Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (24 & 25 February 2016)
Date of Auction: 24th & 25th February 2016
Sold for £2,300
Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000
Colonel Harbord describes a hot encounter at Slaap Kranz on 27 July 1900, one of several of first hand accounts published in the regimental history of the Scots Guards.
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, complete with swivel-ring suspension and riband buckle, the intervening suspension ring a replacement; The Royal Victorian Order, M.V.O., Member’s 4th Class breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, the reverse officially numbered ‘104’; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Transvaal, Wittebergen (Lt. Col. Hon. C. Harbord, C.B., Scots Gds.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Lt. Col. The Hon. C. Harbord, C.B., Scots Gds.); Jubilee 1897, silver; Delhi Durbar 1903; Coronation 1911, the first with loose reverse centre-piece and chipped enamel wreaths, the second with abrasions to white enamel arms, otherwise very fine and better (7) £2500-3000
FootnoteC.B. London Gazette 23 November 1900.
M.V.O. London Gazette 9 November 1902.
Charles Harbord was born in June 1855, the eldest son of Charles, 5th Baron Suffield, who ‘was in his day a well known social figure, who served the Royal Family in various affairs with loyal devotion and especially King Edward, to whom he was attached by ties of intimate friendship’; his mother, the youngest daughter of Henry Baring of Cromer Hall, Norfolk, was Lady of the Bedchambers to Queen Alexandria.
Educated at Eton, he was appointed an Ensign in the Scots Fusilier Guards in April 1873 and was advanced to Lieutenant in April 1875. His early days in the regiment at Shorncliffe were marked by his predilection for unconventional costumes, thus his ‘low-necked trousers’ and boots said to have been made by the Armourer-Sergeant; fellow officers were also much entertained by his ‘chaff’ on The Leas with ‘the pretty nurse with her push-buggy.’
Having then served as A.D.C. to Lord Lorne, the Governor-General of Canada from November 1878 until December 1880, where ‘he was the life and soul of the vice-regal party’, he was likewise employed under three successive Viceroys of India, namely Lord Dufferin (1882-84); Lord Ripon (1884-86) and Lord Lansdowne (1888-94). He was advanced to Captain in April 1887 and, as described in one obituary notice, proved a popular officer:
‘In India he was a great favourite, not only with the sahibs, but with the natives, from a maharaja to the humblest syce or kitmaga. A great sportsman, he knew the jungle better than most Englishmen; a good rider and polo player, he kept some wonderful ponies. A story is told which shows his delightful candid nature. An examination was being held, in Hindustani, presided over by a stuffy old Indian Colonel. On seeing the paper, which was a very stiff one, Charles marched up to the desk, and, depositing the paper, said to the Colonel, “Well, I fear I am wasting my time, and am sure I am wasting yours, so I wish you a very good morning.” ’
Appointed a Groom-in-Waiting in Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1895, his duties took him to Balmoral in the following year, where his popularity remained undiminished, one courtier describing him as ‘a very nice frank good-hearted man.’
Having been promoted to Major in May 1896, he was present on parade at Windsor Castle in July 1899 - as Company Commander of Left Flank, 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards - on the occasion of the presentation of the State Colour to the Regiment by Queen Victoria.
A little over four months later, Harbord was appointed second-in-command of the 2nd Battalion, in which capacity he was embarked for South Africa in May 1900. He was subsequently employed in operations in the Orange River Colony in May-November 1900, including the actions at Biddulpsberg and Wittebergen in July; so, too, in subsequent operations in the Transvaal in early 1901.
He was awarded the C.B. and given command of the 1st Battalion, in which capacity he participated in further operations in the Orange River Colony in the period July 1901 until May 1902 (Queen’s Medal & 3 clasps; King’s Medal & 2 clasps). Here, then, a period of command in which Charles Harbord won the affection of all ranks, his sense of humour - however trying the conditions - rarely failing to shine. As one ‘distinguished Guards General’ later recalled:
‘Once, during a halt on the veldt, one of the men called out to a comrade named Charles, asking for a “fag”. The Commanding Officer, entering into the spirit of the fun, at once gave the contents of his case to the man.’
Mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 10 September 1901, refers), Harbord brought the 1st Battalion home from Cape Town in September 1902, and responded to a welcoming address from H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. He added the M.V.O. to his accolades in the same year; so, too, the Delhi Durbar Medal 1903, during the course of his final appointment in India. He was placed on the Retired List in April 1904.
Succeeding to the title of the sixth Lord Suffield in April 1914, he served as Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard 1915-18 and died in London in February 1924; sold with copied research.