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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 179

A Great War 1918 M.C. group of seven to Lieutenant R. D. Nightingale, Royal Artillery, who organised a search party and laboured tirelessly to save trapped his comrades trapped by a cellar collapse caused by heavy shelling

Military Cross, G.V.R.; British War and Victory Medals (2. Lieut R. D. Nightingale.); Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, mounted as worn, very fine overall (7)

M.C. London Gazette 30 July 1919, the original citation states:

'At Reumont, on October 12th, 1918, a cellar in which one officer, one serjeant, two gunners, and nine civilians had taken refuge, was blown in by an 8-inch shell. While the shelling was still in progress, he organised a party and after five hours of labour, which he directed with great skill and sound judgement, one gunner and one civilian were rescued alive, all the remainder having died of wounds or suffocation. He displayed, as he always does, the very finest qualities, and is a young officer of great promise.'

Roland Douglas Nightingale was born at Herne Hill, Southwark on 12 June 1899. Entering the Royal Military Academy Woolwich as a Cadet in 1917 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Garrison Artillery on 25 January 1918. Posted to 91 Siege Battery in France on 9 July 1918, the Regimental History of 91 Siege Battery expands upon his citation, stating:

'The 12 Oct. was a very bad day for us. We had fired a few rounds at active batteries and a few 8" shells came back in return. Lieut. Ainsley, Sergt. Eales, Bombardier Newton, Gunner Graham and Gunner McW. McCullough took refuge in a cellar under a house, together with its inhabitants, nine French civilians. A shell hit the house and the cellar collapsed, the ruins of the house falling into it. Lieut. Nightingale was the first to discover the calamity and he, with Bombardier Bradshaw and Gunner Fletcher were conspicuous amongst many in the rescue work which started at great personal risk before the shelling had ceased. (Bradshaw and Fletcher received MMs).'

Nightingale was promoted Lieutenant on 25 September 1919 and posted to Gibraltar the next year. A keen sportsman within the regiment he played in representative Army Games of Soccer, Rugger and Hockey at Woolwich, Bulford and Shoeburyness and at Squash and Tennis for Woolwich, Gibraltar, and Shoeburyness Garrisons. He played Representative Garrison and R.A. Cricket from 1925 to 1935, representing the Regiment twice at Lords vs. R.E. and was a playing member at the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Promoted to Captain on 25 January 1931 he was appointed Adjutant later in the year on 22 September. Posted to Ceylon in 1936 he was the first Instructor of Gunnery appointed to the Ceylon Command, being promoted to Major in the role on 1 August 1938. His expertise in Gunnery saw him returning to Britain in January 1939 with a posting to the experimental establishment at Shoeburyness followed soon after by service with 8 A/A Divisional Staff at Bristol.

Nightingale was given command of 80 LAA Regiment Royal Artillery with which he served in the South of England, South Wales and all over the Middle East until the Regiment disbanded in April 1944. From thence he was appointed Chief Administrative Officer, Alexandria Area until returning to Home Establishment in 1946, with a promotion to Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel on 25 July 1946. After a short period with HQ Civil Resettlement he commanded 498 H.A.A. Regiment, R.A. (TA).

Retiring due to ill-health in 1949 after service to take up the Secretaryship of Western Region, R.A.A. on 1 February 1949 Nightingale became an Employment Officer with the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund. He died on 20 May 1962 at the General Hospital, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

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