Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 July 2019)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019

Sold for £600

Estimate: £400 - £500

An inter-War O.B.E. pair awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. White, late Wing Commander, Royal Air Force, late District Commissioner for Zanzibar and Provincial Commissioner for Tanganyika

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Civil) Officer’s 1st type breast badge, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1919; Zanzibar, Order of the Brilliant Star, Sultan Ali II bin Hamud issue (1902-11) Officer’s breast badge, silver-gilt, gold and enamel, mounted as worn, good very fine (2) £400-£500


Provenance: Brigadier C. Parritt Collection, Dix Noonan Webb, June 2007.

Alexander Harold White was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on 25 July 1889, the son of a British father and a French mother. He was educated at The College, Harlow, Essex, 1902-07 and privately tutored in London, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Egypt. As a result of these travels he was fluent in French, Italian, Spanish, Kiswahili and German and had a fair knowledge of Arabic. In 1909 he went to Spain and joined the Corunna Salvage Company. Whilst there, in an honorary capacity he was attached to H.B.M. Consulate at Corunna, 1909-11. Joining the Foreign Office, he then served in Zanzibar and was employed as an Assistant Collector in the service of the Sultan. In 1914 he was transferred to the Colonial Office and continued to hold various posts as District Commissioner in Zanzibar. In 1919 he was awarded the Order of the Brilliant Star by Sultan Khalifa bin Harub for his services to the country. Later that year he was transferred to Tanganyika and held posts in the Secretariat as Magistrate and Provincial Commissioner. During 1922-24 he was placed on special duty as British Commissioner in charge of the British section of the Anglo-Belgian boundary commission in Ruanda-Urundi. For his work on the Boundary Commission he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1924. He retired from the Colonial Office but not from active life in 1934.

In June 1938 White joined the Auxiliary Air Force (London Balloon Barrage) and in September 1940 was commissioned into the R.A.F.V.R. from the rank, and in 1941 was promoted to Wing Commander. He was then seconded to the R.A.F. to H.Q. Middle East Command as the Senior Political Officer in Asmara, Eritrea. For his work there, he was mentioned in despatches. In January 1943 he moved across to the 8th Army and became the senior Government Official in charge of the newly captured city of Tripoli and the province of Tripolitania. During June-September 1943 he was seconded to the Directive Staff for Civil Affairs at the Staff College, where he lectured on Military Government. It was at this time that he was transferred from the R.A.F. to become a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army. During 1943-45 he was Provincial Commissioner and Executive Officer A.M.G./A.C.C. Italy, in Avellino, Naples, Benevento and Milan. In Milan his brief was responsibility for policy regarding ‘Partisans and Patriots’. During the period 1946-50 he was on temporary appointment with the Foreign Office, employed at the British Embassy at Rome, with the Property Adviser’s Staff, attached to H.B.M. Consulate, Florence, as Executive Property Officer and Adviser on War Claims against the Italian Government for war damages. White retired for the second time in October 1950. An accomplished sportsman, he swam and played football, cricket, tennis, golf and curling; in his youth playing football for Galicia, Spain.

Sold with original Central Chancery O.B.E. forwarding letter, dated 29 December 1924; also with copied letter and extract from the Zanzibar Gazette bestowing the Order of the Brilliant Star in 1919 and a Personal Record of Service.