Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (12 November 2020)

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £9,000

Estimate: £10,000 - £15,000

The ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ D.C.M. group of four awarded to Captain M. Clarke, 18th Foot, late 8th Hussars, who performed his duties as Troop Sergeant-Major in the Crimea with energy and zeal ‘though badly wounded at Balaklava’; granted a commission in 1857, he was present with his regiment throughout the Central Indian Campaign during the Mutiny, ending his days in Dublin as Paymaster, 2nd Battalion, 18th Royal Irish Regiment

Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Lieut. M. Clarke. 8th Hussars); Crimea 1854-56, 4 clasps, Alma, Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol (Lieut. M. Clarke, 8th Hussars.) officially impressed naming; Indian Mutiny 1857-59, 1 clasp, Central India (Cornet. M. Clarke, 8th Hussars.) pierced and plugged just below suspension claw, retaining rod loose; Turkish Crimea 1855, Sardinian issue, a contemporary striking by ‘J.B.’, unnamed as issued, with swivel ring suspension, all with top silver riband buckles, light contact marks, nearly very fine (4) £10,000-£15,000


D.C.M. Recommendation dated 12 January 1855; according to Abbott’s roll, a replacement medal was ordered on 5 August 1861.
Note: Clarke’s Crimea Medal and D.C.M. are both official replacements named to him as a Lieutenant, his rank in 1861. It is likely that the originals were lost during the Indian Mutiny.

Michael Clarke was born on 4 March 1818 at Bohola, Castlebar, Ireland and enlisted in the 8th Hussars at Hounslow, London on 2 January 1836, giving his age as 18 years. Advanced to Sergeant in 1849 and to Troop Sergeant-Major in March 1854, the following month he embarked for the Crimea in the H.T. Shooting Star, arriving in September. He was subsequently present at the battles of Bulganak and Alma, before participating in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava.

The official casualty list, published in the London Gazette of 17 November 1854, records that Clarke was slightly wounded at Balaklava on 25 October 1854. His original Statement of Services - W.O. Form 360 B - states that he was ‘Wounded at Balaklava’ and also confirms that his Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded for Balaklava. In contrast to the official casualty list, an original booklet, published circa 1871, entitled ‘Testimonials in Favour of Captain M. Clarke’ (with lot) which includes a detailed Record of Service, describes his injuries at Balaklava as having been severe. The booklet, also containing references from seven former officers of the 8th Hussars written at the time of his transfer from the regiment in March 1867, includes the following testimony from Edward Seager, Colonel, Late Lieutenant-Colonel 8th Hussars, also suggesting that his injuries during the charge were more than slight:
‘I have much pleasure in stating that I have known Lieutenant Michael Clarke, late of the 8th Hussars for a period of nearly thirty years, during which time he served with me in that regiment... I believe that he was never absent from his duty, except when severely wounded in the charge at Balaklava...’
This is further backed up by another from E. Tomkinson, Lieutenant-Colonel Unattached, late Captain and Brevet-Major 8th Hussars:
‘I have known Lieutenant Clarke of the 8th Hussars since 1843, soon after which he became Sergeant in the Regiment, afterwards Troop Serjeant-Major of the Troop I commanded, from 1851 to 1857, and I can truly say that I always found him a most valuable Non-commissioned Officer, especially during the Crimean War; during the whole of which he was present with the Service Troops, though badly wounded at Balaklava. I cannot speak too highly of the energy and zeal with which he performed his duty during the Campaign.’

Following Balaklava, Clarke and the remaining members of the regiment were present at the Battle of Inkermann, although only in a minor role, and he thereafter took part in the actions at Kertch and Tchernaya and the Siege and Fall of Sebastopol.
He returned to England, via Turkey, in May 1856 and was then posted with his regiment to Ireland before embarking for India. Gazetted Cornet, without purchase, on 16 October 1857 and appointed Adjutant, without purchase, on 24 November 1858, Clarke served during the Mutiny in the Central Indian Campaign as a Staff Officer, Left Wing 8th Hussars from 15th April 1858 until 30 April 1859. He is recorded as being present at Kotah 30 March 1858, Pupuldah 8 April 1858, Rajpootanah 15 December 1858 and the Pursuit of Rebels 15 December 1858 to 30 April 1859. Promoted Lieutenant (by purchase) on 11 May 1860, he remained with his regiment in India until 12 May 1862 after which he was stationed in the United Kingdom. A broken leg resulting from a kick by a Troop horse ended his cavalry career and he transferred as a Lieutenant to the 59th Foot on 15 March 1867. He saw two further periods on the Staff, firstly as Adjutant, District Recruiting Staff, at Liverpool from 22 April 1868 until 1 April 1870 (becoming Captain unattached on 1 April 1869) and then as Acting District Paymaster, Control Department, at Inverness from 1 April 1870 until 30 September 1873. He then received half-pay until 13 June 1874 when he was appointed Paymaster, 2nd Battalion, 18th Foot and then on 1 April 1878, Paymaster, Army Pay Department (attached 18th Foot). He died while still serving, in Dublin, on 27 December 1878 and is buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, County Dublin, Ireland, his headstone inscribed:
‘To the memory of Captain M. Clarke, Paymaster 2nd Bn. 18th The Royal Irish Regiment. Late Adjutant 8th (Royal Irish) Hussars, died 7 Dec 1878, aged 61 years. He was one of the six hundred at Balaklava.’

Sold with the recipient’s Statement of Services with hand written entries up to the time of his transfer to the 59th Foot in 1867; A booklet of testimonials printed circa 1872 containing references submitted in 1867 from seven senior officers of the 8th Hussars and a record of service; the recipient’s eight original Commissions documenting his progression from Cornet of the 8th Regiment of Light Dragoons in 1857 through to Paymaster of the Army Pay Department in 1878; and other documents, including a photographic image of the recipient in uniform wearing his medals.