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 £2,800

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

The Great War O.B.E. group of seven awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel David Alexander Fairbairn, West Riding Regiment, a veteran of the Zeraf operations

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type Officer’s (O.B.E.) Military Division breast badge, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1917; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (2 Lieut., W. Rid. Rgt.); Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, East Africa 1915 (Major, 9/Sud. R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oakleaf (Lieut.); Egypt, Order of the Nile, 4th Class breast badge, silver, silver-gilt and enamel, rosette on ribbon; Khedive’s Sudan 1910-22, 2nd issue, 1 clasp, Zeraf 1913-14, unnamed, mounted for display, minor edge bruising, very fine and better (7) £2000-2500


O.B.E. London Gazette 3 June 1919.

David Alexander Fairbairn was born on 3 September 1882. He was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment on 8 May 1901. He saw service in the South African War during operations in the Transvaal from October 1901 to May 1902. He was promoted to Lieutenant in April 1904, Captain in December 1909, and Major in May 1916. He was seconded to the Egyptian Army on 10 May 1912, serving in the Upper Nile district, January 1913-December 1914. During this period he commanded the Zeraf (Giraffe) District expedition against the Gaweir Nuer in the Upper Nile Province December 1913 to June 1914. Under his command were elements of the 9th & 12th Sudanese regiments. He was awarded the Sudan medal and clasp, issued direct by G.O.C. British Troops in Egypt - seven British officers and two N.C.Os received the clasp ‘Zeraf’.

Four months later, at the request of the Governor of Uganda for military assistance, one and a half companies of the IXth Sudanese were sent to Madial, Morongole and Kitgum to protect the frontier against raids by the Dodinga tribe. The troops left Mongalla on 21 September 1914, and a detachment consisting of two British officers, Captain D.A. Fairbairn, West Riding Regiment and Captain H.F.C. Hobbs, West Yorkshire Regiment, along with two Egyptian officers, Yuzbashi Sherif and Mulazim Awal Hafez, and 67 other ranks of the IXth Sudanese, co-operated with Ugandan troops in operations against the Turkhana tribe on the shores of Lake Rudolf in April and May, 1915. For his services he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 2 May 1917) and awarded the Africa General Service Medal with clasp East Africa 1915, this rare as only two were awarded to British officers of the Egyptian Army.

He returned to Upper Nile District, 8-31 December 1915, after which he moved to Mongalla District, where he remained until 14 September 1916. After a period of leave, he returned to Upper Nile District, more or less remaining there until he retired on 26 November 1916. On his return to the U.K., he was posted to his home battalion, serving in France and Belgium from 12 April, taking over as second in command of the 9th Battalion West Riding Regiment, and taking command on 1 July with the rank of Acting Lieutenant-Colonel. He returned home in September 1917, to officer a company of Gentlemen Cadets at the Royal Military Academy. He then commanded a company from 4 January 1918 until 27 January 1920 when he went on extended leave. For his services he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 27 May 1919); awarded the O.B.E. (London Gazette 3 June 1919) and awarded the Order of the Nile 4th Class (London Gazette 28 March 1919). Fairbairn finally retired on 10 May 1920 having achieved the ranks of Kaimakam (Lieutenant-Colonel) in the Egyptian Army and Major in the British Army. After he retired, Fairbairn moved to South Africa, and was known to be living in Mtunzini, Zululand in May 1939. He was recalled to the Home Defence Force on 22 April 1940, and released on 25 October 1943. He moved to Theron Street, Hermanvers, Cape, where he died on 30 November 1950.

With a folder containing copied research.