Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2015)

Date of Auction: 22nd July 2015

Sold for £10,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

The Aro Expedition 1901-02 D.S.O. group of seven awarded to General Sir William C. G. Heneker, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., Connaught Rangers

Distinguished Service Order, V.R., in silver-gilt and enamels, centres slightly loose and some damage to red and green enamels; East and West Africa 1887-1900, 1 clasp, 1899 (Capt. W. G. Heneker, Niger C.P. Force); Africa General Service 1902-56, 4 clasps, S. Nigeria, Aro 1901-1902, S. Nigeria 1902, S. Nigeria 1902-03 (Major W. C. G. Heneker, Conn. Rang.) high relief bust; 1914-15 Star (Brig. Gen. W. C. G. Heneker D.S.O.); British War and Victory Medals (Maj. Gen. W. C. G. Heneker.); Coronation 1911, unnamed as issued, generally nearly extremely fine and a unique combination (7)


D.S.O. London Gazette 12 September 1902 ‘For services during the Aro Expedition in Southern Nigeria’.

Fuller detail of the expedition and the circumstances of Heneker’s award are given in the despatches of Commissioner R. Moor and Lieutenant Colonel A. Montanaro, published in the London Gazette of the same date:

‘The objects of the expedition were:
a) To abolish the slave trade which was actively carried on throughout the entire territories belonging to, and dominated by the Aro tribe.
b) To abolish the fetish of the Aros known as “Long Juju,” which, by superstition and fraud caused many evils amongst the Ibo tribes generally, and to all the outlying tribes of the entire protectorate, who continually appealed to it. While this Juju existed it was impossible to establish effective government in the territories.
c) To open up the whole of the Ibo country lying between the Cross River and the Niger to civilization and trade of collecting the natural products of their country and developing it to the best advantage.
d) To introduce a currency in lieu of slaves, brass rods, and other forms of native currency that existed in the territories, and which from their nature and cumbersomness were opposed to advance in any direction.
e) Finally, to establish throughout the territories a labour market to take the place of slavery.

A few days before the operations commenced a most deplorable massacre of some 400 men, women and children, mostly women and children, was carried out in the hinterland of the Opobo district, at a town called Obegu. The Aros had long threatened to attack the tribes friendly to the government, and though the people of Obegu had been warned to keep careful watch, they were unfortunately caught napping by a conglomerate force of the various sections of the Aro tribe, together with other Ibos unfriendly to them, and their town was destroyed with the slaughter of the people above mentioned. This gave another object and duty to the Field Force, viz., that of capturing and bringing to justice the natives responsible for this bloodthirsty massacre, in the carrying out of which one section of the Aro tribe alone, the Abams, who were great head hunters, are reported to have obtained 200 heads...

Dispositions were as follows... No. 4 Column, consisting of 19 Europeans, 1 Native officer, 479 Native rank and file, 1 M/m gun, 1 7-pr. gun, 1 rocket tube, 2 Maxim guns, 13 gun-carriers and 225 general carriers, under the command of Captain (local Major) W. C. G. Heneker, Connaught Rangers, concentrated at Itu, with orders to make feint advances towards Aro-Chuku and so cause the enemy to keep the bulk of his forces in the corner of the country where the capital lay...

The Scouts 4 sections of Infantry, 1 M/m gun, 1 7-pr. gun, and a Maxim, under the command of Major Heneker, marched out of Esu-Itu on the morning of December 8th. At a distance of 1 1/2 miles from camp the enemy was discovered by the Scouts to have established himself in a thickly wooded ravine. The line of Scouts was strengthened on each flank by a section, and the guns were brought up to the front. The enemy for a time held the ravine tenaciously, but was unable to stand the case shot and Maxim fire, which searched his position from a hill overlooking it, and he retired, taking up another position on some high ground behind the ravine. He was again driven out of this position by shrapnel and case shot. The country becoming now fairly open, the enemy was slowly driven back on his final position. Here he made a most determined stand, and as our fire appeared to make no impression, Major Heneker decided to outflank him simultaneously on both flanks. This movement was most successfully carried out by Captain Venour, D.S.O., who, working his men round through the scrub thereby exposed a long line of deep trenches to enfilade fire. The “Cease Fire” was then sounded and the whole line advancing, charged into the trenches and turned the enemy out at the point of the bayonet. Our casualties were only two men killed, this being due to Major Heneker’s good dispositions and to the admirable way in which the Scouts performed their duties...

At Ikotobo, on January 26th, the enemy treacherously ambushed a water picket under the command of Lieutenant J. Wayling, Canadian Militia and Southern Nigeria Regiment, and, but for the initiative taken by Major G.B. Hodson, I.S.C., and the conspicuous gallantry displayed by that Officer, as well as by Captain M.L. Goldie, R.A., and Second Lieutenant R.H.D. Tompson, R.A., the picket would have been annihilated, as well as the carriers whom it was guarding. Major Hodson called for volunteers, and without waiting to see if any one was following him, he rushed across the stream under a very heavy cross fire from the enemy. He was followed by Captain Goldie and Second Lieutenant Tompson. These three officers held the opposite heights until the killed and wounded, numbering 7, were withdrawn, and the picket had formed up to cover the retreat of the whole party. Returning with reinforcements the same evening, Major Heneker inflicted summary punishment upon the enemy...

On February 12th, Major Heneker, hearing that the enemy was prepared to make a strong stand, attacked him at Ikorodaka. The attack opened soon after dawn in a thick mist. The Scouts found the enemy strongly entrenched in the market place outside the town, and a very heavy fire was suddenly opened on them. Major Heneker turned the enemy’s flanks, and our casualties, owing to the thick mist and the smoke from the enemy’s guns hanging low, were but few, but the fog much impeded our movements. The whole of the road from the market place to the town was systematically entrenched, and it took the column 2.5 hours to get into the town, fighting all the way. Our casualties in this engagement were – Natives, 2 killed, 12 wounded...

Leaving a garrison at Aba, the column resumed its march to Bende on the 4th. No great opposition was met until the 14th March. On that day and the following the people of Onor and Omoba offered strenuous resistance to the column from behind the usual trenches. The enemy was invariably driven back by outflanking, and finally pursued for several miles by a light detached column under Major Heneker, who inflicted severe punishment and captured a thousand sheep and goats. The column reached Bende on March 16th. The casualties sustained by this column throughout its march were – Natives, 1 killed, 4 wounded...

The following are the names of Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and men whom I desire to bring to your notice... Captain (local Major) W. C. G. Heneker, Connaught Rangers. A cool and resourceful Officer. He commanded various columns with great success, notably at the taking of Aro-Chuku and Ikorodaka.’

Mentioned in Commissioner R. Moor’s Despatch for services in the Benin Teritories 1899 London Gazette 14 September 1900: ‘Captain W. C. G. Heneker, Connaught Rangers, whose knowledge of the territories was invaluable, which, with the energy and zeal he displayed contributed largely to the success.’ Further mentioned in the same Gazette by Brevet Major C. H. P. Carter, Commandant, Niger Coast Protectorate Force for services with the Central Division Expedition in February and March 1899, and also in the Benin Territories Expedition in April and May 1899: ‘Captain W. C. G. Heneker (Connaught Rangers), Niger Coast Protectorate Force, who acted as Intelligence and Survey Officer, ably assisted me by his intimate knowledge of the country, and throughout the operations was conspicuous for his dash, energy and tact.’

Mentioned in Commissioner R. Moor’s Despatch for services in the Ishan and Ulia countries to the north-east of Benin City London Gazette 18 April 1902: ‘The force engaged consisting of 223 officers and men, was absent from headquarters from 1 March to 23 May 1902, and in actual contact with the enemy from 9 March to 8 May, during which latter period there was some very severe fighting. The casualties amounted to 25, or 11 percent in the force, and 17 in the carrier column. All wounds were severe and three soldiers died of wounds. The operations were entirely successful, unfriendly tribes making absolute submission. I strongly recommend the services of Captain (local Major) W. C. G. Heneker, Connaught Rangers, for consideration. He had command of the force and conducted the operations to a successful and satisfactory issue.’

Mentioned in Acting High Commissioner L. Probyn’s Despatch and granted a Brevet Majority for services in Southern Nigeria between 7 July 1902 and June 1903 London Gazette 28 October 1904: ‘On the 22nd February 1903 Captain and Brevet Major Heneker, D.S.O., in command of a force, entered the Igarra country (a triangular district lying in the fork made by the Niger and the Anambara Rivers), with instructions to capture Chief Adukukaiku, a bandit who for some time past had terrorised his neighbours. After a careful reconnaissance on the previous day, the force advanced on the 24th February to the only crossing over a river four miles from Oforatshi. At this point strenuous resistance was met. “The stream here is swift running water about 30 yards wide, with high and very steep banks, and, from what the guides said, unfordable. There was one narrow slippery log by which to cross, and half of that under water. The enemy had built a stockade, with mud walls at intervals all along their bank, which commanded the log and our side of the river.” (Major Heneker’s report). “The 75 millimetre gun was brought to bear on the stockade, and the troops so placed that the enemy’s fire might be subdued as far as possible, while one section endeavoured to force the passage and seize the stockade. The section selected for this dangerous work dashed across the log, and drove the enemy out, extending in the bush on the far side to cover the crossing of the remainder...”

Despatches six times for services during the Great War London Gazette 1 January 1916, 15 May 1917, 11 December 1917, 20 May 1918, 20 December 1918 and 5 July 1919.

General Sir William Charles Giffard Heneker was born on 22 August 1867, and was educated at Bishop’s College School, Lennoxville, Canada, and the Royal Military College, Kingston, Canada. He entered the army as a Second Lieutenant in the Connaught Rangers, 5 September 1888, being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, 12 February 1890; and Captain, 10 March 1897.

He was employed in the Niger Coast Protectorate from 19 June 1897 to 31 December 1899, and with the West African Frontier Force 1 April 1900 to 31 July, 1903, serving in the Benin Territories Expedition as Intelligence and Survey Officer, 1899 (Despatches and Medal with clasp). He became Brevet Major 31 July 1901 and served in Southern Nigeria, 1902, as Second-in-Command of the Southern Nigeria Regiment, West African Frontier Force; commanded the Ulia and Ishan Expeditions, and various Columns in the Aro Expedition (Awarded D.S.O., Despatches twice and Medal with two clasps). He was invested with the insignia for his D.S.O. by the King on 18 December 1903. He also commanded the operations in the Ibeku-Olokoro country, 1902 (clasp); operations against the Chief Adukukaiku of Iggara and the operations in the Afikpo country (Despatches, Brevet of Major and clasp).

He became Major 16 February 1907, and was given the Brevet of Colonel 24 October 1907; D.A.A. and Q.M.G., Orange River Colony District, 21 April, 1906 to 20 April, 1910; Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding 2nd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment at Peshawar, India, 10 April 1912; Temporary Brigade Commander, 1st Peshawar Infantry Brigade, 1912; Rawalpindi Infantry Brigade (temporary), 1913 and 1914; Commander, 1st Infantry Brigade, Quetta, October 1914; and was one of the King’s Aide-de-Camps from October 1907 to June, 1917.

He served in the European War as Temporary Brigadier-General commanding the 54th Infantry Brigade, British Expeditionary Force, 13 March to 14 December 1915; was severely wounded; promoted Colonel, 10 April 1916; commanded the 190th Infantry Brigade, Royal Naval Division, France, 29 October to 8 December 1916; Major-General (substantive, 3 June 1917), commanding the 8th British Division, 9 December 1916 (C.B., 1916); formed and commanded the Southern Division of the Rhine, holding a portion of the Bridgehead east of Cologne, March to October 1919; commanded Independent Division, Rhine Army, October 1919 to February 1920; and the Rhine Garrison, Cologne, from March, 1920. He was made Commander of the Legion of Honour, 1918, a K.C.B. in 1919 and a K.C.M.G. in 1922. He wrote one book, Bush Warfare, published in 1906. General Sir William C. G. Heneker, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O. died in London on 24 May 1939, aged 71 years.