Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (9 & 10 May 2018)

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Date of Auction: 9th & 10th May 2018

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A Boer War ‘Colenso’ D.S.O. group of eight awarded to Colonel R. F. Meiklejohn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was wounded and taken prisoner at Mons in August 1914, and interned in Switzerland for the duration of the war; he afterwards served with the North Russia Expeditionary Force and was later an intelligence officer in the Baltic

Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamels, complete with top suspension brooch; Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (Lt. R. F. Meiklejohn, 1/R. War. R.); Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, 2 clasps, Relief of Ladysmith, Cape Colony (Capt. R. F. Meiklejohn, D.S.O., Devon. R.) back strap of top clasp cut away to facilitate mounting, official correction to post-nominal letters and part of unit; 1914 Star, with clasp (Major R. F. Meiklejohn. D.S.O. R. War. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Col. R. F. Meiklejohn.) the British War Medal officially re-impressed; Russia, Order of St Vladimir, 4th Class, with swords, gold and enamels, 1908-17 kokoshnik mark and maker’s mark to hilts of swords, maker’s mark on suspension ring; Khedive's Sudan 1896-1908, 2 clasps, The Atbara, Khartoum (Lieut. R. F. Meiklejohn. The Royal Warwickshire Regt.) back strap of top clasp cut away to facilitate mounting, original Spink & Son court mounting, generally good very fine (8) £4000-5000

Footnote

Ronald Forbes Meiklejohn was born at Rawal Pindi, India, on 9 October 1876, son of Captain John F. Meiklejohn, Royal Horse Artillery. He was educated at Rugby, and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 5 September 1896, becoming Lieutenant on 8 April 1898. He served in the Nile Expedition in 1898, taking part in the battles of the Atbara and Khartoum (Medal and Egyptian Medal with 2 clasps). He served in the South African War 1899-1900, taking part in the Relief of Ladysmith, including the actions of Colenso and Spion Kop, and operations in Cape Colony in 1899. Promoted to Captain in April 1900, he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette 8 February and 10 September 1901); received the Queen’s Medal with 2 clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette 27 September 1901) ‘in recognition of services during the operations in South Africa.’ The Insignia were presented by the King on 24 October 1902.

Meiklejohn was attached to the Devonshire Regiment at the battles of Colenso and Spion Kop, and is mentioned in a despatch for his gallantry at Colenso, as related in The Bloody Eleventh, by W. J. P. Aggett, Volume 2:

‘... I desire to bring especially to your notice the behaviour of Lieut. Meiklejohn (R. Warwickshire attached) who, together with Captain Radcliffe carried a board from a farmhouse under heavy fire to bring in a wounded man. The man was reached when Capt. Radcliffe was shot down whereupon Lieut. Meiklejohn dragged him and the man into cover and returned to his post...’ According to his obituary it was this act that resulted in the award of the D.S.O. ‘for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Colenso.’

Captain Meiklejon passed the Staff College and was appointed Staff Captain, Naval Base, Cape Colony District, from June 1904 to May 1906. He was Staff Captain, Coastal Defence, Eastern Command, May 1906 to June 1908; D.A.A. and Q.M.G., Coastal Defence, Scottish Command, April 1910 to April 1914; was promoted Major on 6 April 1914.

Major Meiklejohn went to Flanders with the 1st Warwicks as second-in-command but was wounded on 26 August 1914, just outside the village of Haucourt (battle of Le Cateau) by a shrapnel bullet, which passed through the front of his foot, breaking three bones. He was taken to the village church, which was full of wounded, but, unknown to these men, our troops evacuated the village during the night, and soon after dawn the Germans occupied it. Meiklejohn was captured along with the other wounded, and was sent by train to Germany, arriving at Brunswick on 6 September. His subsequent travails at the hands of the Germans until his eventual internment in Switzerland in May 1916 are told in his own words in his highly detailed debriefing account given at Rossinieres on 19 September 1916 (copy sold with Lot, 10 pp).

Repatriated after the war, Meiklejohn was employed under the Admiralty, 5 April 1918 to 20 January 1919. He was appointed as G.S.O. 2nd Grade, with the Northern Russia Expeditionary Force from 21 January 1919 (St Anne, 2nd Class with swords, and St Vladimir, 3rd Class with swords - both awards confirmed in War Office list, 16 July 1921). After being attached to the Finnish Military Mission in 1921, he was employed for the next six years in the Foreign Service in the Baltic States as an intelligence officer. He died at Cley, Norfolk, on 4 November 1949.

Meklejohn’s diaries from the Sudan Campaign and from the Boer War are held by the National Army Museum Templer Study Centre, Chelsea (Meiklejohn Papers, Ref. 7404/36). See also ‘Our Man in Reval’ by C. G. McKay, Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 9 (1994), No. 1, pp. 88-111. Utilising materials from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the author of this piece examines Meiklejohn’s supply of information to London and Stockholm in 1921 regarding events in Soviet Russia and regarding the alleged Bolshevik subversion and intrigue directed against British imperial interests. Appended are a list of Meiklejohn’s reports located in the Riksarkivet and the texts of four of the reports.