Special Collections

Sold on 6 July 2004

1 part


Prize, Training Ship, Nursing & Other Medals from the James N. Spencer Collection

James N Spencer

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№ 925


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

Royal Engineers Armstrong Memorial Prize Medal 1902, by F. Bowcher, obverse: bust of Armstrong facing left, ‘Co. R. Y. Armstrong, C.B., Royal Engineers’; reverse: a hand thrust upwards from a mural crown grasping winged thunderbolts and lightning, ‘Armstrong Memorial Prize’ (Gentleman Cadet W. F. Anderson, 1925), 57mm., silver, extremely fine £100-140

Colonel R. Y. Armstrong, C.B., F.R.S., joined the Corps in 1858, retired in 1892 and died two years later. He contributed greatly in the development of signalling and submarine mining services, and was in succession, Instructor in Telegraphy at Chatham, 1875-83 and Inspector of Submarine Defences at the War Office, 1884-91. A memorial to the Colonel was founded by the Corps in 1899. The memorial took the form of a silver medal, awarded to the cadet in each batch at the Royal Military Academy, who showed the greatest proficiency in Electricity and a watch or other present, given to the best N.C.O. in the course for Military Mechanist Electricians.

William Faithful Anderson was born on 17 June 1905. Entering the Royal Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1925, he took a Mechanical Sciences Tripos at Cambridge, gaining a First Class B.A. Honours Degree in 1927. That same year he was promoted Lieutenant. He served on the N.W. Frontier of India during 1930-31 for which he was awarded the I.G.S. medal and clasp. Promoted Captain in 1936, he was again on the N.W. Frontier during 1936-37 for which he was awarded the Military Cross (
London Gazette 16 August 1938), the I.G.S. medal and clasp and was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 18 February 1938). He then served in Palestine for which he was awarded the M.B.E. and G.S.M. and clasp. Serving in the Second World War, he was promoted Major in 1942 and gained a Bar to his Military Cross (London Gazette 22 October 1940) and was again mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 20 December 1945).

Recomendation for the Bar to the M.C. (Capt., M.B.E., M.C., R.E.) reads, ‘In the initial instance, this officer’s company was holding the perimeter of Arras in conjunction with the 1st Bn. Welsh Guards. On the arrival of further battalions, it was withdrawn for R.E. work. Major Anderson’s energy and gallantry were outstanding and the amount of work he and his men were able to accomplish under difficult circumstances was astonishing. He was always cheerful and willing.’

Directly after the War he held the post of S.O.2 on the War Crimes Executive, 31 August-11 September 1945. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1946, he was Officiating Chairman of the Planning Team, June 1946-January 1947. After a period on Special Employment during February-September 1948, he was promoted Colonel in 1949 and held the post of Senior Officer of the Cyrenaica Planning Team, August 1949-November 1951. Anderson was then the Senior Officer of the D.W.F. Planning Team during November 1951 to June 1953. Promoted Brigadier in 1953, he was the C.E. (Brig.) H.Q. Malaya; services for which he was awarded the C.B.E. (
London Gazette 25 October 1955).

An extract from the recommendation for the C.B.E. reads, ‘Brigadier Anderson has been Chief Engineer Malaya Command, since August 1953. He has during this time been responsible for the planning and execution of all engineer tasks in support of Emergency Operations as well as the planning of the Works Services for the future garrison of Malaya and the raising and training of Malayan Engineer Units. He has shown great foresight, imagination and ingenuity in tackling the many and varied problems connected with Emergency Operations.

It was at his suggestion that airstrips for Pioneer Aircraft were constructed at the majority of jungle forts and his engineers carried out the work, thus saving an immense number of helicopter flying hours and also expense.

The engineer and transportation problems presented in the construction of these airstrips were formidable including the dropping from the air into the jungle of engineer plant and it’s reassembly.

His energy, enthusiasm and determination to overcome all difficulties have been an inspiration to those working with him or under him.....’