The Julian Johnson Collection

Date of Auction: 10th May 2017

Sold for £900

Estimate: £600 - £800

A Great War 1917 ‘Battle of Cambrai’ M.M. and 1918 ‘German Spring Offensive’ Second Award Bar to Private F. Ambler, 1/4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, who after a distinguished wartime career, deserted 11 November 1918, and forfeited his his Great War campaign medals

Military Medal, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar (242254 Pte. F. Ambler. 1/4 Gord: Hdrs - T.F.) very fine £600-800


M.M. London Gazette 23 February 1918.

M.M. Second Award Bar London Gazette 7 October 1918.

Frank Ambler was a native of Manchester. He served during the Great War with the 1/4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders on the Western Front. He was awarded the M.M. for gallantry displayed on 21 November 1917, and on the latter date the Battalion were engaged in the Battle of Cambrai. The Battalion War Diary gives the following for the attack on the village of Caintaing:

‘Assembled in position along Railway Line and remained there till 8am when information was received that Flesquieres had fallen and we could advance.... Start at 8.30am... Advance commenced in Artillery Formation of Platoons and was continued till 300 yards short of Sunken Road from Graincourt to Marcoing where 5th Seaforth Highrs. and 8th A. & S. Highrs. were holding outposts..... Wire and trenches were much more formidable than expected.

No casualties or no shelling up to this stage.... Attack was ordered for 10.30am... At 10.05am message arrived stating tanks would assist and at 10.10am. None were in sight at 10.12am. Two guns of ‘C’ Battery, 70th Brigade, R.F.A. arrived and took up position... opened fire and did very good execution. At 10.30am no tanks in sight and attack commenced. Enemy withheld fire till waves were well on move and then opened with 4 or 6 M.G.s in trench and two in high buildings. Fire was also opened from Light Trench Mortars. A sharp encounter started.

‘C’ Company which was to work round right of village was the only company to get any way ahead. ‘D’ Company completely held up. Heavy casualties were incurred here... sniping from buildings was very accurate.... Tanks appeared in sight from Premy Chapel and entered East end of the village at 12.35pm followed by infantry. ‘A’ Company was ordered to follow the tanks. Heavy fighting then took place in the streets but the village was all cleared by 1pm except a strong pocket from Cantaing Road... which held out till 3pm. Trench mortars were then ordered up but did not manage to clear up the pocket. This was eventually done by a tank. The three companies involved in the fight had, by the time the village was cleared, become disorganised.... In all about 300 prisoners were captured.’

The 1/4th Battalion suffered casualties of two officers and 16 other ranks killed, 76 other ranks wounded and 60 missing during the attack on Caintaing.

Ambler was awarded the Second Award Bar to his M.M. for gallantry displayed on 9 April 1918. On the later date the Battalion were engaged in the Battle of Lys, at Auchel, at the start of the German Spring Offensive. He deserted on the day that the Armistice was signed, and his M.I.C. gives the following, ‘Deserted 11.11.1918. Disc. Misconduct. Forfeits [Campaign] Medals’.

Sold with two Divisional Commander’s named certificates of congratulation for gallantry on active service and a Corps Commander’s named certificate relating to the M.M. Second Award Bar.