Arthur Frederick Edwards GC (EM exchanger) MSM

b. 28/05/1895 Islington, London. d. 28/05/1984 Henley, Oxfordshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 02/04/1916 Faversham, Kent.

Arthur Frederick Edwards (1895-1984) was born on 28th May 1895, the only son of Mr and Mrs J. F. Edwards of Messrs J and J Edwards, Outfitters, Tavern Street, Ipswich, Suffolk and Lowestoft. He was educated at Ipswich Grammar School and Bishop Stortford Grammar School and before the First World War, he worked for 18 months with his father and after this with Ogdens Ltd, Outfitters of Rochester, Kent.

Arthur F Edwards GC

He married Edna Mary (nee Sanders) and they went on to have two sons. Sadly one of their sons pre-deceased him. On the outbreak of World War One, he enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery, attaining the rank of Bombardier.

On 2nd April 1916, there was an explosion in a store at the Faversham Powder Mills in Kent. The store contained 200 tons of TNT, and the factory site some 500 tons altogether. All the buildings were destroyed and a chain of explosions followed. Fires spread rapidly and the dead and injured lay all around. Edwards, Acting Sergeant Charles Harris GC, Lieutenant John Stebbings, Bombardier Bert Dugdale and Corporal Charles Ashley assisted in the rescue of the wounded, showing great courage, devotion to duty and disregard for their own safety. Not only did they prevent further explosions, but by their splendid example others who at first showed some diffidence at entering the danger area became willing helpers. Explosions were a constant problem as they worked.

Nearly two years later, on 22nd January 1918, the London Gazette published the announcement of Edward Medals (Bronze) to Acting Sergeant Charles Harris, Lieutenant John Morley Stubbings, Bombardier Bert Dugdale, Corporal Charles Ashley and Bombardier Arthur Frederick Edwards. Arthur also received the British War Medal 1914-19, and Victory Medal 1914-20 for his service in the Great War. He was invested with his Edward Medal at Buckingham Palace on 17th July 1919. In his later service he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

In 1971, a change in the Royal Warrant gave the opportunity for recipients of the Albert and Edward Medals to exchange their medals for a George Cross. Sadly, of the five men awarded the Edward Medal for the actions at Faversham Powder Mills, only Harris and Edwards were still alive. Harris chose to decline the exchange, but Arthur chose to exchange, and donated his Edward Medal to the Ipswich Museum.

Arthur retired to Oxfordshire where he died on 28th May 1984, aged 89, and it is believed that he was cremated. His medals including his GC are privately held.