Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (10 & 11 May 2017)

Date of Auction: 10th & 11th May 2017

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £7,000 - £9,000

A Great War 1918 Albert Medal for Land awarded to Private J. McLaughlin, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, attached 157th Trench Mortar Battery, in saving the lives of his gunpit crew when a stokes mortar shell was set to explode - he ran with it out of the pit and threw it away the very second it exploded, blowing off his hand

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land, bronze and enamel, the reverse officially engraved ‘Presented by His Majesty to Pte. James McLaughlin, 1/5th. Bn. Arg. & Suth’d. Highrs. (Attd. 157th. Trench Mortar Battery), for Gallantry in saving life in France on the 2nd. August, 1918’, in slightly damaged case of issue, nearly extremely fine £7000-9000

Footnote

Provenance: Christie’s, April 1991.

A.M. London Gazette 15 October 1918:

‘On the 2nd August, 1918, Private McLaughlin, in the course of his duty, was examining a Stokes mortar shell in a gunpit in which there were nine other men and about 150 Stokes shells, when the striker of the shell gave way and ignited the fuse, timed to explode in thirteen seconds. McLaughlin warned the others, and taking the shell with him, ran from the pit by the narrow rear exit and along a sap which he had difficulty in reaching, as the ground was slippery. It was necessary to traverse this sap for some distance to ensure that the inevitable explosion did not effect the men or the shells in the gunpit. The shell exploded as McLaughlin was throwing it clear and blew off his hand. His action undoubtedly saved the lives of all the men in the gunpit.’

James McLaughlin served with the 1st/5th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Great War, and was awarded his Albert Medal, the only one awarded to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, near Bailleul, France, whilst attached to the 157th Trench Mortar Battery.