Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 & 20 July 2017)

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £4,400

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

The outstanding and rare Cavalryman’s Great War ‘1917’ D.S.O., and ‘Charge at Harbonnieres’ Second Award Bar group of eight awarded to Brigadier-General C. R. Terrot, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and 5th Dragoon Guards, who had already distinguished himself during the Boer War, when he ‘galloped after another [Boer] and, after a chase of a mile, shot him dead with his Mauser pistol.’ He led the 5th Dragoon Guards in one of the regiment’s most famous actions - the charge at Harbonnieres, 8 August 1918. This, one of the last great cavalry charges, culminated in the capture of a train, 2 field guns, 1 howitzer, 2 anti-aircraft guns, 29 German officers, 740 other ranks, and numerous horses and transport vehicles.

As one of Terrot’s men later recounted, “They gave us the order to charge and I remember thinking: ‘At last we are at it!’ We were knee-to-knee, galloping as fast as the slowest horse could run. The whole line came together and we were leaning forward, our swords pointing. We were close to the train and I could see our blokes going in. They were sticking their swords into everyone in sight. A lot of Germans had their hands up and were trying to surrender but our men were skewering them anyway.” Terrot had a horse shot from under him, and also received a wound to the head, during the action.


Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar, silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast (Lieut. C. R. Terrott [sic]. 6/Drgns.) 3rd clasp a contemporary tailor’s copy and sprung on right-hand side; King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps (Lt. C. R. Terrott [sic]. Innis. Dgns.); 1914 Star, with clasp (Major C. R. Terrot. 6/Dns.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (Lt. Col. C. R. Terrot); Delhi Durbar 1911, unnamed as issued; France, Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, gilt and enamel, white enamel damage to points, mounted court-style for wear, light contact marks, otherwise very fine or better (8) £4000-5000

Footnote

Provenance: Christies, November 1987.

D.S.O. London Gazette 4 June 1917.

D.S.O. Second Award Bar London Gazette 15 October 1918:

‘For conspicuous gallantry during an attack. When sent forward to exploit the infantry success, he led his regiment rapidly through the attacking waves and beyond the final objective. When checked by heavy machine-gun fire from a village, and unable to manoeuvre on account of wire, he dismounted and fought his way forward with two squadrons, so enabling his flank squadron to gallop round and operate to the rear of the village. Many enemy were killed, five guns and seven hundred prisoners captured, and the success of the operation was entirely due to the daring and splendid leadership of this officer.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 29 July 1902, 15 May 1917, 20 December 1918 and 5 July 1919.

France, Legion of Honour, Chevalier London Gazette 24 February 1916.

Charles Russell Terrot was born in August 1878, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel C. E. Terrot, Shropshire Light Infantry, of Nether Newith Hill, County Durham. He was educated at Harrow, and served as a Second Lieutenant with the Shropshire Light Infantry (Militia), prior to his commission into the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons in December 1899. He served with the Regiment during the Second Boer War, and is mentioned several times for his gallant conduct in the Regimental History, including at:

Wonderfontein Station, 2 August 1900, ‘The enemy commenced firing at daylight on our outposts and continued all day. One patrol, under Lieutenant Terrot, found the enemy in strength near Goedehoep Farm, but got back with their information under heavy fire.’

Tevereden, 16 October 1900, ‘Lieutenants Terrot and Gibbs were ridden over by the enemy, sticking to their advanced posts. The enemy were unable to make any prisoners as we drove them so rapidly back again, and we held the ground till dusk, sniping and being sniped.’

As part of an ambush by Rimington’s Column in Orange Free State, 2 August 1901, ‘Marching off towards Kroonstad, an ambush of 30 men, under Lieutenants Terrot and Wood, Inniskillings, was left at the farm Blydschap. After the column had moved off, four Boers came down, and were fired on by the ambush, but, owing to bad shooting, only one man was wounded. Lieutenant Terrot galloped after another and, after a chase of a mile, shot him dead with his Mauser pistol.’

Having advanced to Lieutenant in October 1900, Terrot left South Africa with the Regiment in June 1901. He served as Adjutant of the Royal North Devon Yeomanry, October 1905 - October 1908. Terrot was promoted to Captain in March 1906, and returned for service with his parent regiment in India. During his time in India he formed a close friendship with another Captain of the Regiment - one Lawrence Oates, later of Scott’s last Polar expedition fame. Terrot took over as Adjutant from Oates in August 1909, with the latter being given the command of a squadron.

Terrot was promoted Major in August 1911, and was serving with the Regiment in India at the outbreak of the Great War. He sailed with the Regiment from Bombay in November 1914, disembarking at Marseilles on 14 December. The 6th Dragoons served on the Western Front as part of the Mhow Cavalry Brigade, Indian Cavalry Corps. Promoted Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel, Terrot served as a Commandant at a School of Instruction, November 1916 - March 1917, and November 1917 - January 1918.

The Charge at Harbonnieres

Terrot was posted to the command of the 5th Dragoon Guards, 16 April 1918. The Regiment’s War Diary for 3 May 1918, records ‘Lt. Col. C. R. Terrot, D.S.O. and Capt. R. H. Parker motored to La Panne and lunched with His Majesty the King of the Belgians [Colonel in Chief of the Regiment].’

The 5th Dragoon Guards were attached to the Third Army, and by 14 July had moved into a position just outside of Doullens. Here they were employed on reconnaissance patrols. On 5 August, Terrot commenced in marching his men at night towards Amiens. Three days later they formed up as part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at the concentration area west of Longeau and 12 miles east of Harbonnieres. The big Allied Offensive, which was to start on 8 August 1918, was later described by Ludendorff as “the black day of the German Army.”

Terrot’s orders were to pass through the leading Australian 2nd Infantry Division, capture the village of Harbonnieres, the wood 1,200 yards to north of it, and to gain the old Amiens defence line. The Regimental History gives the following:

‘The line Framerville - Vauvillers was to be the limit of their advance. At 10am the regiment (less one troop C Squadron) moved off at a trot in double echelon of squadrons. A Squadron leading, B Squadron on the left, C Squadron with headquarters on the right.... The regiment passed through the leading infantry 1,000 yards west of the second objective and advanced to a point 1,000 yards past the second objective without opposition. A patrol of the Bays was seen south towards Harbonnieres.

A Squadron was then shot at by machine-guns from Harbonnieres, but went straight on and reached the old Amiens defence line which they found unoccupied. After crossing the trench line the squadron was fired on from a train on the railway running from Proyart to the east of Harbonnieres. The train was trying to steam away but was hit by a bomb from an aeroplane and set on fire. The train, carrying nearly 1,000 German soldiers (most whom had just returned from leave), stopped dead. The soldiers began tumbling out of the carriages, some firing at the cavalrymen just a few hundred yards away, some running for cover and many throwing down their rifles and raising their hands.

All the Germans were either killed or captured, some by this squadron and some by B Squadron which had advanced in the left rear of A Squadron and rounded up many of the enemy trying to escape from the train. The 5th Dragoon Guards captured 20 officers, 740 other ranks and 50 horses.

Still advancing, A Squadron was enfiladed by machine-gun fire from the cemetery at the western outskirts of Vauvillers, but reached its objective - the Framerville - Vauvillers road - where it came into dismounted action against the retreating enemy. Some German infantry, transport and two motor-lorries coming out of Vauvillers were captured, as well as the walking wounded and personnel of a casualty clearing station at the Moulin de Vauvillers - numbering about 180 in all. Two anti-aircraft guns, two field guns and one 5.9 howitzer were also captured and the personnel either killed or captured.

Meantime B Squadron, after assisting A Squadron round up the Germans escaping from the train, reached the objective between Framerville and Moulin de Vauvillers and continued its advance. Swinging to the south after crossing the Framerville to Vauvillers road, the squadron reached the small wood 1,300 yards south-south-east of Vauvillers, killing many of the retreating enemy and also capturing transport.

The wood, however, was wired and full of machine-guns and considerable opposition was encountered, apparently organised by a divisional general who is thought to have been an Austrian.

The squadron was now far beyond its objective and so wheeled round, and joined A Squadron on the Framerville - Vauvillers road. C Squadron and headquarters, in order to maintain a footing on the Amiens defence-line and to keep a way open for the other two squadrons to return, were ordered to swing left-handed and occupy the trench-line. Owing to the heavy machine-gun fire and the pressure of wire, and the difficulty of crossing the trench with led horses, the operation was carried out with great difficulty and a considerable number of men and horses were hit.

Lt. Col. Terrot’s horse was hit and he was unable to go on with the other two squadrons. The defence of the trench was then organised, with some enemy in the trench captured, and a message sent back to 1st Cavalry Brigade for reinforcements. A heavy machine-gun fire was meanwhile kept up on the trench to the right. Several small parties of the enemy - who were immediately in front of the trench - were attacked and captured. At 11 am the Australian infantry came up and took over the trench. A and B Squadrons rejoined and the regiment withdrew to the north-west of Harbonnieres.

At 1.30 pm the regiment withdrew to the west of Harbonnieres. Lt. Col Terrot was wounded in the head by a machine-gun bullet and Capt. Winterbottom assumed command.’

Four days later Terrot returned from hospital to resume command of the regiment. On 13 August he received the following telegram from the King of the Belgians:

‘I am very glad to hear of the brilliant part the 5th Dragoon Guards took in the recent offensive, and wish to express to you and all ranks my warmest congratulations.’

The following day the regiment was inspected, and congratulated, by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. Terrot was awarded the Bar to his D.S.O. for his gallantry at Harbonnieres, whilst his second in command, Captain A. D. Winterbottom was awarded the D.S.O. Despite the charge being a great success, the 5th Dragoon Guards also suffered casualties of 1 Officer killed, 6 other ranks killed, 42 wounded, 8 missing in action and 122 horses killed, wounded or missing. The regiment’s action on 8 August 1918, was commemorated when the celebrated Great War artist Fortunino Matania painted The Charge Of The 5th Dragoon Guards At Harbonnieres.

Terrot rejoined the 6th Dragoons in September 1918, and proceeded to command the regiment until December 1921. The following year the 6th Dragoons amalgamated with the 5th Dragoon Guards, and Terrot was appointed to command the combined regiment - 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. He continued in this capacity until April 1926, when he was appointed commanding officer of the Iraq Levies. Terrot returned to India, and was promoted Brigadier in command of the Sialkot Cavalry Brigade in June 1928. He relinquished this command four years later, and finally retired in 1934.

In later life Terrot resided at Tong House in Eastbourne. He joined the Eastbourne Home Guard for service during the Second War, and was appointed its’ commander in November 1943. He relinquished command in Spring 1944, and on 1 May 1944 committed suicide at home using his service revolver.

Sold with an extensive file of copied research, including several photographic images of the recipient from various stages of his career.