Born in Leatherhead in August 1891, Harold attended Wilson’s School which at the time was located in Camberwell but is now in Wallington. He joined the Royal Navy Reserve before the start of the First World War.
During the First World War, Lieutenant Harold Auten was in command of a Q ship, HMS Stock Force. On 30th July 1918, his ship was attacked and almost destroyed by a German U-boat. Despite the extensive damage to the vessel Lieutenant Auten and his crew returned fire and sank the U-boat. The action was cited in the 20 November 1918 Supplement to the London Gazette as “one of the finest examples of coolness, discipline and good organisation in the history of “Q” ships”.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth.
After the First World War he became an author and wrote his first book, Q Boat Adventures in 1919. He became an executive vice-president of the Rank Organisation in New York and lived for thirty years in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, owning a hotel and cinema. During the Second World War he held the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy.
He died on 3rd October 1964 aged 73 and is buried at Sandhill Cemetery in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He will be remembered for his bravery on the HMS Stock Force, for his literature and entrepreneurship.
What is the Victoria Cross?
The Victoria Cross is the highest military medal that can be awarded to any soldier of any rank within any regiment for acts of bravery. It is only given to soldiers from Britain, Commonwealth or former British Empire countries. It was first introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of bravery in the Crimean War (1853 – 1856). It is rare to win the medal at all and even rarer to be awarded the medal twice. Just three people have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice. The Imperial War Museum has information on the Victoria Cross.