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A fine Second World War ‘Sinking of the Scharnhorst’ D.S.C. and 1940 M.I.D. group of eight awarded to Lieutenant W. M. Livingston, Royal Navy, who, as Acting Engineer Officer aboard H.M.S. Savage, ‘enabled a successful torpedo attach to be carried out on the Scharnhorst’
Distinguished Service Cross, G.VI.R., reverse hallmarked London 1943, officially dated 1944 and additionally inscribed ‘Lieut. (E) W. Mc. C. Livingston

British War and Victory Medals officially named to: M.3840 W. M. Livingston. E.R.A.4 R.N.

Naval General Service 1915-62, 1 clasp, Palestine 1936-1939 officially named to: W. Mc. C. Livingston. Warrant Engr. R.N.

1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star, clasp, France and Germany; Africa Star; War Medal 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf.

Mounted as worn, very fine and better.

D.S.C. London Gazette 7 March 1944: ‘For gallantry, distinguished service and devotion to duty on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, and in H.M. Ships... Jamaica... during the action in which the Scharnhorst was engaged and sunk.’
The original recommendation states: ‘As [Acting] Engineer Officer of the ship displayed coolness and determination during a prolonged period at full power which finally enabled a successful torpedo attack to be carried out on the Scharnhorst.’
M.I.D. London Gazette 4 October 1940: ‘For gallantry and determination in repelling enemy air attacks.’
The destruction of the Scharnhorst on 26 December 1943, was an important development for the Allies as the Home Fleet was then able to relax its vigilance in northern waters without threat to Arctic Convoys from German capital ships. Of Scharnhorst’s compliment totalling 1,970 officers and men, only 36 were rescued by the Royal Navy. Admiral Fraser, in H.M.S. Duke of York, made contact with the Scharnhorst at 4.15 p.m., by which time darkness had closed in. Shortly afterwards the 14-inch guns of the Duke of York obtained a hit below the water-line and the Scharnhorst turned away to the northward and then eastward with a slight diminution in speed.
While Duke of York and Jamaica took up the chase, the destroyers Savage, Saumarez, Scorpion and Stord crept up on the Scharnhorst’s quarters to make a torpedo attack. Sheffield was now joining in the hunt at 23 knots; Musketeer, Matchless, Opportune and Virago were also working round for a strike with their torpedoes. Duke of York scored hits with her first and third salvoes but Scharnhorst was still giving a good account of herself. Time and again, her shells straddled Duke of York. However, despite the damage caused by Duke of York’s guns, Scharnhorst seemed to be increasing her speed and the range was being stretched. At 17.30, none of the cruisers were still firing; at 18.20, Scharnhorst herself ceased fire, and Duke of York stopped at 18.24. The range was now 21,400 yards.
‘It still seemed possible to Fraser that Scharnhorst might escape. Everything depended on those four ‘S’ class destroyers - Savage, Saumarez, Scorpion and Stord. Their captains had been ordered to attack with their torpedoes at 17.13, but in these turbulent seas nothing was easy. It was amazing that they were able to maintain sufficient speed to steam close enough. But, somehow, they were going about their business, and it seemed likely to be effective. Watching the radar screen, Fraser saw them coming abreast of the battlecruiser, waiting for Scharnhorst to make a suitable alteration of course that would unwittingly assist their cause. The tactics appeared to be working. By 18.20 the small ships had closed to 12,000 yards and the distance was still shrinking. Ten minutes later, it had been reduced to 10,000 yards, and the tough little warships were under fire from the giant’s main armament. At 18.50, more star shells once again brought the blaze of noon to this dark and terrible place; the range was 7,000 yards - Savage, Saumarez, Scorpion and Stordwere ready to make their attack. Savage and Saumarez were in position off Scharnhorst’s starboard bow, Scorpion and Stord off her port. It was now virtually impossible to see them for the huge columns of water that erupted wherever Scharnhorst’s shells smacked into the sea. This, surely, was a maritime version of hell and nothing could survive such punishment. But three out of this intrepid foursome came through unscathed. Only Saumarez was hit; one officer and ten ratings were killed, and eleven ratings wounded. Her speed was reduced to 10 knots, as she limped away using only her port engine.
With so much smoke now enshrouding the scene, it was difficult to tell whether the destroyers had been successful. However, the hydrophone operators in Duke of York reported three loud underwater explosions. In fact, five of the torpedoes found their marks. But enough was enough; the destroyers withdrew. Scharnhorst seemed to recover from whatever impact there had been, and steadied her course at 20 knots. Now the action was back with Duke of York andJamaica; while somewhere in the darkness of the ocean, four more destroyers were biding their time, waiting for fate to give Scharnhorst a shove in their direction. It was now 19.01 hours; the range between Duke of York and Scharnhorstwas 10,400 yards and closing to 8,000.’
Duke of York opened fire with her 14-inch guns and, at 19.15, Belfast and Norfolk added their voices to the chorus of doom, until Scharnhorst lay with her engines stopped and smoke and flames issuing from her decks. At this juncture the cruisers Jamaica and Belfast were ordered to attack with torpedoes from one side and the destroyers Matchless, Virago, Opportune and Musketeer from the other. This concentrated volley exploded with tremendous force and at 19.45 the Scharnhorst sank at a spot about 60 miles N.E. of North Cape.
William McCullough Livingston was from County Down, Ireland, and served as an Engine Room Artificer 4th Class during the First World War. He was appointed Warrant Engineer in April 1927, and promoted to Commissioned Engineer in April 1937 and Lieutenant (E) in December 1944. He qualified for the N.G.S. ‘Palestine 1936-1939’ as Warrant Engineer in H.M.S. Sussex, and won his M.I.D. as Commissioned Engineer in H.M.S. Brilliant for an action on 25 July 1940. Lieutenant Livingston was placed on the Retired List on 5 June 1946, and died on 22 April 1977.

Product Code: EM2680

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