Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 - 21 June 2013)

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Date of Auction: 19th - 21st June 2013

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £12,000

The highly important Waterloo Medal, related artefacts and documents of Colour-Sergeant John Biddle, Light Company, 2nd Coldstream Guards, who was wounded at the defence of Hougoumont

Waterloo 1815 (Serj. John Biddle, 2nd Batt. Coldstream Gds.) fitted with replacement clip and ring suspension, generally fine £8000-12000


John Biddle was born in the Parish of Little Shelsley, Worcestershire, and attested for the Coldstream Guards at Worcester on 12 August 1806, at the age of 18 years for a seven year period. He re-engaged at the end of that first period and was finally discharged, at his own request, in the rank of Colour-Sergeant, on 13 September 1825. He served as a private for 2 years 7 months, as a Corporal for 2 years 11 months, and the remainder of his time as Sergeant or Colour-Sergeant. At Waterloo he was one of four sergeants serving with the Light Company under Captain Hon. Robert Moore, the only other officer being Ensign Henry Gooch. The Coldstream Light Company occupied Hougoumont itself during the defence of the chateau which lasted for most of the day. In this fighting Biddle himself was wounded, but not so severely as to disable him in the immediate aftermath of the battle; for he seems to have been tasked with completing a roll of killed and wounded in the 2nd Coldstream Guards. Biddle was temporarily evacuated from his battalion, spending the period from 18 to 24 July 1815 at Haslar Hospital, before returning to London. Becoming a Chelsea Hospital Out-Pensioner in September 1825, Biddle retired to his native county of Worcestershire, where he died from an inflammation on the lungs on 27 April 1845.

Sold with the following original documents and artefacts:

i. Bullion and cloth embroidered Colour-Sergeant’s sleeve badge, the reverse paper backing inscribed in ink with his name. The rank of Colour-Sergeant was instituted in July 1813 as a reward of merit; they were distinguished from other Sergeants by the special badge worn on the right arm. A rare and possibly unique survival from this period.

ii. Red, white and blue silk cockade, supposedly presented to British troops in the Peninsula by the Spanish Sovereign - At Astorga, ‘we were honoured by their sovereign or government or both... by a star or token of their regard... to wear in front of our bonnets... and our officers had a portrait of His Most Catholic Majesty in a small case. But he would be a clever fellow who could catch any of there royal emblems. In 24 hours after fording the river... you could not see any of these royal favours with officer or man... they found their way back by the stream to whence they came from...’ (Extract from The Memoirs of Private James Gunn, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, No. 198).

iii. Small brass Coldstream Guards badge, possibly for collar or forage cap.

iv. Attestation document dated Worcester, 12 August 1806, on ‘Simmons 1804’ watermarked paper.

v. Leather-bound pocket book, approx. 155 x 95mm, containing an alphabetical Roll of Lieutenant-Colonel Walpole’s (Light) Company, with notes of killed and wounded, and a record of the individual numbers for firelocks, bayonets and great coats issued to each man.

vi. Pocket book, approx. 190 x 120mm, front cover missing, containing memorandum and orders from January 1817 to August 1824; five smaller leaves loosely stitched to the front contain orders for Sergeants on Guard.

vii. Pocket book, approx. 150 x 100mm, front red cover marked in ink ‘No. 13’, back cover missing, containing general notes for Non-Commissioned Officers, Memorandum for Soldiers (to be read once a Week), and Standing Orders for both N.C.’s and Privates on Guard.

viii. ‘Return of the killed and wounded of the Coldstreams 2nd Battalion at Waterloo 18 June 1815 under the command of the Duke of Wellington. Light Company 40 rank and file killed and wounded. [signed] John Biddle Serjt’, the paper watermarked ‘Snelgrove 1814’, folded and creased, one section detached.

ix. Regimental Certificate of pay settlement on discharge from the Coldstream Guards, dated 12 September 1825 and signed by commanding officer.

x. Certificate of Admission as an Out-Pensioner of the Royal Hospital Chelsea on 13 September 1825.

xi. Two signed regimental testimonials, dated October 1825 and February 1826.

xii. Printed ‘Notice to the Out-Pensioners of Her Majesty’s Royal Hospital, at Chelsea’, approx. 385 x 235mm, dated 29 November 1837, referring to ‘Advances having been made by Parish Officers to Out-Pensioners at usurious interest, or for exorbitant remuneration,’ folded and torn at the margins.

Also accompanied by additional research and a copy of a modern portrait of Biddle by James Dann, 1998.