Orders, Decorations and Medals (12 June 1991)

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Date of Auction: 12th June 1991

Sold for £15,500

Estimate: £16,000 - £18,000

A fine Victoria Cross group awarded to Major A. E. Ker, Gordon Highlanders, for one of the last V.C. actions of the Great War.

VICTORIA CROSS, reverse of suspension bar engraved (Lieut. A. E. Ker/3rd B. Gord. Highrs. (Attd. 61st B. M.G.C.), reverse centre of the cross dated 21 Mar. 1918; BRITISH WAR and VICTORY MEDALS, M.I.D., (Lieut.), 'V.C.' has been privately engraved after the official naming on these two medals; DEFENCE and WAR MEDALS, privately named, (Major, V.C.); JUBILEE 1935, privately named (Captain, V.C.); CORONATION 1937, privately named (Captain, V.C.); CORONATION 1953, the group mounted as worn, some contact marks, otherwise very fine (8)

Footnote

Victoria Cross, London Gazette, 4 September, 1919

'For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On the 21st March, 1918, near St. Quentin, after a very heavy bombardment, the enemy penetrated our line, and the flank of the 61st Division became exposed. Lieutenant Ker with one Vickers gun succeeded in engaging the enemy's infantry, approaching under cover of dead ground, and held up the attack, inflicting many casualties. He then sent back word to his Battalion Headquarters that he had determined to stop with his Sergeant and several men who had been badly wounded and fight until a counter-attack could be launched to relieve him. Just as ammunition failed his party were attacked from behind by the enemy with bombs, machine guns, and with the bayonet. Several bayonet attacks were delivered, but each time they were repulsed by Lieutenant Ker and his companions with their revolvers, the Vickers gun having by this time been destroyed. The wounded were collected into a small shelter, and it was decided to defend them to the last and to hold up the enemy as long as possible. In one of the many hand-to-hand encounters a German rifle and bayonet and a small supply of ammunition was secured, and subsequently used with good effect against the enemy. Although Lieutenant Ker was very exhausted from want of food and gas poisoning and from the supreme exertions he had made during ten hours of the most severe bombardment, fighting, and attending to the wounded, he refused to surrender until all his ammunition was exhausted and his position was rushed by large numbers of the enemy. His behaviour throughout the day was absolutely cool and fearless, and by his determination he was materially instrumental in engaging and holding up for three hours more than 500 of the enemy.’

Allan Ebenezer Ker was born in Edinburgh on 5 March, 1883, eldest son of Robert Darling Ker, Writer to Her Majesty's Signet. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and University, and was commissioned into the Gordon Highlanders on 11 June, 1915. He was attached to the Machine Gun Corps from 22 August 1916 and proceeded to France with the 61st Battalion. By the end of the war, Ker had been promoted Captain in the Gordon Highlanders and retired shortly after. During the Second World War he was re-employed, with the rank of Major, with the Department of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff at the War Office, as G.S.O. 2. Major Ker died in London on 12 September, 1958.