Presented is an antique quintant, serial number 658, all parts matching
entirely throughout, with a classic “Bell” shape, MK III, frame made by Heath & Co., Ltd., New Eltham, London,
Ca 1920. The quintant is in exceptional condition having been the property throughout the naval career
of the CAPT Wilfrid JC Robertson, Royal Navy, DSC whose name is engraved on a brass plaque on the case’s lid and on the
right hand side of the instrument’s arc. It comes complete with all its telescopes (3), a sighting tube, and all accessories,
and except for a small screwdriver, nothing is missing. This is rarely found after all these years.
The polished arc and silver scale is calibrated -5 to 150 degrees making this a quintant not a sextant with
a vernier scale reading from the right from 0 to 10 arc seconds in 2 second intervals. The sextant has three
horizon shades and four index shades, all in good order. The instrument and it’s accessories are housed in the fitted military
style hard wood carrying case which has brass hinges and latches, campaign chest handle and engraved brass plaque
on its top with the owners name. There is no key.CASE DIMENSIONS: 10″
L x 10 1/2″ D” L x 5″ H INSTRUMENT WEIGHT 2 LBS 8 OZ TOTAL WEIGHT 9
CAPT ROBINSON, THE OWNER: After commanding the destroyer, HMS Walker, D27,
Robertson joined the staff of Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet as Staff Officer – Operations aboard the battleship HMS KING
GEORGE V. He served in that capacity from 14 Jan 1940 through December, 1941. It was during this period that a plane from
the aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL hit the German battleship Bismarck’s with a torpedo, jamming her rudders. Her inability
to steer thereafter allowed the KING GEORGE and HMS RODNEY to bring her under fire on the morning of 27 May. She
was sunk at 1041.
It was for his leadership in this action that then Commander Robertson was awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross which is given for gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea. It is Brittan’s third
highest award for gallantry against an armed enemy.
Three books about the sinking of the Bismarck mention Robertson. They are:
Episode” by Capt. Russell Grenfel, RN-MacMillan Company, Bismarck
- “Pursuit, The Chasing and Sinking of the Battleship
by Ludovic Kennedy-Viking Press,1974
- “The Sinking of the
deadly Hunt” Sterling Publishing, 2006, by William L. Shirir
Robertson was promoted to Captain in June 1942, and reported as Deputy Director of Operations Division
(Home), Admiralty from 31 Aug 1942 until he assumed command of the Royal Naval Air
Station, in Fearn, Ross-shire, England. In December, 1946 he went back to sea as commanding officer of the cruiser, HMS Nigeria and later served as Flag Captain. He retired in 1951 from active duty
and died ten year later. How his sextant / quintant found its way to these shores is unknown.
Horizon mirror in good condition
in good condition
Adjustable telescope rising piece
Name plate on case
SCROLL DOWN TO GALLEY FOR MORE PICTURES
THE CERTIFICATE is the original
issued by National Physical Laboratory in May 3, 1920. The non-adjustable instrument error is no greater that 20 arc
seconds from 90 degrees through 120 degrees, the extent of the range measured.
THE INSTRUMENT’S CONDITION: The instrument, and
all its hardware are all in exceptional condition including the two mirrors. The Boxwood handle has an
ivory plate on its back for making notations. The index arm clamp, and swing arm magnifier are complete and in good
working order. Everything is present and in good working order except for a missing screw driver. There is nothing to
mark this sextant down except the polished frame has a few spots of tarnish, and there is an age crack on the bottom of the
case. Except for this crack the military style case is in great shape. The instrument is in exceptional quality overall.
The instrument has its original sighting tube, three telescopes, marked
S 658, and two ocular lens caps, wrenches, and other small parts. All numbers match.
Rarely do you find an
instrument from a historic person that is that is 95 years old in this well preserved original condition.
A superior addition to any collection.
WJC ROBERTSON’S SERVICE HISTORY IS FOUND AT http://unithistories.com/officers/RN_officersR.html#Robertson_WJC
Wilfrid James Cameron 1903 ?
A/S.Lt. 15.01.1922 S.Lt. 1923?, seniority 15.09.1922 Lt. 15.06.1924 Lt.Cdr. 15.06.1932 Cdr. 30.06.1936 Capt. 30.06.1942 (retd 31.03.1951)
DSC 14.10.1941 Bismarck action [investiture
– VM – – 39|45 St – – Atl St – – BWM 39|45 – – MID 11.07.1940 HM’s birthday 40 Medals at the National Maritime Museum
… – … … 24.08.1939 – 06.01.1940 Commanding Officer, HMS Walker (destroyer) (1st Anti-Submarine
14.01.1940 – (12.1941) Staff Officer
to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet [HMS King George V (battleship)]
(08.1942) HMS King George V (battleship) * 31.08.1942 – (12.1943) Deputy Director of Operations Division (Home), Admiralty [HMS President] 02.1944 – (07.1945) Commanding Officer, HMS Owl (RN Air Station, Fearn, Ross-shire) 12.04.1946 – 10.1947 Commanding Officer, HMS Nigeria (cruiser)
(later also Flag Captain)DOES MY OPINION COUNT: We are one of the few company’s still selling navigation instruments that know anything about them. For purposes of judging
whether my opinion counts, I was the editor of the chapter on sextants of the 1977 Edition of “Bowditch”, The American
Practical Navigator, NAVPUB 9; a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Navigation Symposium Board, 1975 -1978; the author of a
book on marine sextants, Cornell Maritime Press,1975, and the founding president of Nautech Maritime Corporation which partnered
with Tamaya of Japan in the introduction of the MS 733 Spica, the MS 833, Jupiter, MS 933 Venus sextants and the famous NC-2
navigation computer, in the U.S. market. I also am a retired Master Mariner, and held a U.S. Navy “D” Qualification
as a Senior Skipper – Oceans. From 1995 until 2001, I served as a Varsity Offshore Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.
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