Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2015)

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Date of Auction: 22nd July 2015

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

An Albert Medal awarded to Artificer Engineer E. J. Psyden, for gallantry in saving life after an explosion in the engine room of H.M.S. Sandhurst at Scapa Flow on 27 February 1917

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea (Presented by His Majesty to Artificer Engineer Edmund John Psyden, R.N. for gallantry in saving life after an explosion in the engine room of H.M.S. “Sandhurst” on the 27th February 1917) good very fine £6000-8000


Albert Medal London Gazette 4 September 1917:

‘The KING is pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal on Artificer Engineer (now Acting Mate (E)) Edmund John Pysden, R.N. The following is the account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred:

On the morning of the 27th February, 1917, one of the auxiliary stop valves in one of H.M. Ships accidentally burst, the boiler room immediately becoming filled with dense steam. In spite of the danger of burning and suffocation from steam, and of the fact that it was impossible to draw fires or at once to lift the safety valves, which rendered the possibility of a second and even worse accident highly probable, Mr. Edmund John Pysden, Artificer Engineer, R.N., made several gallant attempts to enter the stokehold, and succeeded in bringing out two men who were lying insensible on the stokehold plates, and helped to bring out others. Several of the survivors would undoubtedly have lost their lives but for the rescues effected by this officer and others. Mr. Pysden also eventually succeeded in opening the safety valve, which relieved the immediate danger of a further accident. Although he had a wet rag tied over his mouth, he swallowed a considerable quantity of live steam, and was partially incapacitated by its effects. Notwithstanding the gallant efforts of Mr. Pysden and other members of the ship's company, three men lost their lives owing to the accident and nine were seriously injured.’

Edmund John Psyden was born at Sheerness, Kent, on 28 October 1881, and was a coppersmith by trade when he entered the Navy as an Acting Engine Room Artificer 4th Class on 15 October 1903. He was promoted to Warrant rank as Acting Artificer Engineer on 1 September 1913, and confirmed in the rank on 23 September 1914. He joined H.M.S. Manipur in January 1916, the ship being renamed Sandhurst in July of that same year. At the time of the above incident Sandhurst was in Gutter Sound, Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands. Psyden was promoted to Acting Mate (E) on 7 June 1917 and retired in the rank of Engineer Lieutenant Commander on 28 October 1926.

H.M.S. Sandhurst, formerly the merchant ship Manipur, was built by Harland and Wolf, Belfast, and requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1916, first as a dummy of H.M.S. Indomitable and later as a Fleet repair ship.