Orders, Decorations and Medals (12 June 1991)

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Date of Auction: 12th June 1991

Sold for £1,800

Estimate: £1,600 - £1,800

An extremely rare Sanna's Post D.S.O. to Lieutenant A. S. Way, Durham Light Infantry, later killed in action.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER, V.R., silver gilt and enamel; QUEEN'S SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen (Lieut., Dur. L.I.), good very fine (2)


Lieutenant Arthur Strachan Way was recommended for gallantry at Sanna's Post by Brig.-General Broadwood for assisting to withdraw the guns of 'Q' Battery, R.H.A., under heavy fire. When Broadwood's order came for the guns to be withdrawn, Major Hornby, Captain Humphreys and ten men of the battery alone remained on their feet. The fire from the spruit and the transport was constantly increasing in vigour, and the guns were seventy yards from even the slight cover afforded by the station buildings. Then Hornby and Humphreys set themselves to bring back the guns. Eight gunners responded to their call, and ran back two pieces forty yards. Here these brave men lay down exhausted. Hornby went to the mounted infantry escort and called for volunteers. Lieutenants Stirling, Way, Ainsworth, Grover and Ashburner of the Burma MI., Captain Maxwell of Roberts's Horse, and about four or five men at once responded. These men gallantly faced the withering fire, and, with two gunners, ran back the first two guns to the shelter of the railway embankment; three yet remained and all the limbers. As the men came out towards them the storm of bullets was so violent that they pressed their helmets down on their heads and bent forward as if they were meeting a heavy wind; the horses that were brought out fared even worse then the men. Yet through it all the men who did the work showed the coolness of a parade. Humphreys, for example, had his stick knocked out of his hand by a bullet; he quietly stooped down, picked it up, and walked on. Hornby himself was asked to take cover by Broadwood's aide-de-camp, and replied, 'Perhaps it would be as well, but I have been here for some hours now.' At last, after many failures, four guns and limbers altogether were brought in. One gun and limber had to be left in the open for want of horses to bring them away, and finally five guns, including the one remaining of ‘U', one wagon and one wagon limber were saved. As the mutilated remains of the two batteries of horse artillery trotted to the rear through the line of prone mounted infantrymen, though it was to court death to show a hand, the men, in a spontaneous outburst of admiration, rose to their feet and cheered the gallant survivors. Where all had done so well, distinction seemed impossible, and the authorities had to fall back on Rule XIII of the Victoria Cross Warrant, which provides for selection in the case of collective gallantry. Major Phipps-Hornby was the officer chosen, Sergeant Parker was elected by the noncommissioned, and Lodge and Glasock by the gunners and drivers respectively. There were some who thought that every man who helped to rescue those historic 12- pounders at Colenso and Sanna's Post ought to have received the Cross without exception. Lieutenant Way was awarded the D.S.O., 28 September, 1901, having been mentioned in despatches on September 10th. He was killed in action at Tabaksberg, south of Welcome, on 29 January, 1901, in the fighting with De Wet. His battalion erected a marble cross in his memory at Welcome, and his name is inscribed on a tablet placed in Marlborough College Chapel.