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

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £460

Estimate: £100 - £140

Map of the Battle of Omdurman, a contemporary sketch plan of phase one of the battle, drawn by Captain J. K. Watson, King’s Royal Rifle Corps for Mr. Williams of the Daily Chronicle. The map showing the disposition of the opposing armies at 7am on 2 September 1898 and the line of Ali Wad Helu’s attack on the Egyptian Cavalry at the Kerrai Heights and also the line of first attack towards the British units on the Nile, with the positions of Lyttleton, Wauchope, Maxwell, Macdonald, Lewis, the 32nd Field Battery and the Gunboats all depicted, paper on board, ink and pencil, 29cm x 25cm, aged and a little rubbed but generally good condition £100-£140


James Kiero Watson was born on 19 June 1865, the son of Major-General James Watson, late 60th Rifles, and was educated at Clifton College and R.M.C. Sandhurst, being commissioned Second Lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 25 April 1885. In 1891 and 1892 he served in Burma, taking part in the operations in the Chin Hills.

Watson was attached to the Egyptian Army in 1894 and posted to the Xth Sudanese Regiment. He was the first Englishmen to meet Slatin Pasha after his escape from captivity at Omdurman. In 1895 he became A.D.C. to Lord Kitchener, a post he held until 1905, and held a close relationship with the Earl until his death in 1916. He served in the Expedition to Dongola in 1896 as A.D.C. to the Sirdar, being present at the operations at Firket on 7 June and Hafir on 19 September. He was mentioned in despatches, received the Egyptian medal with clasp, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order: ‘James Kiero Watson, Captain, King's Royal Rifle Corps. In recognition of services during the recent operations in the Sudan’. He subsequently served in the Nile Expedition, 1897, was awarded the 4th Class Medjidie, and received a clasp to the Egyptian Medal. He was again A.D.C. to the G.O.C. in the Nile Expedition of 1898, and was present at the battles of the Atbara and Khartoum, and was given the Brevet of Major 16 November 1898. After Omdurman he was appointed to the coveted post of Military Secretary in Cairo, trying to restore order to an office disrupted by three years of warfare. However, he was soon back in action, serving with the White Nile Expedition of 1899, taking part in the operations which resulted in the final defeat of the Khalifa at Gedid (Um Debaykarat), as D.A.A.G., Flying Column. He received the 4th Class Osmanieh and two clasps to the Egyptian Medal.

Watson served in the South African War as A.D.C. to Lord Kitchener, 1899-1901, and was present at the Relief of Kimberley. Also in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, being present at Cronje’s surrender at Paardeburg (17 to 26 February). Operations in the Transvaal in May and June 1900, including actions near Johannesburg and Pretoria. Operations in the Transvaal, east and west of Pretoria, July to 29 November 1900. Operations in Orange River Colony, May to 29 November 1900. Operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, 1899-1900. Operations in the Transvaal and Cape Colony, December 1900 to April 1901. Operations in Orange River Colony 30 November to December 1900. He was present at the capture of Pretoria on 4 June 1900 and was created a C.M.G.

In 1901 Captain Watson returned to Egypt as A.A.G. to become Military Secretary once again, but was appointed A.D.C. at Headquarters by General Wingate, a post he held until 1905. He was promoted Major in October 1902. He accepted the Khedive’s invitation to become his A.D.C., and resigned his commission on 3 May 1905 to become an officer in the Egyptian Civil Service. It was a difficult position to hold in the Khedival Court but Watson soon earned the complete trust of the Khedive. He was created a C.V.O. in 1912 for his services.

The Khedive chose to remain in Europe during the Great War, thus releasing Watson to be recalled and join the British forces in France as D.A.A.G., 1914-15, as Railway Transport Officer. He was next Commandant, Advanced Base, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, in 1915, until he fell sick and was hospitalised. Watson returned to Cairo where he became British Military attache from 1916 to 1920. He was awarded the Legion of Honour (France), Order of the Sword (Sweden), Order of Leopold (Belgium), Order of the Crown (Romania) and created a C.B.E. in 1919.

Having time on his hands in 1920, he returned to the Sudan, before finally retiring in 1922. He was appointed Equerry to the Duke of Connaught in 1939. Lieutenant-Colonel Watson died on I3 January 1942.

Note: Watson’s Orders, Decorations, and Medals were sold in these rooms in May 2016.