Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 July 2019)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019

Sold for £8,500

Estimate: £2,400 - £2,800

An important Great War D.S.O. group of six awarded to Brigadier-General H. R. Cumming, late Durham Light Infantry, who was killed in a Sinn Fein ambush during the Anglo-Irish War whilst Commanding the Kerry Brigade, at Clonbanin, Co. Cork, on 6 March 1921

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek (Capt: H. R. Cumming. Durham Lt. Infy.); 1914-15 Star (Major H. R. Cumming.); British War and Victory Medals (Brig. Gen. H. R. Cumming.); France, Third Republic, Legion of Honour, Officer’s breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with rosette to riband, minor enamel damage to central mottos on last, otherwise good very fine or better (6) £2,400-£2,800


Provenance: Dix Noonan Webb, September 1998.

D.S.O. London Gazette 4 June 1917.

Hanway Robert Cumming was born on 9 October 1867 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry on 8 June 1889. Promoted Lieutenant on 28 July 1891, and Captain on 24 November 1897, he served in South Africa during the Boer War and was present at the Relief of Ladysmith, including the action at Colenso; and the actions at Vaal Krantz, Pieter’s Hill, and Laing’s Nek. For his services in South Africa he was twice Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 22 February and 10 September 1901), and was awarded the Brevet of Major on 29 November 1900. He saw further service during the Great War, both with the Durham Light Infantry and on the Staff, firstly in Egypt from December 1915 to February 1916, and then on the Western Front from March 1916 to May 1917, and again from March to November 1918. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on 29 March 1916, he commanded the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, from August to November 1916, and was promoted temporary Brigadier-General on 23 November 1916. For his services during the Great War he was awarded the D.S.O. and the French Legion of Honour 4th Class; was twice Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 15 May 1917 and 20 December 1918); and was awarded the Brevet of Colonel on 1 January 1919.

The Clonbanin Ambush

Proceeding to Ireland, General Cumming was killed in the famous Sinn Fein ambush at Clonbanin, Co. Cork, which was carried out on the afternoon of 5 March 1921; Lieutenant Maligny, Army Service Corps, and two men were also killed, and one officer and five men wounded. Cumming, in a touring car, was in convoy accompanied by three Crossley tenders, containing an escort of the East Lancashire Regiment, together with a Rolls Royce Armoured Car, when it ran into a well planned ambush. The convoy was brought to a sudden halt by a hail of fire from a Hotchkiss gun and rifles:

‘The moans of wounded military were clearly audible above the din of battle. Soldiers taking cover by the roadside answered the shots directed at them from the north and south. A tall officer leapt from the touring car as it careered into the fence. In answer to an I.R.A. call to surrender, he defiantly replied: “Surrender to hell! Give them the lead,” as he dived for cover at the other side of the road. Those were the last words of Brigadier-General H. R. Cumming, D.S.O., for they had scarcely been uttered when he fell, shot through the brain by a bullet from an ambusher’s rifle. He was the first British General in Ireland to take civilian hostages on his lorries and his escort that day at Clonbanin carried a hostage who escaped during the fighting.’

Sold with copied research.