Orders, Decorations and Medals (22 June 1999)

Date of Auction: 22nd June 1999

Sold for £2,200

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

An outstanding Boer War D.S.O. group of three awarded to Lieutenant J. A. Baillie, Steinaecker’s Horse, for a daring hand-to-hand encounter with enemy despatch riders in Swaziland

Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamels; Coronation 1902, silver; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Transvaal, S.A. 1901, S.A. 1902 (Lieutenant, Steinaecker’s Horse) nearly extremely fine (3) £1800-2200


Lord Kitchener’s Despatches London Gazette 15 November 1901: ‘Lieutenant John Andrew Baillie, Steinaecker’s Horse. On 4th July 1901, having heard that two despatch riders had crossed the Portuguese border into Swaziland, followed them with one man by moonlight, overtook them, and after a hand-to-hand fight, killed them both and took their despatches.’ Lieutenant Baillie was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and Corporal W. S. Haines, who accompanied him, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and promoted Sergeant by the Commander-in-Chief.

Steinaecker’s Horse was raised in June 1900 by Major F. Von Steinaecker, a former Prussian Army officer, to operate in Zululand and on the Swaziland border of the Transvaal. When the armies of Lord Roberts and General Buller reached the eastern confines of the Transvaal, Steinaecker’s Horse moved further out into the very wild and unhealthy country which lies west of the Portuguese border. From Komati as a centre they gradually extended their raids to the north and south for great distances, thereby denying to the enemy the use of the eastern lowlands for rest and recuperation. They also guarded closely the long eastern border against Boer despatch riders and ammunition runners. In time the corps completely occupied and pacified the whole low veldt to the Oliphant’s river, holding over a dozen permanent posts scattered over a large province.

The corps became one of the most complete and self-contained units in the country. They had their own intelligence, transport, workshops, etc., and were able for over a year to work the Selati railway with their own men. In their eminently unhealthy district, Steinaecker’s men had much most arduous and very dangerous guerilla campaigning. Their district was one in which few white men could live, as is proved by the fact that every regular regiment which had the misfortune to be stationed near Komati Poort lost more than 50 per cent of its strength through fever. The regulars were generally accommodated in tents or hits, but Steinaecker’s men had often to lie out for weeks at a time in districts so wild that lions were a most real danger, as in the Sabie river valley.