Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 August 2021)

Date of Auction: 17th August 2021

Sold for £180

Estimate: £200 - £240

Three: Lance Corporal J. F. Sullivan, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment), who was killed in action at La Boutillerie during the Battle of Armentières on 30 October 1914

1914 Star, with copy clasp (L-14650 L. Cpl. J. F. Sullivan. 1/Middx: R.); British War and Victory Medals (L.14650 Pte. J. F. Sullivan. Midd’x R.) nearly extremely fine (3) £200-£240


John Frederick Sullivan was born in 1896 at Hounslow, Middlesex and attested for the Middlesex Regiment in London in September 1913. Following the outbreak of the Great War, he served with the 1st Battalion on the Western Front from 11 August 1914, his battalion seeing action in 1914 at the battles of Mons (and subsequent Retreat), The Marne, The Aisne, la Bassèe, Messines and Armentières.

Sullivan was killed in action on 30 October 1914 during the Battle of Armentières. In the days leading up to his death, the 1st Middlesex had been holding trenches in front of La Boutilleries (23 to 29 October), suffering casualties under heavy shell-fire and sniping. The enemy broke through between C and D Companies on 30 October and in response B Company made a successful counter attack and cleared the enemy from the lost trenches:
‘This attack, in which every man was used - servants, pioneers, cooks, etc., who were carrying ammunition or fighting
with “B” Company - was entirely successful. Every German who had penetrated the line was killed - 37 being accounted for in this way - or captured. And on the following morning over 200 dead Germans were counted lying out in No Man’s Land in front of the trenches. But “ B ” Company practically ceased to exist.
In this very gallant little fight, the 1st Middlesex lost 16 other ranks killed and 25 wounded, including Lieut.-Colonel Rowley, Capt. Gibbons and 2nd Lieut. Shaw. “Where all ranks behaved well,” said Colonel Rowley, “it was hard to single out any for reward, but at any rate all had the satisfaction of worthily upholding the name of Die-Hards.
The Battle of Armentières closed on 2nd November, with the 1st Middlesex still holding the line at La Boutillerie.’ (
The Die-Hards in the Great War. Vol I. 1914-16 by Everard Wyrall refers).

Lance Corporal Sullivan was the son of John Ernest and Augusta Sullivan, of 147, St. Albans Avenue, Bedford Park, London and is buried in Rue-David Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France.