Life Saving Awards from the Collection of John Wilson

Date of Auction: 25th March 2013

Sold for £460

Estimate: £350 - £400

Pair: Sergeant Edward Charles Ayres, Manchester Police

Police Long Service, E.II.R., 1st issue (Sergt. Edward C. Ayres) in named card box of issue; Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, 5th type, bronze (Pol. Sgt. Edward Ayres, Manchester. 6-6-1943) with ‘Wartime Bar’, ‘Pol. Sgt. Edward Ayres, Manchester, 6th June, 1943’, with silver buckle on ribbon, second with slight edge bruising, nearly extremely fine (2)


Ex W. H. Fevyer Collection, D.N.W. 25 September 2008.

Report presented to the Watch Committee Meeting of Manchester Council, 17 February 1944

‘About 7.45 p.m. on the 6th June, 1943, Sergeant Ayres was on duty in Mill Street, Ancoats, when he saw large volumes of smoke coming from the dwelling house, 55, Canning Street, Ancoats. A large crowd of people was gathered outside the house, and Sergeant Ayres was informed that there was a baby trapped in the house.

Disregarding the flames and smoke which were issuing from the front windows, both upstairs and downstairs, Sergeant Ayres made several attempts to enter the house, but owing to the excessive heat, he was unable to do so. He then threw several buckets of water on to the flames near the front door, and tying a piece of white cloth around his face and mouth, he again entered the house on his knees and crawled into the back kitchen which was by then burning furiously. When he entered the room, he saw in one corner a cot which was a mass of flames, but he was unable to reach it.

Sergeant Ayres then obtained a ladder and entered the front bedroom in an attempt to get the child from upstairs, but owing to the excessive heat and smoke, he was again driven back. By this time, the National Fire Service had arrived and Sergeant Ayres was taken to hospital for medical treatment to his eyes. The body of the child, whom Sergeant Ayres attempted to save, was eventually located in the debris of the badly damaged kitchen.

Tributes to the gallantry shown by Sergeant Ayres were paid by the City Coroner and the Fire Force Commander, and many witnesses of his brave action volunteered statements. The Chief Constable reported the facts to the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, who have awarded Sergeant Ayres their Bronze Medal. The Chief Constable has pleasure in asking the Chairman to make the presentation of the Clasp and Ribbon to Sergeant Ayres.

The Medal itself cannot be manufactured until after the cessation of hostilities owing to Wartime metal restrictions.’

Case 17,520. Police Sergeant Ayres bravery resulted in the award of the Bronze Medal from the S.P.L.F. However, with wartime restrictions he was only presented with ribbon and a ‘wartime bar’. After the war he obtained the Bronze Medal.

With some copied research. For another ‘Wartime Bar’ see lot 588.