridham comments in his book 'how concerned the Royal family was for their servants.' 

Over the next couple of days, some 200 tons of luggage was loaded. In order that he could carry out his duties conscientiously, Pridham spent much time with the Royal Family and effectively became an honorary A.D.C. to the Empress. As a result, he got to know members well, especially Grand Duchess Xenia, who remained a friend all her life. Before the passengers disembarked in Malta 2 weeks later, Pridham was not only awarded 'Order of St Stanislas' by the Empress. But he was given some very special gifts by her. After disembarkation, H.M.S. Marlborough returned to the Black Sea to support the White Russian army during the Civil War. 

A year later, she returned to Malta with General Denikin, the White leader, onboard.

Later in life, he wrote the book 'Close of a Dynasty' about the rescue and events surrounding the Revolution and subsequent Civil War.

In 1926, he was promoted to Captain, and after various staff appointments and commands, including H.M.S. Excellent - the Gunnery School - he was given the very prestigious command of the battlecruiser H.M.S. Hood in 1936, the Navy's pride and joy. Whilst on the Hood he wrote a paper entitled 'Notes to Young Officers', which was required reading for his officers. This was subsequently included in the training of Reserve officers in WW2. It is worth noting that much of what he wrote is still pertinent in today's Navy.

Whilst he was a man of his time and somewhat of a martinet, he was also far-seeing: for instance, he encouraged the mixing of engine room crews and seamen, which was rare in those days. During his time in command, H.M.S. Hood was involved in the rescue of British citizens from the Spanish Civil War. He was renowned for mooring the Hood to head and stern buoys in Grand Harbour Valletta without the use of tugs.

He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1939. After a short spell as Flag Officer Humber, he was appointed to the Ordnance Board (responsible for independent advice on the development and design of ammunition and weapons for all 3 Services). He was subsequently promoted to Vice Admiral and, in 1942, became President of the Board. As a result, he worked closely with Lord Cherwell (Chief Scientific Advisor) and Winston Churchill. He had very good relations with his United States Armed Forces colleagues, which resulted in United States representatives joining the Board and British representatives on the U.S. equivalent. 

The story goes that when the Navy wanted to send him to Washington and relieve him with an army officer, Churchill said, 'Buggins turn, Pridham stays.' So he stayed in London!

As a result of his war service, he was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit (Commander) and Knighted(K.B.E.) The Citation for the Legion of Merit says inter alia, ' Admiral Pridham's action contributed towards establishing the supremacy of Allied weapons and munitions.'

He died in 1975; his ashes, together with those of his wife, were committed to the deep from H.M.S. Jupiter off Portland by his grandson and grandson-in-law, both serving naval officers.

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