Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (18 & 19 July 2018)
Date of Auction: 18th & 19th July 2018
Sold for £14,000
Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000
Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; 1914-15 Star (2 Lieut. G. H. S. R. V. De Gaury, Hamps. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Capt. G. H. S. R. V. De Gaury); General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Southern Desert, Iraq (Capt. G. H. S. R. V. De Gaury, Essex R.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Coronation 1937; Iraq, Kingdom, Active Service Medal, with clasp for Southern Kurdistan 1930-31, contact marks, otherwise very fine and better, the Southern Desert Iraq clasp rare to the British Army (11) £4000-5000
FootnoteM.C. London Gazette 18 July 1917:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the greatest gallantry and initiative in organising and leading bombing attacks. Although subjected to heavy machine gun and rifle fire he captured an important enemy post. His fine example and disregard of danger were of great value to his men.’
Gerald Simpson Rutland Hillairiet Vere de Gaury was born at Paddington on 1 April 1897. Commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment in August 1914 he served throughout the war in France, Belgium and at Gallipoli, during which he was wounded four times and awarded the Military Cross. He served in Gallipoli with the 10th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment from June 1915 until he was wounded at Chunuk Bair on 10 August. He then joined the 1st Battalion in France and Belgium in July 1916, and was with ‘B’ Company, 1st Hampshires in the Battle of Arras, on the left flank, when he won his Military Cross. He commanded ‘C’ Company 1st Hampshires at the Battle of Broodseinde (Passchendaele, 4 October 1917), and was wounded during operations in the summer of 1918. He returned to the Battalion in August 1918, in command of ‘B’ Company, and was wounded during the attack on Drocourt-Queant Line on 2 September 1918, shot down by machine-gun fire, some six bullets being later found in his right leg.
After the war he was employed with the Iraq Levies, April 1924 to January 1927; with the Iraq Army, February to September 1927; and was specially employed under the Air Ministry, September 1927 to June 1928 and March to May 1930. He took part in the operations against the Akhwan in the Southern Desert of Iraq, from January to June 1928, and was one of a small handful of British Army officers to receive the medal with this clasp.
His lifelong connection with Arabia and its peoples began when he was posted in 1924 to Iraq which, despite excursions elsewhere, remained his deepest and most personal interest until the 1958 revolution. He was one of the very few whose services brought him into close and lasting friendship with the ruling families of Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In his early years he served with the British Mission and with R.A.F. Command taking part in operations in Kurdistan and Southern Iraq. In 1935 he accompanied Sir Andrew Ryan, the first British Minister to Saudi Arabia, on his first visit to King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud at Riyadh.
In 1936-39 he was Political Agent in Kuwait and in the winter of 1939-40 again visited Riyadh as special emissary to Ibn Saud. He returned to Iraq as special envoy to his friend the Regent, Prince Abdul Illah, during the Rashid Ali Revolt of 1941 and took part in liaison with the rebels leading to their surrender. After the Iraq campaign de Gaury rejoined the Army to raise and command the Druze Cavalry which took part in General Maitland Wilson’s campaign against the Vichy French in Syria. His second-in-command in the Druze Cavalry was none other than Wilfred Thesiger, another great Arab expert. Other wartime assignments, including attachment to the staff of the British Minister of State in Cairo, involved de Gaury in other Arab liaison missions, amongst these being the visit to the U.K. by Prince Faisal (later King of Saudi Arabia) in 1943.
De Gaury’s travels in the Middle East continued until 1965 and took him further afield than Saudi Arabia and his beloved Hashemite Iraq. In 1956 he negotiated copper and mineral exploration rights in Muscat and Oman, and in 1962 at the age of 65 he visited the Imam’s cave stronghold in war torn Yemen. He died at his home in Brighton on 13 January 1984, aged 86.
A noted author, his wartime publication, Saudi Arabian Notebook (Cairo 1943) was followed by twelve other diverse works from Arabia Phoenix in 1946, an account of his first journey to Riyadh and the then new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to Traces of Travel in 1983, an autobiographical selection of episodes and anecdotes from his life. His works included Rulers of Mecca (1950), a history of the Hashemite family who ruled Mecca for over a thousand years, and biographies of the ill-fated Hashemite dynasty in Iraq, Three Kings in Baghdad, and of the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, on whom he wrote an obituary notice for the Iraq Times. He was a founder member of the Anglo-Iraqi Society and was also the editor of the first edition in English of Through Wahhabiland on Camelback by Barclay Raunkiaer.
Sold with four of his publications: Arabia Phoenix (1946), Arabian Journey (1950), The Road to Kabul (1981), and Traces of Travel (1983).