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

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £20,000

Estimate: £20,000 - £30,000

The unique Victorian D.C.M. and two dated Bars group of five awarded to Sergeant, later Captain, T. Healey, Cameron Highlanders attached Egyptian Army, a veteran of nearly two decades of conflict in Egypt and the Sudan, he killed the celebrated Dervish leader Emir Nur el Kanzi in hand to hand combat, was wounded at least 5 times during the course of his military career, and Mentioned in Despatches on four separate occasions

Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R., with Second Award Bar dated ‘28th April 1887’, and Third Award Bar dated ‘3rd August 1889’ (2070. Sergt. T. Healey. 1/Cam’n: Highrs. 30th Dec: 85.) suspension claw tightened; Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, 4 clasps, Tel-El-Kebir, The Nile 1884-85, Toski 1889, Gemaizah 1888 (2070. Sergt. T. Healey. 1/Cam’n: Highrs.) clasp carriage reconstituted between 2nd and 3rd clasps; Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (Lt. T. Healey. A. Tpt.); Khedive’s Star, undated, unnamed as issued; Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 5 clasps, Hafir, Sudan 1897, Abu Hamed, The Atbara, Khartoum, unnamed as issued, the last four clasps contemporary tailor’s copies, light contact marks, very fine (5) £20000-30000

Footnote

Provenance: Christie’s, March 1988.

D.C.M. awarded for the battle of Giniss, 30 December 1885. Recommendation submitted to the Queen, 16 March 1886.

D.C.M. Second Award Bar for the engagement at Sarras, 28 April 1887. Recommendation submitted to the Queen, 17 September 1887 (General Order 176 of 1887). The only D.C.M. awarded for this action.

D.C.M. Third Award Bar for the battle of Toski, 3 August 1889. Recommendation submitted to the Queen, 19 February 1890 (Army Order 112 of 1890). The only D.C.M. awarded for this action.

Thomas Henry Healey was born in May 1859, and attested for the 57th Brigade in 1878. He was posted to the 1st Battalion, Cameron Highlanders later the same year, ‘at the age of 18 years; was promoted Sergeant on March 1, 1881, and Colour-Sergeant a few years afterwards. He served with the regiment throughout the Egyptian campaign of 1882, and was present at the battle of Tel-El-Kebir (medal with clasp and Khedive’s Star); also throughout the Nile expedition of 1884-85 with the Egyptian Army (clasp, ‘Nile 1884-85’). He served as Sergeant-Major of the 9th Soudanese Battalion, Egyptian Army, throughout the operations of the Soudan Frontier Field Force in 1885-86; was present in Fort Kosheh during its investment, - December 1 to 30, 1885, - and at the engagement at Giniss, under General Sir F. C. A. Stephenson, on December 30, 1885 (silver medal for distinguished conduct in the field). He was also in action at Sarras in May 1887, when he killed the celebrated Dervish leader Nur Hamza [sic - it was Emir Nur el Kanzi], and gained possession of his sword and spear, receiving five wounds himself in the course of the hand-to-hand fight (Mentioned in Despatches, awarded clasp to Distinguished Conduct Medal). Second Lieutenant Healey, was also present at the actions of Arguin and Toski, near Wady Halfa, in 1889, and at various other skirmishes on the Soudan frontier. He has served continuously with the Egyptian Army since early in 1883.’ (Extract as appeared in the United Service Gazette, and then reproduced in The 79th News, 1 November 1895)

Having been relieved at Fort Kosheh by Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stephenson on 29 December 1885, Healey took part in the action at Giniss the following day. His 9th Sudanese worked in concert with his parent regiment to attack and disperse the Dervish force, and the Historical Records of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders adds the following:

‘The Cameron Highlanders and the 9th Soudan Battalion of the Egyptian army, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Everett, took the village of Absari at the point of the bayonet, and afterwards occupied and burnt the village of Giniss. All the enemy’s standards, five guns, and his ammunition and nuggars fell into the hands of the British and Egyptians... For operations of the Soudan frontier field force, those officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, not already in possession of it received the Egyptian war medal. Colonel St. Leger, Lieutenant-Colonel Everett, and Major Money were mentioned in Sir Frederick Stephenson’s despatches and received the Distinguished Service Order, and Sergeant-Major J. Emslie and Sergeant I. Healy [sic] (Sergeant-Major of the 9th Soudan Battalion) were awarded the silver medal for distinguished conduct in the field...
In the beginning of May [1887] Sergeant Thomas Healy [
sic] of the regiment, who had been acting as Sergeant-Major of the 9th Soudan Battalion of the Egyptian army, in which capacity he had won the Silver Medal for distinguished conduct in the field at the engagement at Giniss, again greatly distinguished himself in the hand-to-hand fight with the dervishes at Sarras on the Soudan frontier.
On this occasion he killed the celebrated dervish leader Nur Hamza [
sic], and gained possession of his sword and spear, receiving five wounds himself in the course of the action.’

Slaves of Fortune: Sudanese Soldiers and the River War, 1896-98, by R. Lamothe adds additional details to the action at Sarras, one which left the dervishes with 150 dead, the loss of ten standards and a large amount of arms and ammunition:

‘In the spring of 1887 the IXth Sudanese Battalion also formed the main body of an Egyptian coup de main at Sarras, another borderland action along the Nile, defeating an advance guard of two hundred Mahdists under Nur el Kanzi some 35 miles south of Wadi Halfa... Sarras (27 April 1887) was a notable victory in the mind of British commanders because it was, unlike the action at Giniss, “fought by Egyptian troops, entirely independent of British or other support.” Of the three hundred men of the IXth who participated, thirteen non-commissioned officers and men were killed; and two officers and twenty-two non-commissioned officers and men were wounded.’

Following on from the Egyptian success at Sarras, Healey found himself to the fore again at Toski, 3 August 1889. The superior discipline of the 9th Sudanese and other native troops, combined with a handful of British troops (predominantly from the 20th Hussars), routed the Mahdist force in a seven hour engagement. The dervish force was decisively defeated with the loss of approximately 1,000 men, including its leader Emir Abdel Rakman Wad-el-Nejumi. For his gallantry at Toski, Healey was awarded the final Bar to his D.C.M.

In October 1895, after 17 years and 144 days’ service in the ranks, Healey was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Cameron Highlanders. He was immediately seconded back to the Egyptian Army and served with the Transport Department as part of the Dongola Expedition in the operations of 7 June and 19 September 1896 (M.I.D. London Gazette 3 November 1896). He was in command of the Transport of the Flying Column, including for the action of Abu Hamed, 7 August 1897 (M.I.D. London Gazette 25 January 1898), and was promoted Lieutenant in April 1898. Healey took part in the Nile Expedition of 1898, and was present at the battles of the Atbara and Khartoum (M.I.D. London Gazette 24 May 1898; Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class).

Healey’s name was noted for consideration for extra-regimental promotion in the London Gazette of 15 November 1898, and received a Captaincy in his parent regiment in August of the following year. He left the Egyptian Army in October 1900, went on half pay in March 1902, and finally retired in May 1904.

Keown-Boyd’s Soldiers of the Nile provides a fitting tribute, ‘Healey’s service record is quite astonishing. In the first place he was the only holder of the D.C.M. with two bars prior to World War One. Secondly he was the only British NCO (so far as can be ascertained from sparse records) to have served ten years with the same Egyptian Army Battalion (9th). However, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of his career is that he survived seventeen years of almost continuous active service, much of the time without the privileges of an officer, sustaining half a dozen wounds and on at least one occasion suffering from severe sun-stroke, in one of the worst climates in the world.’

Captain Healey died in April 1928. His D.C.M. being the first ‘triple’ D.C.M. to ever be awarded, and the only one for the Victorian era. The D.C.M. was illustrated on the frontispiece of P.E. Abbott’s Recipient’s of the Distinguished Conduct Medal 1855-1909.

Sold with the following original documents relating to the recipient: Commission appointing Thomas Henry Healey, Second Lieutenant, dated 9 October 1895; and Contract of Secondment to the Egyptian Army signed by Brigadier-General Sir Hubert Kitchener, dated 10 February 1896.