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

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £2,200

Estimate: £200 - £240

Pair: Lieutenant-Colonel C. E. Nicholson, New South Wales Lancers, later Australian Light Horse Regiment and Sea Transport Staff

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast (Capt. C. E. Nicholson. N.S.W. Lrs:) officially engraved naming; British War Medal 1914-20 (Lieut-Col. C. E. Nicholson. A.I.F.) good very fine (2) £200-£240


Charles Edward Nicholson was born 1 January 1854 in West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia. He was crown lands agent at Coonabarabran from 1882 but resigned in 1888 to return to Maitland to farm. The same year he joined the New South Wales Lancers as a Trooper under Captain Cracknell and was quickly promoted to the rank of Sergeant, then Second Lieutenant and, as First Lieutenant in 1900, he was selected for a command in South Africa during the Boer War. From February 1900, the third contingent of New South Wales Lancers under Temporary Captain Nicholson were engaged in continuous scouting under General Sir J. P. D. French for 8 months in Cape Colony, Orange Free State and the Transvaal. On 5 May 1900, Nicholson’s draft of 40 officers and men joined the remainder of the regiment, now attached to the Inniskilling Dragoons, 1st Cavalry Brigade under Major Allenby and took part in the advance on Pretoria. Service which saw Nicholson appointed Honorary Captain on 25 February 1901 and commended for his gallant work by Allenby, who wrote on 18 December 1900:
‘Captain Nicholson, of the New South Wales Lancers, has been under my command during about six months of the campaign, the New South Wales Lancers having been attached to the regiment under my command. During that time he has done excellent work, and has shown on all occasions great daring, skill and judgement. He not only carried out orders well and intelligently, but showed great reliance and initiative in different positions: I consider him a very valuable officer.’

Nicholson’s actions in this period are frequently cited in ‘Featherbed Soldiers - The N.S.W. Lancers in the Boer War 1899-1902’ by N. C. Smith and C. V. Simpson but he received no formal recognition, indeed, despite the continuous contact with the enemy throughout their tour, the N.S.W. Lancers were to receive relatively little in the form of honours or awards.

After returning to New South Wales, Nicholson served for some time as Adjutant to the Fourth Australian Light Horse Regiment and qualified for the rank of Major at the head of the Commonwealth military list in 1907. Major Nicholson then succeeded to the command of the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment but resigned on being returned to Parliament as the member for Maitland. He was awarded the Volunteer Force Long Service Medal and Volunteer Officers Decoration but retired from military service in 1912 due to his growing political commitments.

During the Great War, Nicholson was back in uniform however, firstly with the Hunter River Lancers and the Australian Light Horse as a Major, and then on the Sea Transport Staff from 1916 to 1917 as a Lieutenant-Colonel. His command of the Troops on the Warilda which left Brisbane on 8 October 1915, bound for Suez, qualifying him for the 1914-15 Star in addition to the British War and Victory Medals. Having retired from politics in 1925, he died in Maitland in 1931.

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