1 December 2004
Pair: Carpenter Lieutenant J. Attrill, Royal Navy
Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, 1 clasp, Alexandria 11th July (Sh. Carps. Mate, H.M.S. Inflexible); Khedive’s Star 1882, minor contact marks, very fine and better (2) £180-220
This lot was sold as part of a special collection, Medals for Services at Sea from the Collection of the Late Oliver Stirling Lee.
James Attrill was born at Teignmouth, Devon in July 1853 and entered the Royal Navy as Carpenters Crew in January 1873. His subsequent stints of active service comprised time aboard H.M.S. Inflexible in the Egypt operations of 1882, when he was specially promoted for his ‘services rendered at Alexandria’ (service record refers), and extensive employment in the China 1900 operations when serving as Carpenter aboard the Centurion. During the latter conflict he participated in the relief of Pekin operations and was mentioned in despatches by Admiral Seymour in the following terms:
‘Mr. Attrill has been with the expedition towards Pekin and at Tientsin, and showed great zeal and energy, first working hard at repairs to railways; secondly in the mounting of guns. He has been very often under fire.’
It would seem Attrill won similar approbation for his part in assisting to refloat the Bonaventure, a contemporary article in The Naval Warrant Officers’ Journal reporting:
‘This is the second time Mr. Attrill has performed this kind of service to stranded ships during his present commission. Being an old mechanical diver this officer was able to put on the dress and go underwater to examine and report on the amount of mischief, by means of a sketch.’
Once again, his service papers note that he was specially promoted, on this occasion to Chief Carpenter, and he received his China Medal and clasp from the hands of King Edward VII at Devonport Barracks in March 1902. And in September 1904, Attrill became one of the first batch of men to be commissioned in the rank of Carpenter Lieutenant. Placed on the Retired List in July 1908, he became an Inspector of Shipping in the Transport Department, but died in December 1912, aged 60 years.