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

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £15,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

An Infantry Officer’s Albert Medal in Gold for Land awarded to Lieutenant E. F. Ross, Dorset Regiment, later Major, Indian Army, for gallantry during the Ferozepore Arsenal Fire, 30 August 1906. 2 Albert Medals in Gold and 11 Albert Medals in Bronze were awarded for the operations to extinguish the fire and prevent the explosion of over 300,000lbs. of gunpowder

Albert Medal, 1st Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land, gold and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented in the name of His Majesty to Captain (then Lieut.) Eglintoune Frederick Ross for Gallantry in saving life at Ferozepore on the 31st. August 1906.’, in case of issue, extremely fine £8000-10000


Provenance: Montague Collection, Glendining’s, November 1926; Sotheby’s, April 1981; Spink, July 1994.

A.M. London Gazette 26 August 1913 (in a joint citation within which the parts played by a number of recipients are quoted in separate paragraphs):

‘On 30th August 1906, a fire broke out in one of the magazines of the Ferozepore Arsenal comprising five cells in which were stored cordite, small-arms ammunition and gunpowder. At an early stage the ends of one of the outer cells (No. 10) were blown out by a explosion of cordite, while from cell No. 9, where small-arms ammunition was stored, smoke was seen to be issuing.
Major-General Anderson, who directed the subsequent operations from a roof at the edge of the magazine compound, at a distance of some 20 yards, having ordered all persons to be cleared out of the fort, and placed a cordon round it at 1,000 yards distance, a steam fire-engine was got to work, and the fire party which had been organised commenced their highly dangerous task of clearing cell No. 8 in which was stored some 19,000lbs. of gunpowder; they eventually succeeded in so doing, thereby cutting off the fire by the intervention of an empty cell. Had the powder in this cell exploded, the explosion must have been communicated to cells in an adjoining magazine where 300,000lbs. of gunpowder was stored.
Captain Donovan volunteered to clear cell No. 8, and led the fire party, and all concerned acted with the greatest coolness in circumstances calling for a high degree of courage. The door of the cell was opened and the fire hose turned on. Major Campbell joined the party by the cell, and returned in a short while and reported to General Anderson that though the cell was full of smoke, and the barrels hot, there was no actual fire in the cell. As, however, the explosions in the ruined cell No. 10 were becoming more violent, General Anderson, fearing that the barrels of powder which were being removed from cell No. 8 would be ignited, ordered the discontinuance of efforts to clear the cell; the pumping-engine was, however, kept at work by Mr. Dow and some native assistants.
A series of heavy explosions of cordite now took place and on the occurrence of a lull Captain Clarke went to reconnoitre, and reported that cell No. 9 was still apparently intact. Major Campbell and Mr. Pargiter subsequently went into the enclosure to investigate, and on their report being received a party including fifty Lascars was organised, and the removal of the powder barrels in cell No. 8 was recommenced under cover of the fire-hose. During their removal the last important explosion of cordite took place some 12 yards away. Eventually all the barrels were removed without accident.
Captain Ross discovered the fire, and with a detachment of his regiment, entered the magazine compound with a small hand-engine fed from tanks in the magazine, and attempted to put out the fire. He also worked at getting the steam-engine into position.
Major Young, as General Anderson’s Brigade-Major, was constantly with the General in positions of great danger. In particular he joined General Anderson at a critical moment by the door of No. 8 cell, from which the gunpowder was being removed, and remained with the General throughout the rest of the period of danger.
Captain Battye assisted in the removal of the gunpowder from No. 8 cell. He also, with Staff-Sergeant Fitzpatrick, directed the operation for piercing two holes through the masonry of the roof of cell No. 9 where the small-arms ammunition was burning and succeeded in getting the hose through these holes so as to play on the burning ammunition. By this means a check on the fire in No. 9 cell was effected. Both men were conspicuous throughout the day in the magazine enclosure.’

Eglintoune Frederick Ross was born in Lewes, Sussex, on 20 June 1883 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 12 August 1902, having previously served in the 4th (Militia) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. He was promoted Lieutenant on 19 July 1905, before transferring to the Dorset Regiment and proceeding to India. He transferred to the Indian Army on 12 December 1909, was promoted Captain on 12 August 1911, and was appointed Company Commander of the 75th Carnatic Infantry. He was awarded his Albert Medal by H.E. the Governor of Madras on 7 February 1914. He subsequently served during the Great War with the 1/88th Infantry, Indian Army, and was advanced to Major (additionally entitled to the British War and Victory Medals). He retired on 23 November 1921, and died in 1955.

Two First Class (to Ross and Captain Charles Creaghe Donovan) and eleven Second Class Albert Medals for Land were awarded for this potentially disastrous fire and the resulting operations to bring it under control. The lengthy delay between the action and the date of the awards being Gazetted is unexplained.