The Collection of Medals to the Medical Services formed by Colonel D.G.B. Riddick

Date of Auction: 7th March 2007

Sold for £4,100

Estimate: £2,200 - £2,600

The Great War D.S.O. group of ten awarded to Colonel A. N. Fraser, Royal Army Medical Corps, a recipient of the German Red Cross Order, awarded for tending the wounded from the Deutschland, attacked during the Spanish Civil War

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, complete with top bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 (Pte., Vol. Med. S.C.); 1914-15 Star (Capt., R.A.M.C.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Lt. Col.); India General Service 1908-35, 2 clasps, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919, Waziristan 1921-24 (Maj., R.A.M.C.); War Medal 1939-45 (Colonel); Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937, mounted court style as worn, minor edge bruising and contact marks, contained in Spink, London leather case, the lid fitted with badges of the V.M.S.C. and R.A.M.C.; Germany, Third Reich, Red Cross Order, 1937 issue, 1st Class neck badge, gilt and enamel, with riband bar bearing emblem and neck ribbon, in case of issue, good very fine and better (10) £2200-2600


Alastair Norman Fraser was born at Duirinish, Rosshire on 10 March 1881, the son of Major-General C. A. D. Fraser. Educated at Blair Lodge and Edinburgh University, he qualified as a M.B. and Ch.B. in 1904. He served in the ranks of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps during the Boer War. After qualification he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. in July 1904. Promoted a Captain in January 1908 and a Major in July 1915, he held the rank of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel, July-October 1917 and Acting Lieutenant-Colonel, December 1918-February 1919. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1926 and attained the rank of Colonel in September 1933, being placed on Retired Pay on 2 September 1937. His extensive military service took him to North China, 1905-08; Straits and Settlements, 1912-15 and Egypt, 1915-16. During 1916-18 he was C.O. of the R.A.M.C. Training Centre and Commandant of the R.A.M.C. Officers School of Instruction. Later in 1918 and into 1919 he was C.O. of the 20th Field Ambulance in France. For his wartime services he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 21 June 1916) and awarded the D.S.O. (London Gazette 3 June 1916). He then served in India, 1919-23 and 1926-31.

It was as D.D.M.S. at F.H.Q. Gibraltar, 1933-37, that he came to be awarded the German Red Cross Order for his part in tending the wounded from the German ship
Deutschand. The Deutschland (later renamed Lützow) was officially designated an ‘armoured ship’ or ‘heavy cruiser’ but was actually a light battlecruiser, popularly referred to at the time as a ‘pocket battleship’. During the Spanish Civil War the ship was deployed along the Spanish coast, ostensibly as a part of an international force charged with keeping the sea lanes open but actually supporting Franco and the Spanish ‘Nationalists’. On 29 May 1937, the ship was at anchor off Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, when she was bombed by two ‘Republican’ bombers. The aircraft dropped 12 bombs, two of which hit - one of which hit the unprotected mess quarters in the forward part of the ship causing heavy casualties. Early reports listed 23 dead, 19 severely wounded and 30 plus less seriously wounded. Needing specialist facilities to treat many of the wounded, the ship made for nearby Gibraltar. There the wounded received treatment at the military hospital, and such was the influx of patients during this ‘time of peace’ that a reinforcement party of nurses was summoned to the base. The Germans were appreciative of the help extended and extensively awarded their Red Cross Order to those who gave assistance - Colonel Fraser was one of five officers to be awarded the 1st Class of the Order; presentations being made at Gibraltar by Admiral Carls on 17 August 1937. Although they were not to know it, recipients had but two years during which to wear their German decoration. Colonel Fraser was placed on Retired Pay on 2 September 1937 but rejoined on 1 September 1939. During the Second World War he was A.D.M.S. H.Q. Northumbrian Area, 1939-41 and A.D.M.S. H.Q. Durham and N. Riding County Area, 1941-42. Colonel Fraser reverted to Retired Pay on 1 August 1942 and died on 5 March 1964. Sold with copied research on the recipient, decoration, incident and the state funeral of those killed. For a further recipient of the German Red Cross Order for this incident, see lot 133.