Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (13 January 2021)

Date of Auction: 13th January 2021

Sold for £3,000

Estimate: £2,400 - £2,800

A fine and most interesting Great War 1917 ‘Passchendaele’ D.S.O. group of eleven awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel C. E. Lembcke, Northumberland Fusiliers, late Royal Fusiliers and Gloucestershire Regiment: having been sentenced to death as a spy in German South West Africa in 1914, he was later released and went on to hold several commands on the Western Front, being twice wounded before continuing to serve with distinction in revolutionary Peru

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902 (Lieut. C. E. Lembeke. [sic] Glouc. Rgt.) officially engraved naming; 1914-15 Star (Capt: C. E. Lembcke. R. Fus:); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Lt. Col. C. E. Lembcke.) mounted as worn and housed in a contemporary Spink & Son fitted leather case; Chile, Republic, Order of Merit, Commander’s neck badge, 65mm including condor suspension x 60mm, silver, gilt and white enamel, damage to enamel and finial balls in places, in case of issue; Peru, Republic, Commander of the Order of Ayucucho, 70mm x 51mm, gilt and enamel, in case of issue; Order of Aeronautical Merit, 64mm including condor suspension x 46mm, 1st issue, gold (54g), in case of issue; Bronze Cross of the Society of the Founders of Independence, 1st issue; Centenary of Independence Medal 1921, gold (30g); Centenary of the Battle of Ayacucho Medal 1924, gold (24g); together with the recipient’s Peruvian Aviation Observer’s wings, silver, early issue, light contact marks to Q.S.A. and B.W.M., otherwise very fine or better (12) £2,400-£2,800


Provenance: The foreign awards acquired by the vendor direct from the granddaughter of the recipient and reunited with the British awards.

D.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1918.

M.I.D. London Gazettes 18 December 1917 and 27 December 1918.

Charles Edward Lembcke was born Carlos Eduardo Lembcke in 1882 in Lima, Peru. The son of a Peruvian diplomat, he moved with his family to England in 1886 and was educated at Harrow. Wishing to join the British Army, he became a British subject on 24 July 1900 at the age of 18 and, having anglicised his name, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 4th (Militia) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment on 10 September. He served with them on St. Helena, guarding Boer prisoners at Deadwood Camp, and was promoted Lieutenant in the Militia in October 1901 (Q.S.A. with no clasp). Leaving St. Helena, he served on Malta from 28 November 1901, having been seconded for service with the royal Garrison Regiment. Appointed Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers on 3 June 1905, he was then placed in the Special Reserve of Officers, and was appointed Lieutenant, Regular Army in February 1908. Assigned to the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) Special Reserve in 1907, he was promoted to Captain in June 1911. A man of wide ranging interests, he had been elected a member of the Aero Club of the United Kingdom in 1909 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1912.

In early 1914, while still a Captain in the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Lembcke was granted special permission by the War Office to spend a shooting holiday in German South West Africa. Planning to hunt in Ovamboland, and push on into Angola before returning to England, he was still in the German colony when war was declared in Europe. Immediately arrested by the German authorities, he was accused of being a spy, which he probably was, and sentenced to be shot. But with South African forces invading from the south, he was moved to a jail in Windhoek and after eight and a half months in the common gaol on criminal rations, he was liberated by Brigadier General Brits’ South Africans on 8 July 1915. Lembcke’s unfortunate yet fascinating adventures during this period are told in some detail in his sworn statement to the subsequent Court of Enquiry on 21 July 1915 and in his letter written to the War Office in June 1919, in which he admits to his spying activities while in Africa. This letter was then forwarded to MI.2, suggesting that he was most likely working for the Intelligence Services.

While in captivity, Lembcke had been appointed to a permanent commission in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in the rank of Acting Captain but, after his arrival back in England on 17 August 1915, he was quickly attached to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers and joined his new regiment in France on 5 September 1915. Promoted Temporary Major in October 1915, he served with his battalion on the first day of the Battle of the Somme as part of Lieutenant-General Congreve’s 30th Division on the extreme British right. On the 12 October 1916, the battalion also took part in a local attack in the Flers sector, finding the enemy well prepared, they failed to reach their first objective and the battalion’s casualties totalled 9 officers and 261 other ranks, Lembcke being wounded. He was wounded a second time on 14 November.

On 28 December 1916, Lembcke was was appointed to the command of the 18th (Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment (3rd Manchester Pals - Clerks’ and Warehousemen’s Battalion) with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. The battalion took part in fierce fighting in an attack on the German trenches North-West of Neuville-Vitasse on 18 May 1917, with 15 officers (including every company commander in the attack) and 346 other ranks either killed, wounded or missing. Losses on similar scale occurred on 31 July at Sanctuary Wood during the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) when the company attacked through the wood, securing their objectives east of Strirling Castle. Lembcke was hospitalised shortly afterwards and he relinquished command of the battalion on 12 December 1917. He was mentioned in despatches in the London Gazette on 18 December 1917 and awarded the D.S.O. on 1 January 1918, undoubtedly for his leadership of the Battalion at Sanctuary Wood.
After being discharged from medical care, Lembcke was next appointed to take command of the 25th Battalion, Liverpool Regiment, taking part in the 2nd Battle of the Somme in August 1918 and the grand advance in Artois and Flanders during October and November, seeing particularly hard fighting on the Scheldt.

On 14 December 1918, he took up an appointment as General Staff Officer 3rd Grade at the War Office and was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on 1 January 1919. He was again Mentioned In Despatches for his services with the 25th Liverpool, most likely for his ‘determination and endurance on the Scheldt displayed between 18 and 21 October’, for which he had received the appreciation of the Corps Commander. He was promoted to GSO 2 on 23 June 1919 and was made a permanent Lieutenant-Colonel on 5th November 1920, relinquishing his appointment at the War Office the same day.

On 15th November 1920 he was sent to Spain with Sir Esme Howard (later 1st Baron Howard of Penrith), the new British Ambassador based in Madrid, as Military Attaché. While there he was presented with a Wilkinson sword inscribed inscribed ‘A nuestro camarada el Mayor Lembcke D.S.O. A mas contrarios mas brios dijo nuestro padre El Cid’ ('To our comrade Major Lembcke D.S.O. “In the face of more enemies we find greater strength, said our father El Cid”), as well as a presentation signed photograph, by King Alphonso XIII of Spain in recognition of his services.

On his return to England he was posted as Chief Staff Officer to the West Lancashire Division during the rebellion in Ireland.
In 1921 he received a cable from Lima stating: ‘On behalf of the President I request you to say if you are willing to take up service with the Peruvian Government and relinquish the nationality you now hold.’

Accepting the offer, he resigned his commission in the British Army (although he did not relinquish his dual nationality) and was granted a permanent commission in the Peruvian Army with the same rank of Lt. Colonel. Not intending to return to England, he specifically requested not to be put on the British Army Reserve, but his request was refused, as it was a British legal requirement to join the Reserve.

He left Avonmouth on 21 May 1922 accompanied by his wife Irmgard and daughter Katherine, and on arrival in Peru reverted to using the name Carlos Eduardo, taking up the position of Military Attaché to the British Embassy, followed by a number of appointments in the Peruvian Army Staff. In 1929, Lembcke became embroiled in a bitter dispute with his immediate superior, the notorious German General Wilhelm Faupel, at that time Inspector General of the Peruvian Army, and challenged him to a duel which was fought with sabres on 17 October 1930. Said to have been a bloody affair, unusually the duellist’s seconds were obliged to step in long after first blood was drawn. A few months later, Faupel returned to Germany, later becoming a staunch Nazi and in 1937, Germany’s Ambassador to Madrid.

Although now somewhat out of favour, in February 1931 Lembcke put his fluency in English and Spanish to use when appointed to escort the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) during the prince’s visit to Peru. It was reported in the newspapers at the time that: ‘They have a happy way of arranging revolutions in Peru. The rebels heard that the Prince of Wales and Prince George were about to tour Peru at the time the revolution was due to start, so they decided to delay the revolution until after the British party left.’

Following the assassination of Provisional President Cerro in 1933, Carlos was returned to the fold however, being appointed, together with his Regiment, as the new President’s bodyguard during a period of political uncertainty. He undertook a series of campaigns and suppressions, many of which provide interesting tales in their own right, in defence of the regime before retiring from the Peruvian Army in 1938. He died in Lima in 1956.

Sold with detailed copied research together with four photographs of the recipient in uniform at different stages of his military career.

For the recipient’s father’s medals see lot 604

For the recipient’s miniatures see lot 722.