The Allan and Janet Woodliffe Collection of Medals Relating to the Reconquest and Pacification of the Sudan (18 May 2011)

Date of Auction: 18th May 2011

Sold for £4,000

Estimate: £3,500 - £4,000

The C.M.G. group of ten awarded to Brigadier-General Malcolm Peake, Royal Artillery, who commanded an Egyptian Army artillery battery throughout the reconquest, later became responsible for the epic feat of clearing a channel through the swamps of the southern Sudan to Uganda, and went on to command the 29th Division artillery at the battle of the Somme - he was killed in action on Hill 70 while commanding the artillery of the 1st Army Corps

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s breast badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (Cpt. M. Peake, R.A.); British War and Victory Medals (Brig. Gen. M. Peake);Coronation 1911 (Major M. Peake); Order of Osmanieh, 4th Class breast badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Order of Leopold I, 4th Class breast badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, gilt and enamels, with rosette on ribbon; Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 6 clasps, Firket, Hafir, Sudan 1897, The Atbara, Khartoum, Sudan 1899 (Captain Peake. R.A.); Order of the Medjidie, 3rd Class neck badge, silver, gold and enamels, some minor enamel chips, otherwise good very fine or better (10) £3500-4000


C.M.G. London Gazette 16 November 1900 (For services in Egypt).

M.I.D. London Gazette 2 November 1896 (Reconquest of Dongola Province); 25 January 1898 (Capture of Abu Hamed); 30 September 1898 (Omdurman); 4 June 1917.

Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class London Gazette 27 September 1896.

Order of the Medjidie, 3rd Class London Gazette 25 July 1905.

Order of Osmanieh, 4th Class London Gazette 4 August 1900.

Legion of Honour London Gazette 15 April 1916.

Malcolm Peake was born on 27 March 1865, the third son of Frederick Peake, of Burrough-on-the-Hill, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Educated at Charterhouse, he was a Cadet at the Royal Military Academy from January 1883, and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 9 December 1884. He served in India and Malta before being attached to the Egyptian Army in July 1895. In Egypt he commanded a battery of Egyptian Artillery, and was involved in training the Egyptian gunners. He took a prominent part in the reconquest of Dongola, commanded No.1 Egyptian Battery in the action of Firket, and commanded all the Egyptian Artillery at the action of Hafir.

Peake’s Battery fired the first shot at the battle of the Atbara at 06.15 a.m., and his guns were hotly engaged at the battle of Omdurman. As part of MacDonald’s brigade his battery played a prominent part in repulsing the two Dervish assaults on the exposed brigade, firing case shot at 150 yards. As Brigadier Hector MacDonald observed, “It was hard work especially for the Artillery. In the first attack 2nd phase they fired from 1100 yards to case and in the 2nd attack 2nd phase 800 yards to case and were engaged thus for over 2 hours without ceasing, a tremendous physical strain on any set of men”.

The Fashoda Incident

On 10 September 1898, Peake accompanied Lord Kitchener south to Fashoda to neutralise the French presence there.

While the momentous events were unfolding at Khartoum, in the far south the original British fears were being realised - the French were on the Nile. An expedition, led by Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand, consisted of 160 French officers and Senegalese troops, had left the Congo in April 1897 and began the trek east. The story of the Marchand expedition, and its long march to the Nile is an epic adventure in its own right, and a story of great courage in adversity. On 10 July 1898 the expedition reached the Nile at the ruined and desolate town of Fashoda. The town was duly claimed “in the name of France”, the tricolour raised, and the whole area declared a French protectorate. Marchand then set about building a fort he called St.Louis, planting grain, and settling in for a long stay. He was, however, now stuck in a somewhat unenviable situation. Here he was, in a desolate, unhealthy spot, with only a few troops, non-existent lines of communication, and beginning to hear rumours of a mighty battle further down the Nile. He must have wondered if he would soon be facing either the British or the Dervishes with his woefully inadequate little force. His answer came on 18 September, when two black Sudanese N.C.Os arrived with a letter addressed “To the Commandant of the European Expedition at Fashoda”. Marchand must have breathed a great sigh of relief when he saw that the letter was from Herbert Kitchener, Sirdar of the Anglo- Egyptian Army, and not the Ansar of the Khalifa. The letter told of the great victory near Omdurman, and how, while pushing the reoccupation south, he had heard of a party of Europeans being at Fashoda. The courteous letter also announced that he, with his flotilla of gunboats, would be at Fashoda the following day. The historic meeting took place on board the “Dhal”, where the two commanders spent long hours wrestling with their apparently insoluble problem, as both had orders to occupy Fashoda. Marchand was in “possession” with a pitifully small force and could not leave as French honour was at stake. Kitchener, although he certainly had the means to do so, did not want to eject him by force, astutely realising that if he did it could possibly cause a war between Britain and France. Kitchener, who spoke excellent French, and who had served for a short time with the French army during the Franco-Prussian war, probably admired Marchand’s bold stand, and suggested a clever compromise. The Anglo-Egyptian force would claim the area in the name of the Khedive, and raise the Egyptian flag alongside the tricolour of France. Fashoda would thus be jointly occupied. Colonel Jackson of the Egyptian Army would be the British commandant of the district, and Captain Marchand commandant of the quite separate French force. They would then refer the whole matter back to their respective governments to resolve.

The news of the confrontation hit Europe on 25 September. The British were in no mood to concede anything at all to the French after winning the River War, and the French saw both their dreams of empire being frustrated, and their honour being compromised. Hysteria mounted in both countries, with strident calls for war. The British Prime Minister, still with the perennial fear of what could happen to Egypt if control of the Nile headwaters was lost, demanded that the French withdraw Marchand or Britain would declare war. The French government’s reaction was to tell their military to prepare for war. That is, until the French Chiefs of Staff pointed out to their government that their navy had only obsolete battleships, and poorly trained men, and their army, still embroiled in the Dreyfuss Affair, was not in much better a state. Realism finally brought sense out of the histrionics, and on 3 November 1898, Paris ordered Marchand to evacuate Fashoda. The expedition finally arrived back in France, via Abyssinia and Djibouti, the following May. The Union Jack was now raised at Fashoda, with all due pomp and ceremony, on 12 December. The Upper Nile now belonged to the British, provided that is, that they could actually govern it.

Following this, the “Fashoda Incident”, Peake was sent south in October in command of the steamer Tamaai with instructions to meet the Belgians, who were rumoured to be making inroads into the southern Sudan to expand and consolidate their occupation of the Lado enclave. Peake met the Belgians at Kiro and showed them a copy of the 1894 Treaty which defined spheres of interest, and, having defused the situation, returned to Khartoum. On his return, Peake confirmed that all the rivers were blocked by sudd and that there was no way through.

Peake was involved in the ‘White Nile’ operations against the Khalifa in 1899, and afterwards took command of the Egyptian Artillery until he retired back to the U.K. in 1905. When the Great War broke out he was Assistant Adjutant General at the War Office, a post he had held since May 1914 and which he was to retain until April 1916. He went to the Western Front as C.R.A. 29th Division on 22 April 1916, commanding its guns during the Somme offensive. He was promoted Brigadier-General R.A. I Corps on 19 December 1916. Brigadier-General Peake was killed by an enemy shell while reconnoitring on Hill 70, near Loos, on 27 August 1917. He was the thirty-ninth British general to be killed in action or die of wounds. He is buried in Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery and Extension, France.

With a folder containing copied research.