Group of 9 including one of the earliest George Medals awarded for Mine Disposal in the Navy. AB Donald Thomas Emslie, R.M.S., HMS Vernon, Royal Navy
George Medal/ Naval General Service Medal (Palestine 1936-39 clasp)/ 1939-45 Star/ Atlantic Star/ Africa Star (North Africa 1942-43 clasp)/ Italy Star/ Defence Medal/ War Medal 1939-45/ Royal Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal
George Medal awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty. Mine Disposal UK Aug to Oct 1940.
During the Second World War, HMS Vernon became responsible for mine disposal and mine countermeasures. Her officers and scientific staff achieved several coups involving the capture of mines and the development of countermeasures. One of the earliest of these was the rendering safe and recovery of the first German magnetic mine (Type GA) at Shoeburyness on 24 November 1939. For this deed. Cdr. John Ouvry was decorated with the OSO by King George VI at a ceremony on HMS Vernon's parade ground on 19 December 1939. Others decorated at the same time for this, and other tasks where mines were rendered safe for recovery and examination, were Lt Cdr Roger Lewis (DSO), Lt J M Glenny (DSC), CPO C E Baldwin (DSM) and AB A L Vearncombe (DSM). Of particular note, these were the first Royal Navy decorations of the war.
In June 1940, the first attempt to render safe a ground mine by divers was made in Poole Harbour, Dorset. A diving unit from HMS Excellent, supported by divers trained in Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) techniques from HMS Vernon, successfully removed the fuze from a Type GC mine underwater although the mine exploded as it was towed inshore. For his central role in this task, Able Seaman Diver R G Tawn was subsequently awarded the DSM. On discovering the skill of HMS Vernon's mine technicians, the Germans placed booby traps in some mines. One was fitted with a small explosive charge that detonated when the mine was stripped in the mining shed at HMS Vernon on 6 August 1940 causing the deaths of 1 officer and 4 ratings and serious injuries to other personnel. Following this, mines were stripped and examined at a nearby quarry that was nicknamed HMS Mirtle (short for Mine Investigation Range).
Various sections of HMS Vernon were dispersed to sites throughout the country following heavy air raids, one of which demolished Dido Building and killed 100 people on a single night. On 3 May 1941, the main part of HMS Vernon was evacuated to Roedean Girls' School at Brighton (HMS Vernon(R)) where bell pushes on the dormitory bulkhead were purportedly labeled "Ring for Mistress'. Other sites included Havant, Purbrook, West Leigh, Stokes Bay, Hove, Dartmouth/ Brixham, Helensburgh, Edinburgh and Port Edgar.