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

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £7,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A Great War 1916 Albert Medal Second Class for Land group of five awarded to Corporal A. E. Feldwick, London Regiment, for his gallantry in apprehending, along with Lieutenant Rathbone, a deranged soldier who was running amok with loaded rifle and fixed bayonet in the trenches on the night of 6 May 1916. Recorded as being severely wounded by a grenade during the incident, he was later captured by the Germans at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and taken Prisoner of War

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented by His Majesty to Corporal Arthur Edward Feldwick, 8th. Bn. The London Regiment, for Gallantry in saving life in France on the night of the 6th. May 1916’; 1914-15 Star (349, Cpl. A. E. Feldwick, 8-Lond. R.); British War and Victory Medals (349 Cpl. A. E. Feldwick. 8-Lond. R.); Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, G.V.R. (370031 Cpl. A. E. Feldwick. 8-Lond. R.) the reverse of the AM dented and with contact marks from the star, otherwise nearly very fine (5) £6000-8000

Footnote

A.M. London Gazette 4 August 1917 (in a joint citation with Captain (then Second Lieutenant) W. L. C. Rathbone, London Regiment):

‘On the night of the 6th May, 1916, as a working party under Lieutenant Rathbone was proceeding down a communication trench, they were fired upon from close quarters. On enquiry Lieutenant Rathbone ascertained that the shots came from a soldier who had run amok, and had posted himself with loaded rifle fixed bayonet further down the trench. Lieutenant Rathbone borrowed a rifle and accompanied by Corporal Feldwick advanced along the trench until in view of the mentally deranged man. They then advanced with rifles at the ready; the officer calling upon the man to surrender. Receiving no reply they then dropped their rifles and rushed him, and after disarming him took him to the nearest dressing station.’

Second Lieutenant Rathbone’s own account of the action, dated 7 May 1916, states: ‘I was taking a working party along Cabaret Road and had nearly reached the artillery positions when I heard a shot and the bullet seemed to pass close to the party. I concluded that it had probably come from an incinerator and took no notice. A little further on the artillerymen shouted to us to stop, which I did thinking some guns were going to fire. As nothing happened for some time I called out to know what was the matter. The artillerymen then shouted “There is a man who has gone dotty further up the trench with a loaded rifle”. This explained the shot and as the trench is shallow I ordered the men to get down. The artillery did not appear to be making any attempt to deal with the situation so I borrowed a rifle - loaded - from Corporal Feldwick of the 8th and told him to get another and load that. I then worked my way along until I could see the madman and ordered him to put his hands up. He took no notice so I walked towards him with my rifle at the ready. As soon as I got near enough I dropped my rifle and grasped that of the man, holding it so that he could neither shoot nor use his bayonet. The Corporal and others then rushed up and collared him. The bayonet was fixed and the rifle was at full cock with a round in the chamber and one on the magazine. The man was with difficulty removed to the dressing station in Hospital Road. I do not know to what regiment the man belonged. The two men of my own party who were nearest were Corporal Feldwick and Rifleman Haynes, both of the 8th Battalion. Some of the artillerymen must also have seen what occurred.’

The recipient’s own account, dated Villers-au-Bois, 7 May 1916, states: ‘On the night of the 6th May whilst on working party under Mr. Rathbone, 15th Battalion, proceeding through the Cabaret Road at 8:15 p.m. on the way to the R.E. Dump, we were surprised at having a rifle shot fired at us; a little further along the trench we were warned by some Royal Field Artillery men that there was madman in the trench in front of us. Mr. Rathbone and myself loaded rifles and waited for the man and called upon him to surrender. No receiving any reply Mr. Rathbone and myself rushed the man and after taking away his arms handed him over to the Royal Army Medical Corps.’

A note in one of the reports suggests that the soldier who ran amok in the trenches belonged to the Royal Irish Rifles.

Arthur E. Feldwick served with the 8th (Post Office Rifles) Battalion, London Regiment during the Great War on the Western Front from 18 March 1915. According to D. V. Henderson, G.M., in Heroic Endeavour, ‘Corporal Feldwick was severely wounded in a grenade incident during his attempt to disarm the soldier.’ He was subsequently captured by the enemy at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on 21 May 1916 and taken Prisoner of War, being held for the rest of the War at Kriegsgflgr camp in Holland.

Note: Captain Rathbone’s Albert Medal group was sold in these rooms on 21 September 2007.