Family Group to a Father and his two sons.
1914-15 Star Trio, Sydney Emden Medal by W. Kerr, Victory over the SMS Emden 1914 Medal, officially named, Stoker W.R. Belcham, attached Royal Australian Navy, with family medals.
An original Crew Member of the HMAS Sydney since June 1913 when it was commissioned, who took part in the sinking of SMS Emden, also being present as the ship was attacked by Zeppelin L43, in what was the very first Air Attack on a Royal Australian Navy ship.
Medals are all displayed in a modern metal frame and tied down, about 50cm x 30cm, can be dismantled for sending overseas.
Medals of Stoker Walter Ryly Belcham, HMAS Sydney, Royal Australian Navy:
1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
W. Kerr of Sydney, Sydney Emden Medal, made from a recovered 1881 8 Reales coin.
HMAS Sydney Victory over the SMS Emden Medal, 1914, presented by the people of Western Australia to the ship’s crew, named on the reverse: “W.R. Belcham Stoker”
Also an original round enamelled HMAS Sydney badge.
Walter Ryly Belcham was born on 3rd March 1887 in Teddington, Middlesex.
He joined the navy onboard HMS Acheron as Stoker 2nd Class on 4th July 1905, having been a Butcher’s Assistant.
On 1st March 1913, he was officially lent to the Royal Australian Navy for a 3 year agreement, being stationed at the Royal Australian Naval Depot in London.
On 27th June 1913 he was posted to HMAS Sydney as a Stoker, only one day after it had been commissioned and was in need of a crew.
The Sydney embarked on it’s maiden voyage, arriving in Albany, Western Australia on 19th September 1913. Soon afterwards the war began, Sydney was north bound to join Admiral George Patey and the Battlecruiser HMAS Australia. The two ships were then assigned to protect the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, which was used to capture German colonial assets in the region; the Sydney participated in operations against Rabaul and Anguar Island in September 1914.
During October, along with her sister ship HMAS Melbourne, they left Patey’s squadron for Sydney, joining the escort of the first convoy which was delivering Australia and New Zealand Soldiers to Egypt.
They would then be involved in the Battle of Cocos, involving the famous sinking of SMS Edmen.
On 9th November 1914, the communications station at Direction Island, in the Cocos Islands, was captured by the German Light Cruiser, SMS Emden. However before the capture the station sent out an S.O.S., being received by the troop convoy, HMAS Sydney broke away and was sent to investigate the call.
The SMS Emden however had been listening and overheard the distress call including the orders to HMAS Sydney, they then prepared to meet the Australians in battle.
The Sydney was surprised at first, being engaged at 6 nautical miles away with fire from the Emden, the Sydney immediately replied, firing two salvos which destroyed the Emden’s 3 funnels, foremast, wireless and steering gear, also setting the engine room on fire.
The Emden was forced to beach herself on North Keeling Island, and Sydney pursued the supporting Collier, the Buresk, but the ship had already commenced scuttling, so they returned to the Emden.
The Germans however were still flying their war ensign, but pulled it down after the Sydney transmitted an instruction to surrender, then fired a further two salvos when no response was forthcoming.
During the battle, the Sydney fire 670 rounds of ammunition, claiming around 100 hits. She had taken sixteen hits, with 3 crew killed and 13 wounded.
On the other side 134 German sailors were killed, with the rest of the ship’s company captured by the Sydney, minus a shore party which had managed to commandeer the Schooner Ayesha and escaped. The prisoners were delivered to the British Force at Valletta, Malta. Following this they proceeded to the North American and West Indies Station, arriving in Bermuda on 6th January 1915.
He served continuously on the Sydney until 30th November 1917, in the time between the ship spent 18 months uneventfully patrolling along the west coast of the Americas, returning home for a refit.
His last action on board was on 4th May 1917, whilst patrolling in the North Sea with the Cruiser Dublin, and Destroyers Nepean, Pelican, Pylades and Obdurate. When Sydney took part in a battle with the German Airship, Zeppelin L43, when the airship dropped 10 to 12 bombs aimed towards the Sydney, but failed to hit the ship, this was the very first air attack on an Australian Warship, they managed to drive off the Zeppelin with anti aircraft fire.
Following the end of his service with the R.A.N. he rejoined the Royal Navy, he finished his service onboard, HMS Pembroke 2, HMS Victorious II (Albacore), HMS Vanessa II, HMS Pembroke II, with his final posting before being discharged on HMS Dragon from 10th August 1918 until 11th February 1919.
His 2 Sons Medals:
Leslie Belcham, Sailor, Merchant Navy, killed aged 21 in the sinking of S.S. Sanvern.
1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, bar France and Germany, Italy Star, 1939-45 War Medal.
Born on 23rd April 1923, to Walter Ryly Belcham and Evelyn Ethel Belcham (Healey).
General Service Medal, bar Palestine 1945-48, 2270790 A.C.I. R. Belcham, Royal Air Force.
Reginald Belcham born September 1927 in Teddington, Middlesex, died 2005.