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

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £8,000

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

Six: Squadron Sergeant Major J. M. Simons, 21st Lancers, who rode in ‘D’ Squadron in the charge at Omdurman, 2 September 1898, and subsequently served with the 1st Australian Light Horse during the Great War

Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (3096. L/Sgt: J. Simons. 21/L’crs.); 1914-15 Star (1268 Pte. J. McD. Simons. 1/L.H. Rgt. A.I.F.); British War and Victory Medals (1268 A-CQMS J. McD. Simons. 1 L.H.R. A.I.F.) BWM with official corrections; Army L.S. & G.C., E.VII.R. (3096 S. S. Mjr: J. McD. Simons. 21/Lrs.); Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 1 clasp, Khartoum (3096 Lce. Sgt. J. Simons 21st Lcrs) Regimentally engraved naming, very fine (6) £3,000-£4,000


John McDonald Simons was born in 1872 in Canterbury, England and attested for the 21st Hussars on 13 September 1889. He served with the Regiment in India from September 1890, and was promoted Lance Corporal in 1892; Corporal in 1894; and Lance Sergeant in 1896. In September 1896 he embarked with the Regiment to Cairo for service in Egypt and the following year the 21st Hussars were re-designated the 21st Lancers. He served with the 21st Lancers in the Sudan and is confirmed as having taken part in the famous Charge at Omdurman, on 2 September 1898, as part of ‘D’ Troop under Captain F. H. Eadon. The Squadron, in the centre of the charge, entered the khor at its widest point and where the Dervishes were most densely packed, as a result of which it suffered the highest number of fatalities. Eadon afterwards wrote home to his father:

‘We wheeled into line to the right and galloped, when I at once saw lumps of them concealed in a nullah within 100 yards of us, and by that time bullets flew by in hundreds. I turned round to my squadron and said, “Now, men, get your lances down,” and off I galloped as hard as I could split, and strange to say I got through them with nothing worse than a blow on the head, which only crushed my helmet, and a sword cut, slight, on my horse’s quarters.
Not so the poor squadron, which suffered more than any of the others. I had 11 killed and 13 wounded out of the total casualties.’

Simons remained in Egypt and the Sudan until November 1899 when the regiment returned to Dublin, Ireland. Promoted Sergeant in 1900 and Squadron Sergeant Major in 1904, he was transferred in April 1906 to the City of London Imperial Yeomanry (Rough Riders) as a permanent staff instructor, remaining in this position until discharged to a pension at his own request in January 1909.

Following the outbreak of the Great War, Simons, having now emigrated and settled in Sydney, Australia, attested for the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment on 31 March 1915 and was initially posted to the Light Horse Training Squadron to instruct new recruits. Quickly promoted to Sergeant in July 1915, he embarked for the Middle East aboard S.S. Argylshire, landing at Suez on 30 November 1915 and, remaining in the Canal Zone, the 1st Light Horse was engaged in patrols against the pro-Turkish Senussi tribes in January and February 1916. Simons was attached to the Camel Transport Corps and promoted Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant in March 1916 and two months later the 1st Light Horse moved across the canal into the Sinai desert due to a Turkish threat in the area. In July 1916, General Harry Chauvel moved his Anzac Mounted Division and based them at Romani in the Sinai, however, rheumatism in the field saw Simons hospitalised in July and later the same month he was invalided back to Australia in the Hospital Ship Seang Choon. He was discharged as medically unfit on 3 October 1916.

Sold with the recipient’s two photograph albums containing a combined 78 images, 50 of which depict the recipient’s long military career in India, Sudan, United Kingdom, Australia and the Middle East. Comprising many good quality images of the recipient in uniform, both individually and in group portraits with officers and fellow N.C.O.s., together with shots taken in the field and family portraits. Of note is an image of a dismounted squadron of the 21st Lancers captioned ‘Rest before the attack on Khartoum’. A fine pictorial record of the recipient’s career.

Note: This lot is available for viewing in Swanbourne, Western Australia, by appointment with our Australasian representative, John Burridge.