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 £6,100

Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000

The rare Senussi operations M.C. group of seven awarded to Lieuenant John Davies Lawrence, Manchester Regiment, who commanded a Rolls Royce armoured car in actions at Dakhla Oasis in the Western Desert

Military Cross, G.V.R., reverse inscribed, ‘2nd Lieut. J. D. Lawrence, Manchester Regt., Nov. 1915’; 1914-15 Star (2 Lieut., Manch. R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oakleaf (Lieut.); Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, East Africa 1918 (Lieut., Equatorial Bn. E.A.); 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, Aliab Dinka (Lieut. Manch. R.) impressed naming; together with a set of seven miniature dress medals, all in glass-fronted case, very fine and better (14) £5000-6000


M.C. London Gazette 4 June 1917.

The citation reads: ‘Whilst repairing one of his two Armoured Cars in the desert (he) received a helio message from W.D.A. to proceed at once to operate against DAKHLA OASIS in conjunction with No. 1 L.C. patrol*. After working all day on the car he was able to start at midnight and owing to his skill in guiding the car over unknown ground was able to overtake the L.C. patrol 10 miles short of DAKHLA, having travelled all night. The Senussi main camp at AIN BARABI being found evacuated he pushed on to TENEDA taking 1 officer and 2 o/r prisoners. Next morning pushing on quickly to BUDHKULU a party of 50 Senussi were encountered and after a short fight surrendered. Here the cars had to wait for supplies and on their arrival, he proceeded to MUT where another 50 prisoners were taken, 3 officers and 7 o/r of whom were ex-Coastguard. Work in the Oasis itself was difficult for the Armoured Car owing to the narrow bridges.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 6 July 1917. For Senussi campaign.

M.I.D. London Gazette 18 January 1921. For Aliab Dinka.

Order of the Nile London Gazette 4 August 1922 ‘for good services rendered during operations against the Aliab Dinkas in the Mongalla Province, Sudan, 1919-20’.

John ‘Jack’ Lawrence was born on 19 February 1896, in the Jepperstown District of Johannesburg, South Africa. He was educated at Horton Preparatory School, Ickwellbury, Bedfordshire, where he was a well known sportsman and captain of all the school sports teams. He moved on to Tonbridge Public School Kent (1911-1913), again winning school colours at cricket, football and rugby. Here he was also a Sergeant Cadet, Tonbridge School Contingent, Junior Division, Officers Training Corps. He was apprenticed to the Midland Railway from 1913 to August 1914.

On 9 April 1914 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th (Ardwick)Battalion Manchester Regiment. On 10 September 1914, Lawrence was posted to Palestine, retuning to the U.K. in March 1915 having been ordered to attend the Royal Military College. While at Sandhurst, on 20 October 1915, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army (Manchester Regiment) and posted for employment with M.G.C.

In March 1916 he was posted to Egypt, and was employed with the Armoured Cars, of Nos. 11 & 12 Light Armoured Motor Brigade (LAMB) M.G.C., Desert Column, on the Senussi Campaign in the Western Desert. The unit consisted of one Rolls Royce Armoured Car (Lawrence) and tender; six Ford cars and 12 motor bicycles. The personnel consisted of two officers and 58 other ranks, with two Vickers and two Lewis guns. For his service in the Senussi campaign Lawrence was mentioned in despatches and awarded the M.C.

Lawrence parted company with the M.G.C. on 10 September 1917, being transferred to the Equatorial Battalion, Egyptian Army, which was serving in the Sudan. Commanding No. 2 Company of the Equatorial Battalion, E.A., he took part in operations against the Northern Turkhana, Marille, Bonyio and other kindred tribes in East Africa in the vicinity of Southern Sudan between April and June 1918. Known as the “Turkhana Patrol” this patrol was mounted to oppose tribal acts of slave raiding and cattle rustling, and saw some heavy fighting. The campaign was under the command of Major R. F. White, Essex Regt. 1130 officers and men took part of which 513 were from the Equatorial Battalion of the Egyptian Army. This service earned him the Africa General Service Medal with clasp “East Africa 1918”, one of only seven awarded to British officers in the Egyptian Army.

At the end of October 1919 a war-party of the Aliab Dinka attacked a police-post south of Bor on the White Nile, killing eight policemen. The trouble, the roots of which are obscure, spread and Stigand sought to stamp it out with a few companies of the Equatorial Battalion, a locally recruited unit of the Egyptian Army. Owing to a shortage of officers he accompanied one of the patrols himself. The column had already been attacked at night and a few casualties inflicted when on 8 December in the early morning it was ambushed in long grass by several hundred Aliab Dinka. Stigand, the OC Troops Kaimakam (Lt Col) White, Yuzbashi (Captain) Saad Osman and twenty four other ranks and carriers were killed. The four surviving British officers, Bimbashi’s F. C. Roberts, V.C., D.S.O., M.C., (Worcs Regt), W. H. Wynne Finch, M.C. (Scots Guards), A.H. Kent–Lemon (York & Lancs) and J. D. Lawrence, M.C. (Manch. Regt) - all veterans of the Great War and accustomed to reacting swiftly in desperate circumstances, rallied their companies and drove off the enemy, thus averting even greater disaster. Lawrence subsequently took part in the retaliatory operations against the Aliab Dinka, Bor Dinka and Mandari tribes between November 1919 and May 1920, earning the Khedives Sudan medal with clasp “Aliab Dinka”. He was also awarded the Order of the Nile for good services rendered during these operations.

It may have been during these operations that Lawrence contracted malaria, as following some sick leave, he was examined by a Medical Board on 14 October 1920, which confirmed his 50% disability from malaria and extended his sick leave until 14 December 1920 and for him to continue to be treated by his own medical attendant. At his next Medical Board on 7 December 1920 they recommended that he be treated in hospital. On his third Medical Board on 6 January 1921 he was discharged back to his regiment, and relinquished his commission on the same day.

On 19 June, 1921, after recovering his health, Lawrence joined the Colonial Service as a Cadet, being promoted to Assistant District Officer on 24 July 1923. He had by now also passed his examinations in the Swahili language. In April 1924 Lawrence had also resigned his commission in the Reserve of Officers.

Lawrence was seconded from the Colonial Service to the Judicial Department on the outbreak of war in 1939, becoming Acting Resident Magistrate, Mbeya, Tanganyika Territory. He passed away at 23 De La Warr Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, on 22 November 1961, age 65 years, and was cremated at Hastings.

With a number of original papers, including: Order of the Nile award certificate; Order of the Nile permission to wear; M.I.D. certificate, 18 March 1917; Commission Certificates (3); Colonial Service Personal Record report for Tanganyika Territory; newspaper cuttings; letters etc. Together with a folder containing extensive copied research.