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

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th July 2017

Sold for £60,000

Estimate: £40,000 - £50,000

The Zulu War medal awarded to Corporal James Bushe, 2nd Battalion 24th Foot, who was wounded in the nose during the defence of Rorke’s Drift, by a bullet which had just killed Private Cole, and mentioned by Lieutenant Chard in his account of the action specially written for Queen Victoria; Bushe was one of only 10 survivors of the 24th Foot wounded in the defence - four of whom won the Victoria Cross

South Africa 1877-79, 1 clasp, 1877-8-9 (2350 Lce. Corpl. J. Bushe. 2-24th Foot.) minor edge bruises, otherwise good very fine and a rare casualty £40000-50000


Provenance: The Kuriheka Collection, Dix Noonan Webb, June 2006.

James Bushe was born in the Parish of St John, Dublin, and enlisted there for the 24th Foot on 14 September 1870, 18 years old and a tailor by trade. He served with the 2nd Battalion in the Kaffir War in 1878, and in the Zulu War in 1879, when he was a Private in “B” Company during the defence of the Mission Station at Rorke’s Drift, on which occasion he was slightly wounded as described in the following extract from Lieutenant Chard’s letter to Queen Victoria:

“I was glad to seize an opportunity to wash my face in a muddy puddle, in company with Private Bush (sic) 24th, whose face was covered with blood from a wound on the nose caused by a bullet which had passed through and killed Private Cole 24th. With the politeness of a soldier, he lent me his towel, or, rather, a very dirty half of one, before using it himself, and I was very glad to accept it.

In wrecking the stores in my wagon, the Zulus had brought to light a forgotten bottle of beer, and Bromhead and I drank it with mutual congratulations on having come safely out of so much danger.”

Appointed Lance-Corporal shortly afterwards, on 10th February, Bushe left the Cape in January 1880, to spend seven months serving in the Mediterranean before moving to India as a recently appointed Lance-Sergeant in August 1880. He re-engaged at Secunderabad in December 1880, to complete 21 years service, and reverted to Private at his own request in October 1881. Appointed Lance-Corporal once more, he went to Burma in May 1886, where he served until November 1888, earning the I.G.S. medal with clasp ‘Burma 1887-89’ as a Corporal, to which rank he had been promoted in April 1887. After a further two and a half years in India, Bushe returned to the U.K. in May 1891, where he was discharged on 10 October 1891. Sold with copied discharge papers.

24th Foot casualties at Rorke’s Drift amounted to 4 killed or died of wounds and 2 wounded in the 1st Battalion; 9 killed or died of wounds and 8 wounded in the 2nd Battalion - a total of 13 killed and 10 wounded.