Medals from the Collection of David Lloyd

Date of Auction: 17th February 2021

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

The unique Great War ‘Western Front’ M.C. and ‘Faversham Explosion’ Edward Medal group of twelve awarded to Honorary Brigadier J. M. Stebbings, Royal Artillery, who was taken Prisoner of War at Tobruk in 1942

Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; Edward Medal (Industry), G.V.R., 1st issue, with 2nd type reverse, bronze (Lieut. John Morley Stebbings.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Capt. J. M. Stebbings.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf; Coronation 1937, unnamed as issued; Coronation 1953, unnamed as issued; Efficiency Decoration, Territorial, G.V.R., with Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Award Bars, all E.II.R., very fine or better (12) £4,000-£5,000

Footnote

Only nine Edward Medals were awarded to Army personnel, of whom only Stebbings received the Military Cross.

M.C. London Gazette 3 June 1919.

E.M. London Gazette 22 January 1918.
The recommendation states: ‘I assumed command of the Battery (2/13th Lancashire Battery, now ‘C’ Battery, 293rd Army Brigade, R.F.A.) about six days before the incident. I followed Lieutenant (then 2nd Lieutenant) J. M. Stebbings, R.F.A., with a further relief party and arrived at the scene of the explosion 20 minutes later and after the second explosion. I found him and his party hard at work rescuing the wounded and under conditions which were even then very dangerous. I can myself most fully endorse Lieutenant Stebbings’ report on the work of these eight men, and all of them have since done splendid work out here in France on other occasions. As regards Lieutenant Stebbings himself, this Officer was undoubtedly the leading spirit in the rescue and, as I myself saw, he behaved with great courage, leading the men into the flames amongst the many minor explosions which followed the second large explosion, to rescue the injured at great personal risk. I recommend him very strongly for reward. Since then, out here in France, he has on many occasions shown the same courage and has never failed to risk his life when occasion has demanded and has proved himself in all respects a first class Officer’.


John Morley Stebbings was born in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield, Yorkshire, in July 1890, and by the outbreak of the Great War was living in Ramsgate, Kent. Following the outbreak of the Great War he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Territorial Force on 12 May 1915, for service with the Royal Field Artillery. Posted near to Faversham in Kent, Stebbings was awarded his Edward Medal for his gallantry during the horrific explosion at the Explosion Loading Company’s Works at Faversham on 2 April 1916, an incident that incurred heavy loss of life. Subsequently sent out to France in January 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross for his services with C/293rd Army Brigade, R.F.A., and was Mentioned in Despatches by Sir Douglas Haig (London Gazette 21 May 1918). Invested with his Edward Medal at Buckingham Palace in July 1919, Stebbings maintained his links with the Territorials and was awarded his Efficiency Decoration while serving in the 59th (Home Counties) Field Brigade, R.A. (London Gazette 13.8.1935).

Posted overseas with the 89th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.A., on the renewal of hostilities, Stebbings was Mentioned in Despatches for his services in the Middle East between July and October 1941 (London Gazette 16 April 1942) but, like many thousands of others, was taken Prisoner of War at Tobruk. Interned in Italy he somehow found his way to the Vatican City, from where he was repatriated in the final year of the War.

On the re-formation of the Territorial Army in 1947, Stebbings was appointed Joint Honorary Colonel of the 489 Heavy Artillery Brigade at Ramsgate, an appointment he held jointly with Sir Winston Churchill, in his capacity of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Advanced Honorary Brigadier, he was subsequently awarded four Additional Award Bars to this Efficiency Decoration (all London Gazette 16 March 1962). A Deputy Lieutenant for Kent from July 1957, he died at Ramsgate on 2 November 1966.

Sold with comprehensive copied research including extensive official reports on the Faversham Explosion.