Alfred Edwin Purkis AM

b. 31/10/1876 Freshwater, Isle of Wight.  d. 11/10/1930 Budleigh Salterton, Devon.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 07 and 15/04/1906 Hyderabad, India.

Alfred Edwin Purkis was born on 31 October 1876, the son of William and Mary Ann Purkis. He was one of six children, and attested for the Royal Artillery as a Boy Soldier on 31 March 1892. He was appointed a Trumpeter on 6 June 1893, and was promoted Acting Bombardier on 26 September 1899. He transferred to the Indian Ordnance Department on 16 June 1902, and was promoted Sergeant on 16 June 1904. For his gallantry during the Hyderabad Cordite Explosions, Sind Provence, on 7 and 15 April 1906 he was awarded the Albert Medal First Class, and was advanced to Sub-Conductor on 15 April 1906: given the date of his promotion it is almost certain that this was also a reward for his gallant and meritorious conduct. He was promoted Conductor on 12 July 1917, and served during the Great War with the Indian Ordnance Department in Mesopotamia, his Medal Index Card indicating that he also received a Victory Medal. He retired on 2 August 1921. He married Alice Maud Davies on 4th February 1903 in Madras, India, and they had a son and a daughter. He died in Budleigh Salterton, aged 53 in October 1930. He was living in Exeter at the time of his death.



On the 7th of April, 1906, and again on the 15th April, the Cordite Magazine at Hyderabad caught fire. On the first occasion SubConductor Purkis, acting on his own initiative, entered the magazine with his Lascars while smoke was still issuing from the building, and, by pouring water on the smouldering cases of cordite, extinguished the fire. Had he not succeeded in so doing the loss of life, both in the Fort (which was fully occupied at the time) and in the City (the population, some 138,000 In number, not having received warning of the danger), must have been very serious. On. the second occasion the senior Officer ordered the evacuation of the Fort, and Purkis was the last person to leave after having done everything in his power to avert the explosion. Notwithstanding that the Fort was cleared and the City warned, lives were lost when the second fire occurred. On each occasion both gunpowder and cordite were involved.





Dix Noonan Webb – Image of the Purkis AM Medal Group.