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

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Date of Auction: 18th May 2011

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £3,500 - £4,000

The Darfur operations M.C. group of four awarded to Captain Robert Starmer Audas, Army Veterinary Corps, also the recipient of an excessively rare 5 clasp Khedive’s Sudan 1910 Medal

Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed, in case of issue; British War Medal 1914-20 (Capt.); Egypt, Order of the Nile, 5th Class breast badge, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; Khedive’s Sudan 1910-22, 5 clasps, S. Kordofan 1910, Darfur 1916, Lau Nuer, Nyala, Nyima 1917-18, unnamed, good very fine and better (4) £3500-4000


M.C. London Gazette 1 January 1917.

Robert Starmer Audas was born in Hull on 23 January 1884. He qualified as a M.R.C.V.S. (London) on 14 July 1905 and was commissioned into the Army Veterinary Corps as a Subaltern on 3 February 1906. He served with the A.V.C. at Roberts Heights, in the Transvaal, November 1907-October 1909, after which he was posted on attachment to the Egyptian Army in the Sudan. His first posting was as Camel Corps veterinarian in Kordofan Province, November 1909-December 1910. His first military action was with the Camel Corps element of the Rahad Patrol, which was sent into the mountains of South Kordofan in 1910 to subdue the rebellious Mek (King) Gedeil of the Jebel Tagoi Nuba. He next served in the Blue Nile Province, January 1911-January 1913. Promoted Captain in February 1911, he then became Veterinary Inspector, based at El Obeid, Kordofan Province, January 1913-July 1915. Postings to the Blue Nile, Kassala, Kordofan and Upper Nile followed.

During 1916 he saw service in Darfur and was in support of the military operations against the Sultan Ali Dinar. He was responsible for looking after the hundreds of animals, mostly camels, carrying supplies to the fighting front. His services were obviously well received as he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 24 October 1916) and awarded the Military Cross for his actions during this campaign. (London Gazette 1 January 1917).

His next posting was as Veterinary Inspector in the Red Sea Province during 1916-1917, when from February to June 1917 as Staff Officer, Transport, he took part in the patrol to suppress the Lau Nuer of the Upper Nile Province who were continually raiding the Dinka tribesmen inhabiting Bor district of Mongalla. For these services he was awarded the 4th class Order of the Nile (London Gazette 8 April 1919). Audas was soon back out on patrol. The Nubas of the Jebel Sultan in the Nyima hills were becoming increasingly truculent, refusing to pay their taxes, and harbouring fugitives from justice. It was also reported by the local people that a leader by the name of Agabria wad Ahauga, was spoiling for a showdown with the Government, which soon obliged him. A large force was sent out in November 1917 to bring them to heel, and there was extensive fighting in the Nyima hill country, and eventually Agabria and the Kunjur Kilkun his chief medicine man, were captured, tried, and hanged.

On his return from the Nyima patrol, Audas was posted to the occupied Darfur Sultanate from 1 January 1918 to 19 July 1919, with a final period of 20 July to 27 August back in Kordofan.

He retired on a pension from the A.V.C. on 5 October 1919, and transferred to the Egyptian Government. Upper Nile Province, 1920-23; and back to Darfur, 1923-25. In 1925 he became Assistant Director, Veterinary Department, Khartoum.

Early in September 1921 a Fiki by the name of Abdullahi el Suheina declared himself to be the Prophet Isa and thereby succeeded in attracting to himself a considerable following of Masalat, Baggara and Fellata tribesmen in Southern Darfur. These he organised under various leaders, and it was soon apparent that he proposed to attack District headquarters at Nyala in which were stationed at the time the District Commissioner Mr. Tennant McNeill, the civil administration staff, and 37 police.

On 23 September, 64 Mounted Infantry of the Western Arab Corps were despatched from El Fasher to Nyala under the command of El Youzbashi Bilal Effendi Rizq. They made a most rapid forced march and reached there on 25 September. In the meantime an appeal for additional assistance had reached Fasher and a second force of 52 men with two machine guns left to reinforce the garrison. Captain H. Chown, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, also left Fasher for Nyala and reached there on 26 September a few hours before Fiki and his followers attacked.

In the meantime District headquarters had been hurriedly placed in a state of defence. There were available on the morning of 20 September, 64 Mounted Infantry, 40 Police and a party of ‘friendlies’. These were divided between District Headquarters and the market area.

At about 8.30pm on 26 September, the Fiki’s followers, estimated at 5,000 men attacked. The defenders in the fort were forced back fighting gallantly but were overrun. McNeill and Chown were killed. Billal eff. Rizq and Mulazim Awal Hassan eff. Mohammed Zein, the district officer, realising that resistance inside the District Headquarters was useless, retired and picked up the men who were holding the market area. They then made their way back to District Headquarters, and taking the enemy in the rear, drove them out in great confusion. The Fiki, who believed himself to be invulnerable to bullets, was killed in the fighting. The garrison prepared itself for further attack but this did not materialise. The enemy had dispersed.

Audas, who was still on the Reserve of Officers, accompanied the Nyala relief force. He became Principal Veterinary Officer, Sudan Defence Force from December 1926 to December 1927, returning to Khartoum as Assistant Director that year. In 1932 he reverted to the role of Inspector, Veterinary Department, Khartoum, and from 1933 until his retirement in 1935, he returned to Darfur.

In 1920 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society, London, when his UK home address was given as Trematon, Cardigan Road, Bridlington, Yorkshire.

In 1951 he published the article, “Game in Northern Darfur” in “Sudan Wild Life and Sport”. He died on 5 January 1966 at the age of 80.

His Khedive’s Sudan 1910-22 with five clasps is one of only two believed to have been awarded to British personnel. With a folder containing copied research.