Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (3 December 2020)

Date of Auction: 3rd December 2020

Sold for £3,000

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

A fine ‘1914 first battle of Ypres’ D.C.M. group of four awarded to Private George Hall, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, who, with two Second Lieutenants from his battalion, accounted for at least 30 Germans from a strong party digging a trench within fifty yards of their own position; their action was rewarded with two D.S.O’s and a D.C.M., and was graphically illustrated in Deeds that Thrill the Empire

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (8444 Pte. G. Hall. 2/O. & B.L.I.); 1914 Star, with clasp (8444 Pte. G. Hall. 2/Oxf: & Bucks: L.I.); British War and Victory Medals (8444 Pte. G. Hall. Ofx. & Bucks. L.I.) together with related ribbon brooch, contact wear and polished, good fine and better (4) £2,000-£2,600


D.C.M. London Gazette 17 December 1914:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and good work on the 3rd November 1914 in advancing from his own trench and assisting in driving away a party of the enemy who were coming to dig a new trench, commencing within 30 yards of his own line. 30 of the enemy were shot down on this occasion.’

George Hall came from Eynsham, Oxfordshire, and served in France with the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry from 14 August 1914. He later transferred as No. 469958 to the Labour Corps. The story of this action, with some inaccuracies, was graphically told in Deeds that Thrill the Empire in the following terms:

‘How Second-Lieutenants Pendavis And Pepys And Private Hall Killed Thirty-Seven Germans.

A particularly gallant and enterprising action was performed by two young officers and a private soldier of the 3rd (sic) Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the early hours of November 3rd, 1914, during the first Battle of Ypres. About 5 a.m. that morning a sentry reported that the enemy were entrenching themselves in a wood directly in front of the trenches occupied by the battalion. He could hear them not far off. On learning this, Second Lieutenant Pendavis at once volunteered to go out and ascertain if the information were correct and another young officer, Second Lieutenant Pepys, and a private named Hall offered to accompany him. They discarded their overcoats, and the officers having substituted bandoliers and rifles and bayonets for their Sam Browne belts and revolvers, the three climbed over the parapet, and creeping cautiously forward, came upon a strong party of Germans engaged in digging a trench within forty or fifty yards of the British trenches. Making their way as noiselessly as possible through the scrub, they got within some fifteen paces of the unsuspecting enemy, when the two young officers took cover behind trees, a little distance apart, and, kneeling, levelled their rifles; the private lay along the ground between them and a little way behind. All three rifles rang out almost simultaneously, and, at that point-blank range, with deadly effect. The Germans were taken utterly by surprise, and owing to the thick mist and the rapidity of the firing, they probably imagined that it was an attack in force.
Some bolted, leaving their rifles behind them, while those who stood their ground fired wildly. One of them, however, caught sight of Lieutenant Pepys and took careful aim at him; but, happily, Lieutenant Pendavis got in his shot first, and the German dropped dead before his finger could press the trigger. Finally, the rest of the Huns made off, leaving no less than thirty-seven of their number dead or dying on the ground - a fine bag, indeed, to fall to only three “guns,” not one of whom had received so much as a scratch.’