Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (13 & 14 September 2012)

Date of Auction: 13th & 14th September 2012

Sold for £880

Estimate: £250 - £300

An emotive prize medal awarded to Siegfried Sassoon, the renowned war poet and author, by The Beacon School, Sevenoaks, silver, obverse, central date ‘1901’ with school title and wreath around, reverse, ‘S. L. Sassoon, Hockey’, 25mm., good very fine £250-300


Provenance: Phillips, The Remaining Contents of Heytesbury House, Warminster, Wiltshire, 31 October 1994 (Lot 124).

No introduction is needed here for the life and times of Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, the distinguished war poet, who famously tore off his M.C. riband and threw it in to the river Mersey - this at the time of his much publicised statement to his C.O. in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers: Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration, the contents of which were read out in the House of Commons by Mr. Lees Smith, the M.P. for Haggerston, on 30 July 1917.

His earlier exploits on the Western Front had won him the nickname of “Mad Jack” among his soldiers, while fellow Royal Welsh Fusilier and poet Robert Graves referred to his friend engaging in suicidal feats of bravery, feats that resulted in a recommendation for the V.C. But it was for his critical poetry which described the real horrors of trench warfare that he won true acclaim, so, too, for his post-war writing, not least Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and the “Sherston Trilogy”.

Sassoon was a keen sportsman, particularly at cricket, though the above described award now confirms earlier prowess in Hockey at his Preparatory School in Sevenoaks, Kent. In later life he settled at Heytesbury House, Warminster and, long after his death, his unclaimed Great War campaign medals appear to have been issued to a family source in July 1985. More certain is the fact his M.C. was offered at auction by Christie’s in London on 6 June 2007; sold with a file of copied research, including a copy of the Christie’s catalogue “The Library of the late Siegfried Sassoon”, 4 June 1974.