Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria. To coincide with the OMRS Convention (19 September 2003)

Image 1

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 19th September 2003

Sold for £3,200

Estimate: £1,500 - £2,000

The campaign pair awarded to Mr H. S. S. Pearse, the Daily News War Correspondent throughout the Siege of Ladysmith, and a veteran of many campaigns, including the battle of Abu Klea where he was severely wounded

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, no clasp (Mr. H. S. S. Pearse, “Daily News”); Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 2 clasps, Firket, Hafir, unnamed as issued, nearly extremely fine (2) £1500-2000


Henry Hiram Steere Pearse was born on 13 May 1844, at Yealmpton, Devon. He was educated privately in Penzance, and at Plymiton Grammar School. As a young man he was an architect by profession but he never qualified as such. He was also an enthusiastic Volunteer, and was granted a Commission as an Ensign in the 2nd Devonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in March 1870, and promoted to Lieutenant in November of the same year.

He started to write on military matters for the
Western Morning News, and these articles led to his connection with London journalists. His first important work was that at the great manoeuvres on Dartmoor and on Cannock Chase in 1873, when with the noted correspondent and journalist, Archibald Forbes, he represented the Daily News, with which newspaper he was to be associated until the end of 1900.

His war service started in 1884 with Lord Wolseley’s expedition in the Soudan for the relief of General Gordon. As War Correspondent for the Daily News, Pearse accompanied the Desert Column, under General Sir Herbert Stewart, across the desert, and was present at the fierce battle of Abu Klea on 17 January 1885, when he was severely wounded.

In 1896, Pearse went on the Dongola expedition as War Correspondent for the Daily Graphic, and he received for this service the Khedive’s Sudan medal with clasps for Firket and Hafir. On the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899, he was in Cape Town, where he was representing the Daily News. From there he went to Durban, and was present at Elandslaagte, and at the fighting preceeding the investment of Ladysmith by the Boers. He was in Ladysmith throughout the siege, and although never wounded he had some narrow escapes. The most striking of these occurred on 3 November 1899, when a shell from the Boer battery ‘Long Tom’ passed through the ceiling and partition wall of a colleague’s bedroom in the Royal Hotel where Pearse was living. Pearse had the unexpected pleasure, on 28 Februray 1900, of being reunited with his two sons who were both officers with the relieving column, one in the South Africa Light Horse, the other in Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry.

After the relief of Ladysmith by General Buller’s force, Pearse joined Lord Roberts’ army in the Transvaal, and was present at all the principal actions, including the entry into Bloemfontein, and the captures of Johannesburg and Pretoria. For his services in the Boer War he received the Queen’s South Africa medal. As a hunting man Pearse was well known under his ‘nom de plume’ of ‘Plantagenet’, in which name he wrote week by week in The Field. He also wrote in Land and Water and contributed to other journals.

In 1904, Pearse went by special invitation as a representative English journalist to the World’s Fair in St Louis. His last active journalistic work appeared in the columns of the Morning Post, to which newspaper he contributed within a few weeks of his death. In addition to his numerous articles and despatches Pearse was the author of Four Months Beseiged - The Story of Ladysmith, published in 1900, and The History of Lumsden’s Horse, published in 1903.

Henry Pearse died, exhausted in body and worldly means, at Spetisbury, near Blandford, Dorset, on 1 April 1905, aged 60, after a severe illness from which he had been suffering for some time, and which was no doubt partly due to the privations he had suffered whilst on war service. The medals are accompanied by much research, an original copy of his Four Months Beseiged, and a good archive of original papers and mementos, including a post card front (marked “Ladysmith Siege Post Office Feb. 26th 1900”), a red white and blue rosette with ribbons commemorating the relief of Ladysmith, two autograph letters from Ian Hamilton (one dated from Pretoria, 1 June 1902, mentioning that “I am writing this with the pen that signed the peace last night”), a letter-front from Egypt, typed articles by Pearse, various cheques, receipts, telegrams from South Africa, press passes, railway tickets, etc.