Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (28 February & 1 March 2018)

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Date of Auction: 28th February & 1st March 2018

Sold for £650

Estimate: £700 - £900

A Second War 1941 ‘Belfast Blitz’ M.B.E., Order of St. John group of five awarded to Divisional Superintendent J. Shaw, St. John Ambulance Brigade, Belfast

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Civil) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, silver; The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Serving Brother’s breast badge, silver and enamel, retaining pin additionally affixed to reverse; British War and Mercantile Marine War Medals (John Shaw); Defence Medal; together with the recipient’s Loyal Orange Lodge No. 631 Past Master’s Badge, bronze, the reverse engraved ‘Presented to Bro. John Shaw. P.M. by Officers & Members of L.O.L. 631, Jan. 1940.’, good very fine (6) £700-900

Footnote

M.B.E. London Gazette 3 July 1942:
‘During an enemy air attack Mr. Shaw manned all the First Aid Posts of an important building with members of his Division and took over the supervision of all the St. John Ambulance men available. He saw that all casualties were properly attended to, treating the more seriously injured himself, after which he had them removed to the First Aid Post and thence to hospital. Although high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropping for almost five hours, Mr. Shaw moved round the workshops with the greatest calmness and courage. His bravery and capable handling of the situation brought confidence and courage to all the employees in the building and by his efforts many lives were saved.’


The original recommendation states: ‘On the night of 4th-5th May, 1941, an exceptionally heavy Enemy Air attack was made on Belfast Electric Power Station where Mr. John Shaw is employed. Directly the attack developed, Mr. Shaw manned all the First Aid Posts with members of his Division and taking over the supervision of all the St. John Ambulance men available He saw that all casualties were properly attended to, treating the more seriously injured himself, after which he had them removed to the First Aid Post and thence to hospital. With High Explosive and Incendiary Bombs crashing continuously all over the Power Station for almost five hours, Mr. Shaw moved round the Workshops with the greatest calmness and courage. His bravery and capable handling of the situation brought confidence and courage to all the employees in the building, preventing any semblance of panic, which no doubt contributed to the comparatively small number of casualties. It is considered that Mr. Shaw’s example was the means of saving many lives.’

An eyewitness to the incident, Mr. J. A. Chambers, D.C.M., a fellow employee at the Power Station, gave the following statement: ‘Directly the enemy attack started Mr. Shaw had the First Aid Posts manned by four of his St. John Ambulance men, and he himself went through the works with the remainder of his men attending to the casualties and conveying those who could be moved on stretchers to the First Aid Post and thence to Hospital. Although bombs practically rained down on the Station for some hours, Mr. Shaw went round as calmly as if on his ordinary rounds of the works, instructing his men to treat cases and attending to some of the most seriously injured himself. One particularly bad case had both arms broken and a head wound from which blood squirted almost to the ceiling every beat of the heart. Mr. Shaw dealt promptly with this case by first arresting the bleeding then attending to the fractures and removing him to hospital, and I understand that the Surgeon who attended this patient told him that the First Aid man who attended had certainly saved his life by his prompt action. There were two members of the staff killed and eight seriously injured in this raid in addition to some minor injuries. Two of the St. John men were amongst the injured. Mr. Shaw seemed to have a charmed life and it would be impossible for me to properly describe the confidence and courage his cool and capable handling of the situation instilled into all of the employees at the Power Station.’

John Shaw was born in Belfast, Armagh, Ireland, in 1895, and at the time of his act of gallantry was employed as an Electrical Foreman at the Belfast Electric Power Station, as well as being the Divisional Superintendent of the Electricity Department (Harbour Power Station) Ambulance Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade.

Sold together with a copy of the Book The Belfast Blitz, by Stephen Douds; a copy of the Book The Belfast Blitz, by Sean McMahon; and various copied research.