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

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Date of Auction: 1st & 2nd March 2017

Sold for £15,000

Estimate: £14,000 - £18,000

Family Group:

A Crimea D.C.M. group of three awarded to Private J. Keen, 13th Light Dragoons, who rode in the Charge of the Light Brigade and was severely wounded in the right leg by canister shot during the Charge, 25 October 1854 - his Crimea Medal was personally presented to him by Queen Victoria in May 1855
Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (John Keen, 13th. Light Dragoons); Crimea 1854-56, 3 clasps, Alma, Balaklava, Sebastopol (Pte. Jno. Keen, 13 Lt. Drags.) contemporarily engraved naming; Turkish Crimea 1855, British issue (John Keen. 13th Light Dragoons) later impressed naming, pierced with straight bar suspension, severe edge bruising to first two with suspension claw reaffixed on second, otherwise nearly very fine

Cabul 1842 (Edmund Keen, 3rd. K.O.L.D. No. 1100) with steel clip and straight bar suspension, very fine (4)


Provenance: Wallis and Wallis, December 1964; Sotheby’s, February 1975; Christie’s, November 1988.

D.C.M. recommendation dated 13 February 1855.

John Keen was born in Pimlico, London, on 28 July 1834, and attested for the 3rd Light Dragoons at Westminster on 28 June 1848. He transferred to the 13th Light Dragoons on 1 July 1853, and embarked for the Crimea with the Regiment on 8 May 1854. He took part in the celebrated charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava on 25 October 1854, where he was severely wounded in the right leg by canister shot. He was assisted from the the field by Private George Gibson, also of the 13th Light Dragoons, and was sent to the Military Hospital at Scutari, from whence he was invalided to England via Malta in February 1855. He was personally presented with his Crimea Medal by H.M. Queen Victoria at a ceremony held on Horse Guards Parade on 18 May 1855.

He was discharged on 18 October 1856, after 4 years and 253 days’ service, his discharge papers stating: ‘Unfit for further service. He suffers from gun-shot wounds of the right leg sustained in action at Balaklava on the 25 October 1854 - from the nature of the wounds a canister-shot entered the lower and outer part of the leg, winding around the leg and coming out at the front of the upper third of the leg and in its course injuring the fibula. He is liable to have them re-opened and pieces of bone come away.’ Admitted as an out-patient of Chelsea Hospital on discharge, in later life Keen was a member of the Balaklava Commemoration Society in 1879, and signed the Loyal Address on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. He died in Plumstead, Essex, on 25 August 1911, and is buried in the local cemetery.

8 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to members of the 13th Light Dragoons, 7 of which were recommended on 13 February 1855, and all were almost certainly for gallantry during the charge of the Light Brigade; the eighth was awarded to Sergeant Priestly for gallantry at Bulganak on 19 September 1854.

Edmund Keen was the brother of John Keen. Another member of the family, Thomas Keen, served with the 3rd Light Dragoons during the First Sikh War, and was present at the battles of Moodkee and Ferozeshuhur.

Sold together with a photographic image of John Keen.