Details of the Albert Medal award to John Neale RNVR.
25 August 1916 – Lieutenant John NEALE RNVR, Stokes mortar incident, Esher, Surrey
The London Gazette 25 January 1918 (from Whitehall, January 23, 1918)
‘On the 25th August 1916, Lt. Neale, R.N.V.R., was conducting certain experiments which involved the projection from a Stokes mortar of a tube containing flare powder. An accident occurred, rendering imminent the explosion of the tube before leaving the mortar, which would almost certainly have resulted in the bursting of the mortar with loss of live to bystanders. Lt. Neale, in order to safeguard the lives of the working party, at once attempted to lift the tube from the mortar. It exploded whilst he was doing so, with the result that he was severely injured, but owing to the fact that he had partly withdrawn the tube from the mortar no injury was caused to others.’
John Neale, of Oxshott, Surrey, was commissioned Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served during the Great War attached to the Munitions Experimental Station, at Claremont Park, Esher, the home of H.R.H. the Dowager Duchess of Albany. As his work was the responsibility of the Ministry of Munitions, the recommendation for the award of his Albert Medal was made to the King by the Minister of Munitions, the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, M.P., and Neale was presented with his Albert Medal by H.M. King George V at Buckingham Palace on 6 April 1918. He was subsequently advanced Captain, Royal Marine Engineers.
The Home Office papers dealing with Neale’s award are preserved in the Public Record Office and contain, inter alia, the original recommendation made on behalf of the Minister of Munitions; the submission to the King; the draft citation; a copy of the inscription to be engraved on the reverse of the award; and correspondence leading to the investiture at Buckingham Palace.
A typical WW1 Stokes Mortar
Details of the THE ALBERT MEDAL (AM) – (from Web Naval History)
The medal was instituted in 1866 for saving life at sea, named after Queen Victoria’s husband, there are two Classes, the 1st in gold and 2nd in bronze (ribbon colours and sizes changed through its history). In 1877 – it was also granted for saving life on land.
Publication of John Neale’s temporary commission; from the London Gazette. 7566 – THE LONDON GAZETTE, 3 AUGUST, 1915.
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Temporary commissions in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve have been issued as follows : —
(extracted from the list of names)
ABOUT – JOHN NEALE
Born 1866 in Addlestone, near Chertsey.
Death date 1945 (age 79)
He married Mary Timms (1860 – 1938) in 1890 & was listed as a grocer in the census returns & later lived in Hersham, Oxshott then Molesey.
He was a Member of the Oxshott Men’s Club from about 1911 and a Vice President at the time of his award, which was acknowledged in their 1919 AGM minutes, with local directories showing his address as ‘Vintilla’, in Kellys Directory, which was located in Sheath Lane, Oxshott, on the east side.
He was enlisted with a commission as a Lieutenant in July 1915, then transferred to Ministry of Munitions in August 1915.
He became Commanding Officer of the Experimental Station, Ministry of Munitions, at Claremont House, Esher, Surrey.
On 31st December 1917 he completed his service with the Ministry and was invalided out of the service on 9th January 1918, as a Commander.
A promotion to Captain RNVR, was not approved, which may have been as a result of him leaving the service and 1919 he used the title of Commander, when living in Oxshott, as shown in local directories.
Records show that he received a war pension for his wounds.
Almost 100 years on, his Albert Medal was sold at auction in March 2017, for £6,000.