Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Royal Engineers Pioneers awarded OBE's?


adam1981
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello

apologies if this is posted in the wrong place.

I am looking for any suggestions or further details on the Sappers and Pioneers (and a Gunner) that were awarded OBE's (Order of British Empire) which appear in the London Gazette 7/7/20 page 7309:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/31967/supplements/7309/page.pdf

These men all have the same citation which reads:

For conspicuous courage in connection
with, very dangerous experimental work in a
poisonous atmosphere, often causing great
physical discomfort and ill-health.
It is very unusual for ordinary ranks to be awarded this order/medal? i assume the award is the civilian version as the other citations are to civilians. I assume the soldiers awards were for service with a Special Company, but possibly in the UK.
these awards are very unusual, unless im mistaken, and possibly unique?
any advise or suggestions would be much appreciated on this one
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suggest Terry Reeves is the man to confirm that the men were involved with experimental work at Porton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses, i always find it confusing as to which order is actually being referred to in the London Gazette. i am hoping to add an original medal to his ww1 group, so it being an MBE is good news as they are cheaper!

I will try and get in touch with Terry Reeves, to see if he can assist.

many thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not an MBE. That is Member of the Order of the British Empire. It's the Medal of the Order. It does not have any post nominal letters, though collectors often refer to it as the MOBE. It is the predecessor of the BEM.

For clarity the Order had five grades: GCBE, KBE, CBE, OBE, MBE. The medal was not classed as part of the Order but a lower award.

NGG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suggest Terry Reeves is the man to confirm that the men were involved with experimental work at Porton.

I have contacted Adam privately, but I can confirm that these men were at Porton. The Royal Engineers had an experimental company there and the Royal Artillery an experimental section.

TR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all for the responses, very interesting. Just to confirm, would this award have been a civil MBE? if yes, would this be the ribbon that is all maroon with no stripes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they were serving at the time and were in uniform then Military Division (it should say in the Gazette). Unfortunately one of these medals will cost you more than an MBE.

The ribbon will be maroon with a central scarlet stripe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to be pedantic but as horatio2 and NGG have already said these were awards of a Medal, not an MBE. The preamble for the award of an MBE would have read something like 'The King has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointments to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire....To be Members of the Civil [or Military] Division of the said Most Excellent Order...'.

In this case the preamble reads...'The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire...'.

A small but significant difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is confusing and actually not easy to find examples on the web but there's one in a group http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20807/lot/190/ also here http://www.worcmedals.com/shop.php?sec=prod∏=1367&product=medal-of-the-order-of-the-british-empire

The medal was instituted in June 1917 and originally had no divisions, being awarded to both civilians and military. In December 1918 a Military Division was created. The original ribbon was purple but on creation of the Military Division the Civil Division retained the original ribbon whilst that of the Military Division had a vertical red stripe in the centre. According to Abbott and Tamplin's book 'British Gallantry Awards' the number of medals issued was 1,987.

Details of the Medal appear in the LG of 24 August 1917 and the creation of the Divisions in the LG of 27 December 1918.

Hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the penny has dropped!

many thanks for clearing this up for me. its a good job i didnt buy an MBE.

I have never seen this medal before with a group of medals and assume i have no chance of getting a real one, however the fact he was awarded the medal and the fact he was working at Porton Down make this a very interesting set of medals. Thanks to everyone for helping me piece this together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being a medal collector myself I see nothing wrong with it for display purposes. Some collectors place lengths of ribbon, or a ribbon bar in place of missing medals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There should not be too much of a problem finding a genuine example - they were issued unnamed. The real problem will be the price. The last one I bought cost in the region of £300.

Norman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is an example of the medal (Civil Division) from my collection. Members of the Military received the same medal but with a vertical red stripe in the middle of the ribbon.

This medal was awarded to Mr John Brightwell of 57 Victoria Street, New Bilton, Rugby. It was awarded for great courage and resource on the occasion of a fire. He made several journeys up an iron ladder in his efforts to put out the fire, though his hands were badly burnt in doing so. (London Gazette 3rd June, 1918).

Sepoy

post-55476-0-95013400-1391458483_thumb.j

post-55476-0-84588500-1391458490_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses and the pics/links, a very interesting medal. I just found an older thread on this website referring to a Sapper Johnstone and his OBE, turns out it was one of these medals also, although for civilian service once discharged.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

I have just come across this thread.

My wife's grandfather, Sgt Frank O'Hanlon, was one of these men awarded the medal of the OBE. He was in the Experimental Battery of the RFA at Porton. I have a letter dated 19/01/21 inviting him to attend The Lord Lieutenant of London, the Most Hon. Marquess of Crewe K. G. at County Hall, London on 21st January to receive the medal. Unfortunately he died on the 26th and I do not know if he ever made it to the ceremony. The cause of death was "congestion of the lungs". The family story is that he was gassed in the war and never recovered - eventually dying of its effects, although his widow apparently had quite a battle to obtain a widow's army pension.

The interesting bit is that the family did not seem to appreciate the significance of his time at Porton - was he gassed there or had it occurred in France and he went to Porton afterwards?. I am trying (rather unsuccessfully) to find out. Does anyone know the story of any others in this group at Porton 1916-18/

Unfortunately if he did get the medal it is no longer in the family's possession.

Rob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...