Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (1 & 2 March 2017)

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £3,800

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

A Boer War ‘gallantry’ D.S.O. group of three awarded to Lieutenant A. F. de Trafford, South Staffordshire Regiment

Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Transvaal, Wittebergen (Lieut: A. F. de Trafford, D.S.O., S. Staff: R.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Lt. A. F. de Trafford. D.S.O. S. Staff. Rgt.) extremely fine (3)


D.S.O. London Gazette 27 September 1901: ‘Augustus Francis de Trafford, Lieutenant, 3rd South Staffordshire Regiment For services during the recent operations in South Africa.’

Augustus Francis de Trafford was born on 27 October 1879, son of Augustus Henry de Trafford and Gertrude Mary (née Walmesley). He died in hospital after a lingering illness on 1 June 1904.

When a memorial to Lieutenant de Trafford was unveiled, Colonel Raitt said of him: “Here, among those who knew him, there is no need for me to say he was a well-loved comrade. You all know that his amiability of disposition, straightforwardness, modesty, and charm of manner would have been sure to endear him to those around him. But we also call him a most gallant comrade, and to show you these words also are used in all sincerity. I would like to give you two instances of his conduct in action. In June and July 1900, he was with a wing of the battalion under my command at a place called Willow Grange, near Ficksburg, in the Orange Free State. The enemy's position was two or three miles in front of us. The intervening ground was a plateau running from our position up to theirs. One day we went out to cut barbed wire from the farm fences in front that we required to strengthen our defences. The Boers came out and shot at us, but did no harm. Apart from the incident I am about to relate, it was an insignificant affair. I left Augustus de Trafford with half a company on a little kopje to our right rear, in order to prevent the Boers working round under cover of the edge of the plateau, to enfilade us. When we had got all the wire we needed, I rode back to the kopje where I could get a better view, in order to see when I could safely retire the covering parties. It appears that the Boers had tried to get round our flank, and were under cover in some rocks at the edge of the plateau about 300 or 400 yards away. I did not know they were there, and those at the kopje, no doubt thinking I knew, never told me. I saw two soldiers lying alone a short distance in front away from their section. I asked what they were doing, and said they were to be ordered to rejoin it. I never meant Augustus de Trafford himself to go to them. The next thing I saw was he walking quietly up to them. The Boers opened fire on him, they had the exact range, and the bullets were striking the ground all round. Horrified at the result of my order, I shouted to him to run. He would not run, but walked quietly up to them, gave them their orders, and returned. Every moment I expected to see him drop. Well, I think a man might be brave enough, and yet have run without even waiting to be told to do so. At this time he was a subaltern in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, and there was some difficulty about getting his commission in the line. I had an opportunity some time after of relating this incident to the General, who at once interested himself in the matter, and got his commission. I think, therefore, we may fairly say he gained his commission by his gallantry in action. The next incident was related to me by Major Williams, of our battalion, who was himself afterwards killed in action, and by Major Going, who is here today. It occurred with the Mounted Infantry near Vereeniging, in the Southern Transvaal, in July 1901. They were being closely pressed by a very superior force of Boers; de Trafford's section, which was out in front, was ordered to fall back to a ridge, where the remainder of the regiment were. While they were doing so, he saw Major Williams' horse shot. He at once rode up to him and begged him to take his. Major Williams refused, and told him to go on after his section. He would not, and before Major Williams could persuade him to do so his horse also was shot. The Boers were right on to them, and they were surrounded and captured. Major Williams reported this incident, and it gained him the Distinguished Service Order”.