An Albert Medal Second Class for Land and Great War ‘French theatre’ D.C.M. group of six awarded to Staff Sergeant P. J. Fitzpatrick, Military Works Service, later Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, who was awarded his Albert Medal for gallantry during the Ferozepore Arsenal Fire, 31 August 1906. 2 Albert Medals in Gold and 11 Albert Medals in Bronze were awarded for the operations to extinguish the fire and prevent the explosion of over 300,000lbs. of gunpowder
Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented in the name of His Majesty to Staff Sergt. (then Corpl.) Patrick John Fitzpatrick for Gallantry in saving life at Ferozepore on the 31st. August 1906.’; Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (S. Condr. P. J. Fitzpatrick. Mil: Works Ser: Ind: Army.); 1914 Star (Sub-Condr. P. J. Fitzpatrick, M.W.S.); British War and Victory Medals (2. Lieut. P. J. Fitzpatrick); India General Service 1908-35, 2 clasps, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919, Waziristan 1921-24 (Lieut. P. J. Fitzpatrick. R.E.) second clasp loose on riband as issued,
A.M. London Gazette26 August 1913 (in a joint citation within which the parts played by a number of recipients are quoted in separate paragraphs):
‘On 30th August 1906, a fire broke out in one of the magazines of the Ferozepore Arsenal comprising five cells in which were stored cordite, small-arms ammunition and gunpowder. At an early stage the ends of one of the outer cells (No. 10) were blown out by a explosion of cordite, while from cell No. 9, where small-arms ammunition was stored, smoke was seen to be issuing.
Major-General Anderson, who directed the subsequent operations from a roof at the edge of the magazine compound, at a distance of some 20 yards, having ordered all persons to be cleared out of the fort, and placed a cordon round it at 1,000 yards distance, a steam fire-engine was got to work, and the fire party which had been organised commenced their highly dangerous task of clearing cell No. 8 in which was stored some 19,000lbs. of gunpowder; they eventually succeeded in so doing, thereby cutting off the fire by the intervention of an empty cell. Had the powder in this cell exploded, the explosion must have been communicated to cells in an adjoining magazine where 300,000lbs. of gunpowder was stored.
Captain Donovan volunteered to clear cell No. 8, and led the fire party, and all concerned acted with the greatest coolness in circumstances calling for a high degree of courage. The door of the cell was opened and the fire hose turned on. Major Campbell joined the party by the cell, and returned in a short while and reported to General Anderson that though the cell was full of smoke, and the barrels hot, there was no actual fire in the cell. As, however, the explosions in the ruined cell No. 10 were becoming more violent, General Anderson, fearing that the barrels of powder which were being removed from cell No. 8 would be ignited, ordered the discontinuance of efforts to clear the cell; the pumping-engine was, however, kept at work by Mr. Dow and some native assistants.
A series of heavy explosions of cordite now took place and on the occurrence of a lull Captain Clarke went to reconnoitre, and reported that cell No. 9 was still apparently intact. Major Campbell and Mr. Pargiter subsequently went into the enclosure to investigate, and on their report being received a party including fifty Lascars was organised, and the removal of the powder barrels in cell No. 8 was recommenced under cover of the fire-hose. During their removal the last important explosion of cordite took place some 12 yards away. Eventually all the barrels were removed without accident.
Captain Rossdiscovered the fire, and with a detachment of his regiment, entered the magazine compound with a small hand-engine fed from tanks in the magazine, and attempted to put out the fire. He also worked at getting the steam-engine into position.
Major Young, as General Anderson’s Brigade-Major, was constantly with the General in positions of great danger. In particular he joined General Anderson at a critical moment by the door of No. 8 cell, from which the gunpowder was being removed, and remained with the General throughout the rest of the period of danger.
Captain Battye assisted in the removal of the gunpowder from No. 8 cell. He also, with Staff-Sergeant Fitzpatrick, directed the operation for piercing two holes through the masonry of the roof of cell No. 9 where the small-arms ammunition was burning and succeeded in getting the hose through these holes so as to play on the burning ammunition. By this means a check on the fire in No. 9 cell was effected. Both men were conspicuous throughout the day in the magazine enclosure.’
D.C.M.London Gazette14 January 1916:
‘For conspicuous gallantry during the past ten months while employed in superintending work both in and behind the front line. He has constantly been under fire, and has always shown the greatest bravery and coolness in the performance of his work. His devotion to duty and fine example have had a good effect on all with him.’
Patrick John Fitzpatrick was born in April 1880, and initially served with the Military Works Services, Indian Army. Fitzpatrick advanced to Sub-Conductor, and served during the Great War with the unit in the French theatre of war from 26 September 1914. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, 25 August 1918, and advanced to Captain, 10 November 1922. Fitzpatrick died in India, 13 May 1928.
mounted as worn, generally GVF