The Langham Collection of Medals to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps

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Date of Auction: 17th September 1999

Sold for £150

Estimate: £120 - £140

A Second World War B.E.M. awarded to Private J. K. Martin, Royal Army Ordnance Corps

British Empire Medal (Military) G.VI.R. (10546472 Pte. John K. Martin, R.A.O.C.) mounted on original Investiture pin, good very fine £120-140


Sergeant William Reid, Private John Kellan Martin, and Private Ernest Hilton, 3 B.A.D., Royal Army Ordnance Corps

‘On 24th March, 1945, a series of violent explosions occurred at Depot de Munitions, 3 B.A.D. igniting fires throughout the magazine areas and seriously endangering some 6,000 tons of bulk and demolition explosives stored therein. Immediately after the first explosion, Sgt. Reid rushed his Fire Brigade to a magazine containing burning picric powder and organised the setting up of the Trailer Fire Pump and the running out of the hoses. Knowing full well that the explosive was liable to detonate at any moment, and in spite of the explosions which were continuing in the area, Sgt. Reid by his initiative and cool example succeeded in establishing his pump and bringing his hose to within 30 yards of the burning picric. Unfortunately before water could be brought to play, the complete contents of the magazine detonated, injuring all the men of the fire team and damaging the fire equipment. Although suffering from shock and injured himself, Sgt. Reid arranged and assisted in the evacuation of his injured men before permitting medical attention to his own injuries.

Private Hilton was coupling the last length of hose and Private Martin commenced running it out, when before he could take a dozen steps, the detonation occurred, destroying the whole magazine and injuring Ptes. Martin and Hilton. Although suffering from shock and injuries, Pte. Martin refused all medical attention and continued fighting the fires in the Depot for a further sixty minutes, until the situation was under control. The men displayed courage of the highest order and their personal disregard for danger and devotion to duty were an inspiration and example to all.’