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

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £7,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A good ‘Heavy Brigade’ D.C.M. group of three awarded to Corporal H. Preece, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, who was wounded during the famous charge at Balaklava, 25 October 1854, and was later recorded as ‘hemmed in, with a cossack cavalryman on either side of him. The one on his left attempted to decapitate him by a heavy sabre cut, which nearly severed his nose. Preece’s attention however, was directed to his opponent on the right, whom he cut down. Seeing this, the other cossack fled. Although he had lost a lot of blood Preece went in pursuit and served him in a similar manner’


Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Henry Preece. 4th R. Irish Dn. Gds.); Crimea 1854-56, 3 clasps, Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol (..rpl. H. Preece. 4th. Dragoon Gds.) officially impressed naming; Turkish Crimea 1855, Sardinian issue (Corpl. H. Preece. 4. Dn. Gds.) contemporarily impressed naming, with clip and ring suspension, all suspended from a triple top silver riband buckle in order illustrated, suspension claw re-affixed on second and repair to central post making suspension non-swivel, contact marks and heavy edge bruising throughout, good fine or better (3) £6000-8000

Footnote

Provenance: Sothebys, November 1988.

D.C.M. recommendation dated 1 January 1855.

Henry Preece was born in Witley, and attested for the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards on 28 February 1851. He served with the Regiment in the Crimea, and took part in the famous charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava, 25 October 1854. He was wounded during the charge, and an article from the Shrewsbury Chronicle, dated 3 November 1893, adds the following:

‘Wednesday last being the 39th Anniversary... There was an interesting company at the London Apprentice Inn, Cotton Hill, on Wednesday night. Assembled to do honour to the two local survivors of the charge of the Heavy Brigade. Corporal H. Preece, late of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards and Trumpet Major Monks who served in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.... Cpl. Preece was for 10 years in the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards and although in his 64th year, he still looks “Hale and Hearty.” He was in the Crimea and at Balaklava, Inkermann and Sebastopol. He wore his three medals on Wednesday evening. The medal for the Crimea has three clasps, he was awarded the “Distinguished Conduct Medal” for conspicuous gallantry in the charge of the Heavy Brigade under General Scarlett at Balaklava, during which Preece was hemmed in, with a cossack cavalryman on either side of him. The one on his left attempted to decapitate him by a heavy sabre cut, which nearly severed his nose. Preece’s attention however, was directed to his opponent on the right, whom he cut down. Seeing this, the other cossack fled. Although he had lost a lot of blood Preece went in pursuit and served him in a similar manner to his companion returning afterwards through the Russian Cavalry to his own corps. His gallant conduct had been observed by his commanding officer, who paid him a high compliment. Corporal Preece claims the honour of being the first British Dragoon to enter Sebastopol after its fall. Being at the time orderly to General Sir Edward Cooper Hodges.’

After military service Preece was employed as Landlord of the London Apprentice Hotel, Cotton Hill, Shrewsbury. He died in June 1907.

1 of 8 D.C.M.’s awarded to the Regiment for the Crimean Campaign, only 2 of which were awarded to recipients who were wounded at Balaklava.