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

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

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A scarce and early Albert Medal Second Class awarded to Mr. J. Batist, Boatman, Dymchurch Coast Guard Station, for gallantry in saving the life of the sole survivor from the wreck of the Courier de Dieppe, off the coast of at Dymchurch, Kent, on 6 January 1867

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, bronze and enamel, reverse officially engraved ‘Wreck of Courrier de Dieppe 6th. Jany. 1867 Presented in the name of Her Majesty to John Batist’, reverse of the crown with maker’s cartouché Phillips, Cockspur St., and officially numbered ‘No. 7’, with original narrow riband, and top silver riband buckle, nearly extremely fine £4000-5000


Provenance: Hayward’s Gazette, October 1974.

A.M. London Gazette 7 June 1867 (in a joint citation with the Rev. Charles Cobb, Rector of Dymchurch [awarded the Albert Medal First Class]):

‘The French lugger Courier de Dieppe, of 59 tons, with a crew of four persons in all, drove ashore at Dymchurch, Kent, on the morning of Sunday, January 6, 1867. On the evening of January 5, a strong gale of wind arose, the weather became tempestuous, and the vessel was found to be on the English coast. The next morning the master failed to get assistance, and ran the vessel ashore. Attempts made to reach her by means of the Mortar Apparatus were unsuccessful; and the master, a cabin boy, and a seaman were washed overboard and drowned. Soon the vessel parted, and the portion upon which the mate, the only survivor of the crew, had taken refuge, was driven within 50 or 60 feet of the shore. John Batist, a Boatman at the Coast Guard Station at Dymchurch, clad in a cork jacket, and having a line attached to him, attempted to reach the vessel, but failed and was dragged ashore. The Rev. Charles Cobb, Rector of Dymchurch, then rushed into the water, made for the bulwarks of the vessel, and, after one or two ineffectual attempts, reached the survivor, who was in the rigging; Batist followed, and with a line, which he carried with him, the French sailor was dragged ashore, supported by Mr. Cobb and Batist. Mr. Cobb made this attempt in spite of the remonstrances of the people on the spot, and declined their assistance by refusing to take a line with him. It was blowing a strong gale from the south by east, and a heavy sea was running at the time.’

Royal National Lifeboat Institution Silver Medal: ‘On 6 January 1867, the 59 ton Dieppe lugger Courier de Dieppe, with four persons on board, was driven ashore in a strong gale at Dymchurch, Kent. She had got into difficulties off the English coast the previous day and, failing to get help, her Master had run her onto the beach. Unfortunately the vessels position was such that rocket apparatus failed to reach her. The Master, a seaman and a boy were washed overboard and drowned, leaving the Mate in the rigging. Wearing a cork life jacket attached to a rope, Mr. Batist tried to reach him, but had to be pulled back through the surf. The Rector, the Reverend Charles Cobb, M.A., then rushed into the water and, after one or two ineffectual attempts, reached the survivor. Mr. Batist followed him with a line and, between them, they brought the Mate safely ashore.’

John Batist was employed as a Boatman at Dymchurch Coast Guard Station at the time of his gallant act, for which he was awarded both the Albert Medal Second Class and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution silver Medal. The Reverend Charles Cobb, the vicar of Dymchurch, who was awarded the Albert Medal First Class, and was also presented with a Medal by the Emperor of France, was on his way to perform Divine Service at the local Church when he stopped to perform his mission of mercy. The road leading down to the beach nearest to where this act of gallantry was performed was subsequently renamed Charles Cobb Way.

Note: The Albert Medal for saving life at Sea was instituted initially as a single class Decoration in March 1866, and awarded only once. It was expanded to two classes in April 1867, and the first six awards (three First Class and three Second Class - including that to John Batist) of the new decoration, numbered 2 to 7 on the official roll, were Gazetted on 7 June 1867. Batist’s Albert Medal was one of seven First Class and eighteen Second Class Albert Medals for saving life at Sea awarded before the statutes for the Medal were further expanded to incorporate a ‘for Land’ category in April 1877.

Sold together with a photographic image of the recipient.