Orders, Decorations and Medals (28 & 29 March 2012)

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Date of Auction: 28th & 29th March 2012

Sold for £2,100

Estimate: £800 - £1,000

An unusual Knight Bachelor’s group of ten awarded to Commander Sir Harry Luke, K.C.M.G., Colonial Office, late Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, ‘Doctor of Literature, renowned author, keen philatelist, former Lieutenant-Governor of Malta, Bailiff Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, Commander-in-Chief of Military Forces and Governor of Fiji 1938-42’

Knight Bachelor’s Badge, 1st type breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, hallmarks for London 1926; 1914-15 Star (Lt. Commr. H. C. Luke, R.N.V.R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Commr. H. C. Luke, R.N.V.R.); Coronation 1911, privately engraved, ‘Comdr. H. C. Luke, R.N.V.R.’; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1953, these three privately engraved, ‘Sir Harry Luke’ ; St. John Service Medal, silvered base metal (Sir Harry Luke, K.C.M.G., D.Litt., LL.D., 1959), renamed; Italy, Al Valore Militare, bronze, unnamed, mounted court-style as worn, together with a silver-gilt and enamel Masonic award, named to the recipient for his services to a Cypriot chapter in 1917-18, suspension loop on the Italian award with traces of repair, cleaned and lacquered and the earlier awards somewhat polished, otherwise generally very fine (11) £800-1000


Harry Charles Luke was born in London in December 1884, the son of an Austro-Hungarian father and Polish mother, and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford.

Appointed a Private Secretary and A.D.C. to the Governor of Barbados in 1908, he transferred to Cyprus in 1911, where he served as Private Secretary to the High Commissioner until the outbreak of hostilities.

Commissioned in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he served on the Syrian coast 1914-15, and on the Staff of Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss in the Dardanelles, in addition to occupying the office of Government Secretary, Mudros from February to June 1916. Having then returned to Cyprus as Commissioner of Famagusta in 1918, he was re-employed as a Political Officer to Admiral of the Fleet Sir J. de Robeck in Constantinople and in the Black Sea 1919-20, in which latter year he was British Chief Commissioner in Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan).

Luke became Assistant Governor of Jerusalem in 1921, was appointed a member of the Haycraft Commission to establish the cause of the Jaffa riots of May that year, and to investigate the affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Next appointed Colonial Secretary in Sierra Leone, in which capacity he was awarded the C.M.G., he returned to the Middle East - and more riots - as High Commissioner to the Government in Palestine in 1928 and, in the following year, as Deputy to Sir Robert Chancellor, attempted to mediate an agreement between the Jewish and Arab leaders - without success.

A lengthy stint as Lieutenant-Governor of Malta having followed in 1930-38, in which period he was knighted (1933), appointed K.C.M.G. and awarded the 1st Class Cross of Merit of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Luke’s final Colonial Office appointment was as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner of the British Western Pacific Territories from September 1938 until July 1942, although he remained employed as Chief Representative of the British Council in the Caribbean until the War’s end.

A prolific author during his career and in retirement, he also served as a Registrar of the Order of St. John, and was raised to Bailiff Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Sir Harry, whose cooking compendium Tenth Muse remains a popular title, died in Cyprus in May 1969; many of his career papers are held by the Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford.