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

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

Sold for £4,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

An Albert Medal Second Class for Sea awarded to Mr. A. J. Cooper, 4th Officer of the S.S. Massilia, for gallantry in rescuing from shark-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden an Indian Lascar who had fallen from the rigging, 8 April 1890 - for this gallant action he was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal and ultimately the Stanhope Gold Medal for the most gallant rescue of 1890. He subsequently lost his life in a courageous attempt to make a similar rescue

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented in the name of Her Majesty to Alfred John Cooper 4th. Officer of the S.S. “Massilia” in recognition of his Gallantry in saving a Lascar from drowning in the Gulf of Aden 8th. April 1890’, reverse of the crown with maker’s cartouché Phillips, Cockspur St., unnumbered, minor enamel chip, therefore good very fine £4000-5000


Provenance: Glendining’s, March 1973.

A.M. London Gazette 9 September 1891:

‘On the morning of 8 April, 1890, when the S.S. Massilia was some 500 miles from Aden, in the Indian Ocean, and Indian seaman fell from the rigging into the water. Mr. Cooper, the 4th Officer, at once ran up on deck, jumped fully clothed overboard into shark-infested waters, swam to the man, and kept him afloat until they were picked up by the ship’s boat.’

Royal Humane Society Case No. 24,825:

‘On the 8th April, 1890, whilst the Steamship Massilia was proceeding from Bombay to London, a lascar fell overboard in the Gulf of Aden. The ship was going at thirteen knots. Mr. Cooper, who was in the saloon at the time, on hearing the cry of man overboard rushed on deck, jumped overboard, swam after the man, seized hold of him, and kept him afloat until a boat was lowered and went to his assistance. The officer encountered serious risk, as he was encumbered with clothes and the native clung to him in the water. The gulf is known to be infested with sharks.’

Alfred John Cooper, ‘second officer of the Peninsular and Oriental steamship Kaiser-i-Hind, who recently lost his life in a courageous attempt to save a drowning Lascar, displayed during his only too brief career an amount of pluck and heroism not often seen even among Stanhope Medallists. In April 1890, while the P. & O. steamship Massilia was on voyage from Bombay to London, a Lascar fell overboard. Cooper was in the saloon at the time, but hearing the cry “A man overboard”, he rushed on deck and swam to the rescue. He succeeded in reaching the man, and supported him till a boat came to his assistance. For this rescue he was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Medal in silver, and ultimately the Stanhope Gold Medal for 1890, and shortly afterwards he added to his laurels by winning the Albert Medal. On the unfortunate occasion which ended with his death, Cooper had gone to save a Lascar who had fallen overboard. A boat was promptly lowered to follow him, but something went wrong. The delay was fatal, and the brave fellow paid the penalty with his life.’ (The Royal Humane Society, Other Stanhope Medallists refers).

Sold together with a photographic image of the recipient wearing his Albert Medal and Royal Humane Society Silver Medal and Stanhope Gold Medal.