Close Button

WWII ‘Minesweeping’ DSM Group of 6

Item Reference: GM46680

WWII  ‘Minesweeping’ DSM Group of 6

A WWII Dunkirk and D-Day Operations ‘Minesweeping’ DSM Group of 6 awarded to Leading Seaman Robert Louis Rousseau, Merchant Navy, awarded the DSM for ‘devotion to duty’ aboard Motor Minesweeper HMS MMS-17, comprising: Distinguished Service Medal, GVIR (L.S. R. L. Rousseau, LT/JX 203783.), 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, War Medal 1939-45, Dunkirk Veteran’s Medal; the first officially impressed, with box of issue, the remainder unnamed as issued, group loose, the latter framed with original named certificate. The first toned, lightly polished, group extremely fine overall. (6). DSM London Gazette 01.01.1945. Leading Seaman Robert Louis Rousseau was born in Bristol on the 9th of January 1922, but was raised in Brighton, the son of John and Phillis Rousseau. Having been raised on the Channel Coast and given that his father had been born in St Helens, Jersey , and had served as an Armourer with the Royal Navy, it appears to have been something of a forgone conclusion for Robert Rousseau to serve at sea, choosing the Merchant Navy. LS Robert Rousseau took part in the evacuation of British Forces from Dunkirk as part of ‘Operation Dynamo’ between the 27th of May and the early hours of the 4th of June 1940,whilst serving with the Merchant Navy (as shown by his certificate), and is believed to have served aboard one of the ‘little ships of Dunkirk’ - a flotilla of nearly 700 smaller merchant and fishing vessels, as well as a number of Dutch coasters, that assisted the larger British Fleet in removing as many soldiers as possible in that short window of opportunity. Later in the war, he was awarded the DSM for service with HM Motor Minesweeper 17, a Thornycroft Motor Minesweeper (these vessels known generally as MMS or ‘Mickey Mouse’), which served as part of the 101st Minesweeping Flotilla, initially based at Gravesend. The 101st Minesweeping Flotilla played an important part in the intensive and largely unsung minesweeping operations prior to ‘Operation Neptune’ and the D-Day landings, later working from Lowestoft. In an attempt to clear the channel ‘lanes’ intended for the enormous 7000 or so vessels necessary for the landings, minesweeping flotillas worked tirelessly in June and July 1944 to ensure their safety from German acoustic and magnetic mines. In particular, on the 5th and 6th of June, right up to the point of the landings, the MMS Flotillas in fact led the way, undertaking the final and particularly risky minesweeping of the inshore areas as close to the shoreline as possible, to remove mines deployed to destroy smaller troop carrying landing craft bringing the soldiers to the beach. As described by the Naval Commander of the Western Task Force, Read Admiral Alan Kirk, US Navy: “It can be said without fear of contradiction that minesweeping was the keystone in the arch of this operation. All of the waters were suitable for mining, and plans of unprecedented complexity were required. The performance of the minesweepers can only be described as magnificent.” Sold with original photograph of recipient in uniform, believed to be with his brothers, original letter of notification of the award of the DSM for ‘gallantry in the face of the Enemy’ as part of the New Year Honours, original certificate of identity slip pertaining to the award of a Naval Gratuity of £20 for the DSM, signed by the recipient, dated 4th of September 1947, and some useful genealogical research, showing that LS R L Rousse died in May 1985 at Brighton, and historical research, particularly relating to “Operation Neptune: the Minesweeping Operation 5-6June 1944”, by David Verghese