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

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019

Sold for £4,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

The Waterloo medal awarded to Assistant Surgeon Henry Gehse, 2nd Light Battalion, King’s German Legion, one of the regiment’s three medical officers who set up and manned their casualty station in the shed of the kitchen garden at La Haye Sainte farmhouse, the fierce defence of which place must have ensured them a most busy time of it

Waterloo 1815 (Assist. Sur. Henry Gehse, 2nd Light Batt. K.G.L.) fitted with an attractive contemporary silver hinged-bar suspension by means of a post which has caused some damage particularly to the reverse at 12 o’clock, otherwise very fine £4,000-£6,000


Henry (or Heinrich) Gehse was serving in the Peninsula as a Hospital Mate prior to being appointed Assistant Surgeon to the 2nd Light Battalion, King’s German Legion on 3 March 1812. He served in the Peninsula from December 1811 to April 1814, and was present at Vittoria, Bidassoa, Nivelle, Nive, St Etienne and Bayonne. He also served in the Netherlands in 1814, the campaign of 1815 and the battle of Waterloo, including the historic defence of the farmhouse at La Haye Sainte by the 2nd Light Battalion K.G.L. He was transferred as Assistant Surgeon to the 1st Hussars K.G.L. on 6 October 1815, and is shown as such in Beamish’s ‘Complete List of all the officers who were actually serving in the King’s German Legion, at the disbandment of the corps in 1816’. Gehse retired on half-pay as Surgeon by Brevet on 24 February 1816. He is shown on the Hanoverian retired list, living at Grossen Aschersleben, near Halberstadt, Prussia.

Surgeon Gehse’s presence at La Haye Sainte is confirmed in The Longest Afternoon - The 400 men who decided the Battle of Waterloo, Brendan Simms’ exhaustive study of the defence of La Haye Sainte based on personal memoirs, eye-witness accounts, original letters, and documents from the Hanoverian State Archive:

‘Three medics - surgeon Heise, and his two assistants, Müller and Gehse - were there to look after the wounded... Baring stationed one company, about eighty men, in the kitchen garden, under Lieutenant Georg Meyer, to prevent the farm from being surrounded, and in order to maintain communication with the main position on the ridge; surgeon Heise and his two assistants set up their casualty station there in the shed... The German wounded were carried to the casualty station in the recaptured kitchen garden, where they were tended to by surgeon Heise and his assistants. We have no records of their work, but it can only have been gruelling. A report by John Haddy James, the assistant surgeon of the 1st Life Guards, described ‘the hasty surgery ... the awful sights ... the blood-soaked operating table ... the agony of an amputation, however swiftly performed, and the longer agony of a probing.’

Sold with a copy of Brendan Simms’ book and other research.