THE VICTORIA CROSS AWARDED TO MAJOR GENERAL DANIEL BEAK DSO MC & BAR, ROYAL NAVAL DIVISION, COMMAND DRAKE BATTALION, HAS BEEN SOLD AT AUCTION.
5th November 2003

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Daniel Beak have been sold at auction by Spink & Son for a world record sum of £155,000 ( hammer price ). The VC was purchased on behalf of the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.



( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Major General Daniel Beak,
comd Drake Bn, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )
  • Military Cross ( MC ) & Bar
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Africa Star + clasp "8th Army"
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1935 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )

Daniel Beak was born on the 27th January 1891 at Southampton, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Beak, formerly of West End House, Donhead St. Mary, Wiltshire. He was educated at Taunton's School, Southampton, and joined the RNVR on the 26th January 1915 as a ranker, and rose swiftly to Petty Officer. Beak was gazetted Sub-Lieutenant on 8th May 1915 in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve for duty with the Royal Naval Division, where he saw service in Gallipoli and was present during the evacuation of the peninsula. He later spent the rest of his active career on the Western Front in France where he was awarded numerous gallantry awards, including the Victoria Cross.


[ London Gazette, 15 November 1918 ], Logeast Wood, France, 21st, 25th August & 4th September 1918, T / Commander Daniel Marcus William Beak DSO, MC, Commander Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

"For most conspicuous bravery, courageous leadership and devotion to duty during a prolonged period of operations. He led his men in attack, and, despite heavy machine-gun fire, four enemy positions were captured. His skilful and fearless leadership resulted in the complete success of this operation and enabled other battalions to reach their objectives.

Four days later, though dazed by a shell fragment in the absence of the brigade commander, he reorganised the whole brigade under extremely heavy gun fire and led his men with splendid courage to their objective. An attack having been held up, he rushed forward, accompanied by only one runner, and succeeded in breaking up a nest of machine-guns, personally bringing back nine or ten prisoners. His fearless example instilled courage and confidence in his men, who then quickly resumed the advance under his leadership.

On a subsequent occasion he displayed great courage and powers of leadership in attack, and his initiative, coupled with the confidence with which he inspired all ranks, not only enabled his own and a neighbouring unit to advance, but contributed very materially to the success of the Naval Division in these operations."

Daniel Beak was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Valenciennes, France, on 6th December 1918.


Daniel Beak held several appointments throughout WWI with the Royal Naval Division's Drake, Anson and Howe Battalions, finally commanding Drake Battalion on 12th March 1918 until the demobilization of the Royal Naval Division in June 1919. He joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers, transferring later to the King's Regiment in 1932 with the rank of Major. From 1939-40 Beak commanded the 1st Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment, was promoted Brigadier in 1940, Acting Major-General in 1941, and was appointed General Officer Commanding at Malta in 1942.

Daniel Beak died on the 3rd May 1967 in the Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, Wiltshire, following a long illness, and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey. According to family history, Beak wished his grave to remain unmarked.

[ London Gazette, 26 July 1918 ], Created Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Temporary Commander Daniel Marcus William Beak MC, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

"For conspicuous gallanry and devotion to duty. During a night attack by the enemy the right flank of his division was left in a dangerous position. He arranged for a flank to be formed in that direction, and subsequently covered the retirement of two brigades with a composite rear-guard which he organised and commanded. His initiative and presence of mind greatly assisted in extricating these brigades from a very difficult situation. Throughout, the skilful handling of his battalion was particularly noticeable."


[ London Gazette, 26 January 1917 ], Award of the Military Cross, Temp Sub-Lieutenant Daniel Marcus William Beak, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

"For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his men in the attack with gret courage and initiative and materially assisted in the capture of the enemy line. He set a fine example throughout."


[ London Gazette, 18 July 1917 ], Award of a Bar to the Military Cross, Temp Sub-Lieutenant ( Acting Lieutenant-Commander ) Daniel Marcus William Beak MC, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

"For conspicuous gallantry during operations, when he continually dashed forward, under heavy fire, to reorganize the men, and led them on with great bravery through the enemy barrage and machine-gun fire."

Acquisitions

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Iain Stewart, 5 November 2003