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

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £14,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

Family Group:

An extremely rare Indian Mutiny D.C.M. group of five awarded to Regimental Sergeant Major H. G. Baker, 61st Foot, later Yeoman Warder, Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard, for the storming of the Delhi Magazine, 16 September 1857, where he captured the Colours of the 41st Native Infantry, having already been wounded during a repulse of a sortie from Delhi, 9 July 1857
Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Serjt.-Major. H. Baker. 61st. Regt.) suspension claw re-affixed, and slack; Punjab 1848-49, 2 clasps, Chilianwala, Goojerat (Se..t. Henry Baker, 61st. Regt.) suspension claw re-affixed; India General Service 1854-95, 1 clasp, Northwest Frontier (2101, Sergt. H. Baker. H.Ms. 61st. Regt.); Indian Mutiny 1857-59, 1 clasp, Delhi (Serjt. Major. H. Baker. 61st. Regt.); Army L.S. & G.C., V.R., 3rd issue, small letter reverse (2101. Serjt.-Mjr. H. Baker. 61st. Regt.) contact marks throughout, fine and better

Three: Sergeant-Major W. E. Baker, Gloucestershire Regiment
Coronation 1902, silver, unnamed as issued; Coronation 1911, silver, unnamed as issued; Army L.S. & G.C., V.R., 3rd issue, small letter reverse (... Sgt. W. E. Baker. Glouc: R.) contact marks to last, nearly very fine (8) £8000-10000

Footnote

Provenance: Christies, November 1990 (H. G. Baker’s medals only, the son’s medals were subsequently acquired).

D.C.M. awarded for the Indian Mutiny. Recommendation submitted to the Queen 29 November 1858.

Henry G. Baker was born in Bethnal Green, London, in 1826, and attested for the 95th Foot at Chatham, in June 1842. He transferred to the 61st Foot in July 1844, and advanced to Sergeant in July 1848. He served with the Regiment during the Punjab Campaign, 1848-49, and was present at the passage of the Chenab, and the Battles of Sadoolapore, Chilianwalla and Goojerat. Baker later provided an account of the action at Chilianwalla, 13 January 1849:

‘Hoggan’s Brigade, consisting of the 36th and 46th N.I. and H.M. 61st, continued to advance through the jungle, when suddenly a heavy mass of Sikh Infantry with guns, appeared close to the right flank of the 61st (which had been exposed). Brigadier General Campbell, who was in command of the Division, and was close to the right flank of the Regiment, ordered Lieut. Wickham, commanding the Grenadier Company to wheel to its right, which he did to the extent of about the eighth of a circle; the other Companies conformed as best they could, coming up independently. When the enemy’s Infantry broke, General Campbell ordered the Companies formed (all were not up, I think) to advance at the double, which we did at the “prepare to charge”, and carried the guns with a rush. Many of the gunners were killed by our fire, some bolted, but many fought to the last and were killed at the guns. Just in front of me there were three guns, one gun was carried off by the enemy most pluckily; horses were brought up (they must have been behind some clumps close at hand, they appeared so suddenly), and the gun was taken off at a gallop up the little glade - this was done as we rushed the guns.’

At Goojerat, Baker ‘carried the Regimental Colour to the field of Goojerat and handed it to the Ensign a short time before the action commenced. I am the only survivor [written in 1892] of the Colour party in that field day.’ (Ibid)

Baker served with Major-General Sir W. R. Gilbert’s Field Force in pursuit of the enemy to the Khyber Pass, March 1849, and with the Expedition to Kohat in February 1850. He served with the Regiment during the Indian Mutiny and was present during the repulse of sorties from Delhi on the 4th, 9th (when wounded in the thigh), 18th and 23rd July 1857. He took part in the assault and capture of Delhi, and distinguished himself on 16 September 1857, on which date the Regiment stormed the Delhi Magazine and Baker captured the Colours of the mutinous 41st Native Infantry.

A narrative, provided by Baker, gives the following for 16 September 1857:

‘The Regiment was formed up before daybreak on the 16th September 1857 in quarter column; the Grenadier company in front. We formed up outside the Church and marched in silence along the College wall in the shade. On arrival near the breach Colonel Deacon gave the word “Charge!” Then the breach was soon mounted and we cleared the Magazine of all Sepoys and thieves, and after a short time closed the gates. But they gave us little peace for in about two hours time they returned in force outside the walls and gave us a good peppering; but we warmed the rascals outside with hand-grenades, so when they found they could not dislodge us they retired and left us quiet.

The breach was defended by six heavy guns - 32 pounders - loaded with grape-shot and facing the entrance to the breach; but the rush of our men was too sudden to permit them to be fired - we captured 186 guns; a very large number of cases of bottled beer, and plenty of rum in bheestie-bags. We remained a few days in the Magazine and found the beer very acceptable, we afterwards moved to the Ajmere gate and then to the College.

The Magazine was defended by the 41st Native Infantry and other Vagabonds. I had the regimental Colour of the 41st for a number of years.

Surgeon Reade received the Victoria Cross for attending the wounded in the streets of Delhi, under a very heavy fire.

Colonel Deacon would not recommend any man for the Victoria Cross. He said that every man had done his duty and if one man received the Victoria Cross his comrades would be jealous. So no one got it.

The 61st Regiment wore all kinds of clothing at the capture of the Magazine, on the 16th September; principally the twill cotton shell jackets and trousers dyed a very ugly khaki - dyed in the Camp before Delhi: - some were in old blue cotton trousers, in fact we were a rough looking lot dressed any how, just as the men fell into the ranks. I myself fractured the seat of my trousers in getting up the breach into Delhi, and it would not have looked very nice if I had my photograph taken then. The men wore the old round forage caps with white covers, which were very dirty, the leather peak covered with a curtain behind to protect the neck. The officers and men wore beards. No water bottles were in use; water when it could be obtained was carried by bheesties in skins (mussucks).

The Colours were not carried into the Magazine. On our arrival in camp before Delhi I took the Colours off the poles and placed them in the paymaster’s Chest, where they remained some time after the Capture of the city. When we got a little quiet I sent an escort to the camp for them and replaced them on the poles. The Colour poles and Cases were fastened to the centre poles of the Quarter Guard tent.’

The Regimental Journal, a century later, added, ‘It was at Delhi, as R.S.M., that he distinguished himself by capturing the Colours of the 41st Native Regiment which had originally mutinied at Sitapur. For his services he was offered a commission but for family reasons refused, and was granted the D.C.M.’

Baker was awarded the L.S. & G.C. in 1860, and subsequently served as Sergeant-Major of the 15th Middlesex Volunteers (London Scottish), 1862-1872. He served as Assistant Executive Officer, National Rifle Association, 1862-1881, and was appointed Yeoman Warder, Tower of London, and Yeoman of the Royal Body Guard in February 1866. Baker filled the place of Thomas Darling of the Scots Greys, and resided at 4, The Parade, Tower of London. He was the oldest serving Yeoman of the Guard on his death, aged 84, in May 1910. Baker was succeeded as Yeoman Warder by Albert Curtis, V.C.

One of 17 D.C.M.’s awarded for the Indian Mutiny, and unique to the 61st Foot.

Walter Edward Baker was the son of Henry G. Baker, and was born in the parish of St. Peters, London. He attested as a Boy Soldier for the Army Service Corps at Aldershot, in March 1879. The following year he was appointed a Bugler, and transferred to the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment in June 1883. He advanced to Sergeant in February 1885, and Colour Sergeant in October 1891. He transferred as Sergeant-Major to the 3rd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment in April 1900, and was discharged 19 April 1909. He followed in his father’s footsteps and was appointed a Yeoman Warder, and had three sons - all of whom went on to serve with the Gloucestershire Regiment.

Sold with a coloured photograph of the H. G. Baker as a Yeoman Warder, and several other photographic images including one of W. E. Baker as a Yeoman Warder.