Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 July 2017)

Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £1,600

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400

An important Second War C.B.E., Great War K.P.M. group of ten awarded to Chief Officer B. A. Westbrook, Founder of the Auxiliary Fire Service, formerly of the Calcutta Fire Brigade and Tunbridge Wells Fire Brigade

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Civil) Commander’s 2nd type neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with neck riband, in Garrard, London case of issue; King’s Police Medal, G.V.R., 1st issue (Bernard Anson Westbrook. Ch. Officer, Calcutta F.B., Bengal.) partially officially re-engravedBritish War and Victory Medals (Capt. B. A. Westbrook.); Defence Medal, with named card box of issue; Jubilee 1935; France, Third Republic, Medal of Honour, Ministry of the Interior, silver with gilt suspension, reverse inscribed, ‘Captain Bernard A. Westbrook C.F.B.’; Austria, Republic, Fire Brigade and Rescue Services Long Service Medal, for 25 years, bronze-gilt; London Private Fire Brigades Association Medal, silver, reverse inscribed, ‘C.O. B. Westbrook Calcutta F.B.’ (rim engraved ‘S 38’); Austria, Republic, Fire Brigade Merit Medal, silver, these nine medals mounted as worn; together with Institution of Fire Engineers Past Presidents’ Badge, gold (9ct., hallmarks for Birmingham 1935) and enamel, reverse inscribed, ‘Captain Bernard A. Westbrook CBE Chief Officer Fire Brigade Calcutta President 1934’, in case of issue; France, Republic, Ministry of Public Instruction National Office of Research and Inventions Medallion, 57mm, bronze-gilt, reverse embossed, ‘Major B. A. Westbrook’, in case of issue, generally very fine and better (12) £1000-1400


C.B.E. London Gazette 1 January 1943: ‘Bernard Anson Westbrook, Esq, O.B.E., Chief Regional Fire Officer, No. 9 (Midland) Region. Chief Technical Adviser to the Fire Service Department, Home Office’.

O.B.E. London Gazette 1 March 1929: ‘Captain, Chief Officer, Calcutta Fire Brigade, Bengal’.

K.P.M. London Gazette 12 February 1917.

Bernard Anson Westbrook was born on 8 March 1884 and was educated at Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells. He first served with Tunbridge Wells Fire Brigade under his father, Captain Edward Westbrook, the Chief Officer (several incidents noted in press of the time). In 1911, Westbrook was appointed by UK Government to set up from scratch the Fire Brigade in Calcutta. He was employed as Chief Fire Officer, Calcutta Fire Brigade, 1910-36, for which service he was awarded the O.B.E. (1929) and K.P.M. (1917). During the Great War, he was a Captain on the Special List and served in Mesopotamia with the Army Fire Services. In April 1918, he returned to the Calcutta Fire Brigade and was present during the Calcutta Riots in the mid-1920s. In 1934, he was appointed President of the Institute of Fire Engineers, the first ever appointment from an overseas fire brigade. He returned to England in 1936 and was employed as Fire Inspector at the Home Office, 1936-38, and then Chief Inspector, Fire Service Department, Home Office, 1938-39 when he was instrumental in organising the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was part of the four-man Fire Service Council of England and Wales set up in 1941, and instrumental in founding the National Fire Service. Nine Regional Fire Officers were appointed in August 1941, of which Westbrook was one, seconded as Chief Regional Fire Officer, Midland Division No. 9 (Birmingham), serving to 1945, opening the Birmingham N.F.S. Women’s College in 1942, being present during the Birmingham Blitz and subsequently awarded the C.B.E.
In 1942, in Birmingham, Westbrook invented the ‘'hedgehog' water fire-system to deal with incendiary devices. He had also written extensively on fire prevention and extinction in the proceedings of the institute of Ciivl Engineers. Post-war, he continued his work with the Home Office and travelled extensively studying fire protection in foreign countries. He died on 3 January 1969.

Sold together with a substantial amount of archive information, including several copy photographs, army service papers, obituary, and approximately 30 newspaper articles.