Medals from the Rob Campbell Collection relating to Clevedon, Somerset

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Date of Auction: 5th December 2018

Sold for £2,400

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,400

A well-documented Great War ‘Balkans operations’ C.M.G., ‘Western Front’ D.S.O. group of seven awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel P. G. Fry, 2nd Wessex Field Company, Royal Engineers (Territorial Force), who was four times Mentioned in Despatches, including twice for Salonika

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, in Garrard & Co. Ltd case of issue; Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; 1914-15 Star (Major P. G. Fry, R.E.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Lt. Col. P. G. Fry.); Territorial Decoration, G.V.R., silver and silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1919, with integral top riband bar; Serbia, Order of the White Eagle, 4th Class breast badge, with Swords, silver-gilt and enamels, lacking rosette on riband, in Arthus Bertrand case of issue, white enamel damage to obverse centre, British breast awards mounted as originally worn, by J. R. Gaunt & Son Ltd, including riband for Serbian award, with seven mounted as worn related miniature awards, nearly extremely fine, unless otherwise stated (7) £2,000-£2,400

Footnote

C.M.G. London Gazette 3 June 1919:

‘For services rendered in connection with Military Operations in the Balkans.’

D.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1916.

T.D. London Gazette 15 July 1919.

Serbia, Order of the White Eagle, 4th Class, with Swords London Gazette 16 January 1920.

M.I.D. London Gazette 22 June 1915; 1 January 1916; 21 July 1917 (Salonika) and 5 June 1919 (Salonika).

Peter George Fry was born in Wells, Somerset, in 3 June 1875. He was the son of a Corn Dealer, and served in the ranks of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion (P.A.) Somerset Light Infantry from February 1900, and in the 1st Devon and Somerset Royal Engineers Volunteers from March 1902. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the latter unit, 12 March 1902, and advanced to Captain in March 1906. Fry transferred to the Wessex Divisional Engineers on the Formation of the Territorial Force, and was promoted Major in March 1913. Prior to the Great War he was employed as an Architect and Surveyor in Weston-Super-Mare.

Fry served during the Great War with the 2nd Wessex Field Company, Royal Engineers (T.F.) as part of the 27th Division in the French theatre of war 21 December 1914 - 3 July 1917. Part of a letter he wrote from the front was published in the Weston Gazette 23 January 1915:

‘It is a queer sensation, walking along behind the trenches, with the Germans only a few yards off potting away merrily, but I try to be cool, and pray to Him to help me to do my duty and bring me back safely. Once in the trenches, one feels quite safe and at home, and the German bullets go very high and wide. The scenes of devastation are too terrible, and the villages are absolutely masses of ruins. If those at home could realise it, not one man would remain behind who is capable of doing any good here.’

Fry advanced to Acting Lieutenant-Colonel in July 1917, and was posted for service at H.Q. 22nd Divisional R.E. in Salonika (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 3 June 1918). He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in June 1918, and was discharged in February 1919. Fry’s obituary gives the following details:

‘The Army had always exercised a great fascination for the deceased... He took his duties seriously and was very keen on the work, so that when war broke out - he then held the rank of Major - there is no doubt that the 2nd Wessex were one of the most efficient units of the Territorial Engineers. This was realised when, before the expiration of 1914, the two companies were selected to accompany the 27th Division to France. For twelve months they were in the thick of the fighting on the Western Front. At Ypres, Bois Grenier and further south they did their work with the efficiency of regular soldiers, although many of them were little more than boys, and unfortunately they sustained a large number of casualties, including gallant Captain Bruce Wills.

About a year after they went to France the Division was transferred to Salonika, and it was on the Struma front, with its appallingly trying climate, that the remainder of the active period of the war was spent. After the Armistice the regiment found themselves in Batum, in the Russian Caucasus, until they were brought home for demobilisation. Throughout the whole of this time Col. Fry was with the Division, for a considerable time in command of the Engineer units.’

Fry was appointed Military Member of the Somerset T.F. Association in June 1919, and returned to run his firm Fry, Paterson and Jones. He was a Fellow of the Royal Association of British Architects, and a Freemason. Fry resided at Woodford, All Sands Road, Weston-Super-Mare, and ‘for a number of years he had acted as Hon. Secretary of the Weston-super-Mare Schools of Science and Art, and that successful institution, as well as hundreds of students who came within the scope of his operations, had much for which to thank him. He was also a valued member of the congregation of the Parish Church in this town [Weston-super-Mare].

Of his professional abilities there are many tangible evidences in our town - including the Church of St. Paul and the War Memorial in the graveyard of the parish church.’ (Obituary included in the lot refers)

Lieutenant-Colonel Fry died in October 1925, and is buried in Wells.

Sold with the following related items and documents: Garrard & Co. Ltd cases of issue for the D.S.O. and T.D.; Bestowal Document for the C.M.G., dated 3 June 1919, with a copy of the Statutes and a Central Chancery enclosure letter; Bestowal Document for the D.S.O., dated 1 January 1916, with a copy of the Statutes; four M.I.D. Certificates, dated 31 May 1915, 30 November 1915, 29 March 1917 and 9 March 1919; 27th Division Commendation; recipient’s original recommendation for Command and Staff Appointments, dated 26 January 1919; letter of congratulations from the Town Clerk’s Office, Wells, Somerset, dated 26 January 1916; two Investiture tickets for Buckingham Palace, dated 17 May 1919; two Investiture tickets for Buckingham Palace, dated 17 March 1920; pencil sketch of recipient, dated 1924, with riband bar affixed to the paper; newspaper cuttings, other ephemera and extensive copied research.

For the medals awarded to the recipient’s son, Commander P. K. L. Fry, see Lot 671.