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

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000

An Albert Medal for Land awarded to Lieutenant, later Captain, J. Neale, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, for gallantry in saving life following a Wartime munitions accident at Claremont Park, Esher on 25 August 1916 - he was recommended for his award by the Minister of Munitions, the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill M.P.

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented by His Majesty to Lieutenant John Neale, R.N.V.R., for Gallantry in saving life at Claremont Park, Esher, on the 25th. August 1916.’, in case of issue, minor edge nick, otherwise extremely fine £5000-6000


A.M. London Gazette 23 January 1918:

‘On the 25th August 1916, Lt. Neale, R.N.V.R., was conducting certain experiments which involved the projection from a Stokes mortar of a tube containing flare powder. An accident occurred, rendering imminent the explosion of the tube before leaving the mortar, which would almost certainly have resulted in the bursting of the mortar with loss of live to bystanders. Lt. Neale, in order to safeguard the lives of the working party, at once attempted to lift the tube from the mortar. It exploded whilst he was doing so, with the result that he was severely injured, but owing to the fact that he had partly withdrawn the tube from the mortar no injury was caused to others.’

John Neale, of Oxshott, Surrey, was commissioned Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served during the Great War attached to the Munitions Experimental Station, at Claremont Park, Esher, the home of H.R.H. the Dowager Duchess of Albany. As his work was the responsibility of the Ministry of Munitions, the recommendation for the award of his Albert Medal was made to the King by the Minister of Munitions, the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, M.P., and Neale was presented with his Albert Medal by H.M. King George V at Buckingham Palace on 6 April 1918. He was subsequently advanced Captain, Royal Marine Engineers.

The Home Office papers dealing with Neale’s award are preserved in the Public Record Office and contain, inter alia, the original recommendation made on behalf of the Minister of Munitions; the submission to the King; the draft citation; a copy of the inscription to be engraved on the reverse of the award; and correspondence leading to the investiture at Buckingham Palace.