A collection of Great War medals, including the first Victoria Cross awarded to a sailor, is expected to fetch £2m at auction.

Captain Henry Peel Ritchie earned the VC in 1914. His group of medals is expected to fetch as much as £260,000.

Above: Captain Ritchie VC

Capt. Ritchie received eight wounds in less than half an hour whilst he endeavoured to steer the steam pinnace from HMS Goliath away from danger during a raid on the port of Dar-es-Salaam – which was under German control – in east Africa in November 1914.

The citation for the VC was as follows: 

For most conspicuous bravery on the 28th of November 1914 when in command of the searching and demolition operations at Dar-es-Salaam East Africa Though severely wounded several times his fortitude and resolution enabled him to continue to do his duty inspiring all by his example until at his eighth wound he became unconscious The interval between his first and last severe wound was between twenty and twenty-five minutes

Above: HMS Goliath 

Henry Ritchie, who was on the only remaining British boat in Dar-es-Salaam harbour, attempted to take on board another Royal Navy officer who had earlier gone aboard the German hospital ship Tabora to conduct a medical inspection. This was not successful, and when leaving the harbour Ritchie's pinnace came under fire leading to a large proportion of his crew being wounded. Nevertheless, Ritchie would not abandon his place at the helm until he had navigated his boat to safety. He was found "smothered in blood and barely conscious" by Goliath's crew when they went to his. Ritchie was taken to the battleship's sick bay, where it was ascertained that he had been hit in eight separate places.

The raid had cost the British one dead, fourteen seriously wounded and twelve captured after they were left behind. The Royal Naval raiders had damaged three large merchant vessels destroyed several shore installations, and taken thirty-five prisoners.

Above and below: Images from 'Deeds that Thrill the Empire' 

Ritchie survived the war, passing away in 1958. 

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