Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (1 & 2 March 2017)

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £7,000

Estimate: £7,000 - £9,000

An Albert Medal for Sea group of seven awarded to Chief Stoker A. Stickley, Royal Navy, for gallantry following the outbreak of a fire in the boiler room of the Torpedo Boat Destroyer Success on 11 June 1904, in which he saved the lives of four stokers, and was severely burnt; he had previously served in H.M.S. Powerful during the Boer War

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented by His Majesty to Chief Stoker Alfred Stickley, R.N., in recognition of the Gallantry displayed by him on the occasion of the explosion in the stokehold of H.M.S. “Success” on the 11th. day of June 1904’; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, no clasp (A. Stickley, Ch. Sto., H.M.S. Powerful.); 1914-15 Star (131808, A. Stickley, Ch. Sto., R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (131808 A. Stickley. Ch. Sto. R.N.); Coronation 1911, silver; Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., V.R., narrow suspension (A. Stickley, Ch. Stoer, H.M.S. Powerful.) contact marks throughout, therefore very fine (7) £7000-9000


A.M. London Gazette 17 February 1905:

‘On the morning of the 11th June 1904, at about 11:30, His Majesty’s Torpedo Boat Destroyer Success was steaming towards Lamlash, when it became apparent from deck, owing to the issue of steam from the funnel, that something was wrong in the after stokehold. Alfred Stickley, Chief Stoker, in accordance with the orders of the Engineer Officer, went below to ascertain the cause. On reaching the stokehold he found that there was an escape of steam from the top drum of No. 4 Boiler, which shortly caused one of the furnace doors which had been left unlatched to be blown open. The stokehold was immediately filled with flame and steam, and the men present were burnt and scalded. Stickley grasped the situation with promptness, showing the greatest presence of mind in the emergency, and ran great risks in endeavouring to minimise the consequences of the accident and prevent further injuries to the men.
In spite of the conditions in the stokehold, and his own severe exposure to the flames, he managed to open out the fans to their full extent, and made many gallant attempts to close the furnace door and open the drencher valve. Finding it was impossible to drive the flames back, he gave orders for the hatch to be opened, and himself remained below until the four men in the stokehold had effected their escape. His face and neck were severely burned, and his hands and forearms very badly scalded. For over four months he has been on the sick list suffering from his injuries. His lungs escaped injury, as he had the presence of mind to put cotton waste into his mouth while he was in the stokehold.’

Alfred Stickley was born on the Isle of Dogs, London, on 12 January 1867 and enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class on 1 April 1885, having previously been employed as a bargeman. Advanced Acting Chief Stoker on 14 April 1897, he transferred for service in H.M.S. Powerful on 8 June of that year, and was promoted Chief Stoker on 22 April 1898. He served in Powerful during operations on and off the coast of South Africa in the Boer War, and received his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on 30 August 1900, before transferring for service in H.M.S. Success on 1 April 1904. Severely burnt during his gallant act following the accident in the ship’s stokehold, his Captain wrote to him: ‘I consider you behaved so well during the accident and I am quite sure that you were the means of everyone coming on deck alive. Considering the damage done to No. 4 Boiler, I can only wonder that anybody came on deck at all as the boiler is now quite useless the drum being badly damaged and at least 34 tubes having gone.’ (letter to the recipient from Captain Osmond Prentis, dated 16 June 1904 refers). Recommended for the Albert Medal by Success’s captain, he was awarded his Albert Medal by H.M. King Edward VII on 9 February 1905, the investiture having been deferred for a considerable time on account of the recipient’s severe burns.

Drafted to H.M. Yacht Victoria and Albert on 15 February 1905 as a reward for his gallantry, ‘to be borne on the books as a permanent supernumerary until a vacancy occurs for a Chief Stoker, when he is to be absorbed into the compliment’ (the recipient’s service record refers), he had a long and pleasant commission in the Royal Yacht, before serving throughout the Great War, first in H.M.S. King Alfred from 4 August 1914, and then in H.M.S. Victory until the end of the War. He was finally shore pensioned on 29 March 1919, after 33 years’ service.

Sold together with six original letters regarding the gallant act; a copy of The Sun, dated 10 February 1905, giving details of the investiture; and a photograph of the recipient.