Orders, Decorations and Medals (5 December 1995)

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Date of Auction: 5th December 1995

Sold for £2,300

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

The George Cross pair awarded to Stanley Sewell for gallantry after an explosion at the Royal Gunpowder Factory in 1940
George Cross, the reverse officially inscribed (Stanley William Sewell, 6th February, 1940); Coronation 1953, the pair mounted as worn, good very fine (2)


Empire Gallantry Medal London Gazette 6 February 1940.
On 18th January 1940 an explosion occurred at the Royal Gunpowder Factory [Waltham Abbey, Essex]. At the time when the explosion took place Mr. Sewell and another explosive worker - generally known as hillmen - were engaged on the nitration of glycerine, the most critical stage in the process of manufacture when the liability to detonation is greatest. The building in which the process was carried out was only 150 yards from the scene of the explosion and was also damaged. Over 1,000lbs of nitro-glycerine were under process and in a condition of instability. Mr. Sewell and the other hillman, realising the damage to life and property which would be caused by a further explosion, stood by their posts for some two hours, until the services were restored, and then calmly continued with their work until the whole charge had been brought to a state of stability.
Stanley William Sewell was born in Enfield, Middlesex, on 16 December, 1906, and died there on 25 May, 1969. The other hillman, Mr. L. F. O’Hagan, was similarly decorated.