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

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Date of Auction: 19th September 2003

Sold for £900

Estimate: £650 - £750

Major-General Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., G.B.E., K.C.B., first Commander of the Royal Flying Corps, Chief of Air Staff &c., formerly a Major in the 15th Hussars
1887 pattern Heavy Cavalry officer’s sword, blade 89cm by Henry Wilkinson, Pall Mall, London (No 38887) etched with ERVII cypher, Royal Arms, foliage &c., also owner’s monogram ‘FHS’ within a cartouche, plated steel scroll guard, fish-skin covered grip bound with silver wire, in its leather covered field service scabbard with plated steel mounts, minor wear overall and chape dented; Accompanied by an officer’s full dress busby of the 15th Hussars, by Hawkes & Co, Piccadilly, of sable fur, scarlet bag with three lines of flat gold braid, bullion boss to front, gilt chin chain, contained in its japanned tin with brass name plate engraved ‘F. H. Sykes Esq. 15th King’s Hussars’, sable much mothed and poor, lacks liner and hooks for chin chains, plume absent (2) £650-750


See colour plate.

Sword sold by Wilkinson to F. H. Sykes, 16th April 1901.

Frederick Hugh Sykes, born at Croydon, Surrey, on 23 July 1877, had a somewhat chequered education, five years at prep-school and then two years in Paris learning French. Returning to London, he entered a shipping firm and then spent some time working on tea plantations in Ceylon, returning to England via Burma, China, Japan and America. Upon the outbreak of the South African war he took passage to Cape Town and joined the Imperial Yeomanry as a trooper. He was taken prisoner by DeWet’s forces but was soon released. He was next commissioned into Lord Robert’s Bodyguard and was wounded in a commando raid in 1901. Later in that year he joined the regular army and was gazetted to the 15th Hussars. He served in India and West Africa, being promoted Captain in 1908, and passed the Staff College in 1909. One of the early balloonists, he also learned to fly and obtained his pilot’s certificate (No 96) in 1911. In 1912 he became commander of the newly formed Royal Flying Corps, but, on going over to France, he was considered too junior to command the Corps in the field, and became Chief of Staff to Sir David Henderson. There was always great animosity between Sykes and Trenchard, which resulted in Lord Kitchener sending the former to command the Royal Naval Air Service in the Eastern Mediterranean when the Gallipoli campaign was at it’s height. Sykes managed this with conspicuous success and was awarded the C.M.G. Returning to England, he was made responsible for the formation of the Machine Gun Corps. In 1917 he joined the planning staff of the Supreme War Council, and upon Trenchard’s resignation in April 1918, Sykes succeeded him to become Chief of Air Staff with the rank of Major General. In 1919, Trenchard again became Chief of Air Staff and Sykes was shunted into Civil Aviation. He was elected an M.P. for the Hallam Division of Sheffield in 1922. In 1928 he was appointed Governor of Bombay, leaving India in 1933. He became Conservative MP for Central Nottingham 1940-1945. His autobiography, From Many Angles, was published in 1942. Major-General Sykes died in 1954. His R.A.F. sword, Regalia and Orders & Decorations are on display at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon.