Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (10 & 11 May 2017)
Date of Auction: 10th & 11th May 2017
Sold for £11,000
Estimate: £12,000 - £15,000
Distinguished Service Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued, in Garrard, London, case of issue; Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented by His Majesty to Lieutenant Edward Henry Richardson R.N.R. for Gallantry in saving life from the burning S.S. “Earl of Forfar” after the explosion at Bakaritsa on the 8th November 1916.’, in case of issue; British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Lieut. E. H. Richardson. R.N.R.); Russia, Order of St. Stanislas, 3rd Class breast badge, with Swords, 39mm, gold (56 zolotniki) and enamel, with gold marks and indistinct maker’s mark to reverse; Russia, Order of St. Anne, 3rd Class breast badge, by Eduard, St. Petersburg, 36mm, gold (56 zolotniki) and enamel, gold marks and maker’s mark to reverse, blue enamel damage to AM, otherwise nearly extremely fine (6) £12000-15000
FootnoteD.S.C. London Gazette 12 December 1918:
‘He showed courage and enterprise of a high order as commanding officer of the Gunboat Advokat during the Dvina operations.’
A.M. London Gazette 9 July 1918 (in a joint citation with Captain G. P. Bevan, C.M.G., D.S.O.; 2nd Engineer C. Watson; and Able Seamen J. D. Henry and M. Thompson):
‘On the 8th November, 1916, a series of fires and explosions occurred at Bakaritsa, Port of Archangel, on merchant ships and on the wharves. The S.S. Baron Driesen had blown up at 1 p.m. and part of the S.S. Earl of Forfar forty minutes later. The latter ship, with a cargo of explosives, was on fire, and might have blown up at any moment, and explosions were continually taking place in the immediate vicinity. The ship was alongside the main fire on shore, and burning embers were constantly showered over her. She had a cargo of explosives on board and was abreast of the main conflagration. The flames were blown towards her by the wind, and the remaining portion of the ship was expected to be blown up at any moment. Captain Bevan, however, on hearing the cries proceeded on board, accompanied by Lieutenant-Commander MacMahon, and, hearing moans from under the smouldering debris of the forecastle, cleared away the wreckage and extricated the mate, who had an arm and a leg and his collarbone broken, and passed him into a tug.
Lieutenant Richardson, 2nd Engineer Watson, and Able Seamen Henry and Thompson, of the Tug Sunderland, volunteered to board the Earl of Forfar and affected the rescue of a considerable number of wounded and helpless men who would otherwise have perished. They displayed the utmost gallantry and disregard of their own personal safety in saving the lives of others.’
M.I.D. London Gazette 8 July 1920:
‘For good services during Naval Operations in North Russia, 1918.’
Edward Henry Richardson was born at South Shields, Co. Durham, on 5 March 1885, and was indentured as an apprentice for four years to the Stag Line Limited on 8 September 1900 to learn seamanship. He received his certificate as Master for foreign-going steamships on 25 May 1912, and served during the Great War in the Royal Naval Reserve. Posted to the Province of Archangel, it was whilst unloading munitions destined for the Russian front that, ‘disaster struck on 8 November 1916 at Bakarista, Port of Archangel, North Russia when the merchant ship S.S. Baron Driesen blew up at 1.00 p.m. Desperate attempts were made to move other ships away but at 1.40 p.m. the after part of S.S. Earl of Forfar also exploded. Before that ship’s master, Captain James Campbell Hurry, tried to return to his vessel but, being unable to do so, helped other vessels in danger of being burned. While doing so he heard voices coming from his own ship which was burning and exploding furiously so he led volunteers aboard and saved several men, having to lift live shells as he went. Ten minutes later the deck blew up. The ship was a mass of flame and burning embers from fires blazing ashore were being showered on her. A one-hundred-ton floating crane was moored between the quay and the ship and, after dark, cries were heard coming from the crane. To reach it, it was necessary to cross the ship which had a cargo of explosives aboard but, as Captain George Parker Bevan and Lieutenant-Commander Maurice McMahon were doing so they heard moans coming from under the smouldering debris of the forecastle. Helped by the crew of the tug Sunderland Lieutenant Edward Henry Richardson, Second Engineer Christopher Watson and Able Seamen James Dixon Henry and Malcolm Thompson, all of whom had volunteered, they set about extricating the casualty. Ignoring the intermittent explosions from small arms ammunition they cleared away the wreckage and freed the mate of the Earl of Forfar - his arm, leg and collar bone broken - and passed him to the tug. Lieutenant-Commander McMahon then crossed to the crane on a single plank and finding the ship’s carpenter under the crane together with two Russian members of its crew rescued them all.’ (Heroic Endeavour, by D.V. Henderson, G.M., refers).
Promoted Lieutenant-Commander, Richardson was appointed commanding officer of the Russian Gunboat Advokat in 1918, one of three paddle-steamers each armed with a 12-pounder and a pom-pom that formed the bulk of the Anglo-Russian Naval Brigade in North Russia, under the command of Commander P. H. Edwards. He participated in operations up river on the Dvina, including engagements at Bereznik, Troitsa, Borka and Chamovo, and took part in defensive skirmishes when Bolshevik gunboats sometimes ventured down river, but was later hit by shore batteries. However, with the advent of winter, and the arrival of ice, the flotilla was withdrawn in November 1918, and for his services Richardson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and also awarded the Russian Order of St. Stanislas 2nd Class, with Swords.
Richardson was presented with his Albert Medal, together with his Distinguished Service Cross, by H.M. King George V at Buckingham Palace on 17 May 1919. He subsequently served as a transport officer 3rd grade in H.M.S. President.
Note: At the time of the award of Richardson’s Russian awards, the production and supply of Russian Orders, following the Bolshevik uprising, was severely disrupted, and consequently were often hard to obtain. As a result, Imperial Russian Awards to British servicemen during the latter half of the Great War and Allied Intervention are sometimes numismatically incorrect or incomplete, as insignia was issued with what was available. Whilst it is recorded that Richardson was awarded the Russian Order of St. Stanislas 2nd Class, with Swords, there is no record of him being formally awarded the Russian Order of St. Anne.
Sold together with the recipient’s passport, given at Odessa on 30 August 1915, mounted in a glazed display frame, the recipient’s Ordinary Apprentice’s Indenture Certificate, dated 8 September 1900 the recipient’s Certificate of Competency as Master for foreign-going steamships, dated 25 May 1912; Quadrangle Pass for an Investiture at Buckingham Palace on 17 May 1919; and a newspaper cutting containing a photograph of the recipient.