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

Date of Auction: 17th August 2021

Sold for £950

Estimate: £300 - £400

Three: Private S. Willoughby, 2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was killed in action near Clary on 27 August 1914

1914 Star (8966 Pte. S. Willoughby. R. Dub: Fus.); British War and Victory Medals (8966 Pte. S. Willoughby. R. D. Fus.); Memorial Plaque (Samuel Willoughby) in card envelope, good very fine (4) £300-£400


Samuel Willoughby was born at Hackettstown, Co. Carlow, Ireland, and first attested for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in February 1902. He was discharged after 21 days ‘owing to mis-statement as to age on enlistment’ but successfully re-attested at Carlow in 1904.

Following the outbreak of the Great War, Willoughby arrived at Boulogne on 23 August 1914 with “A” Company in the 2nd Battalion and entrained for Le Cateau. On 25 August, the battalion fired its first shots at enemy cavalry, reportedly bringing two down. On the morning of 26 August, the battalion took up a position on the right of the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment around the Cattenières-Caullery bridal path, as part of the 10th Brigade in Snows’ 4th Division. As the Battle of Le Cateau wore on, “A” and “D” Companies moved to occupy a defensive line east of Haucourt. Enemy shelling on Haucourt began at 2pm, followed later by an infantry attack and at this point troops around Haucourt began to withdraw in some confusion, and in small, mixed detachments. ‘A’ and ‘D’ companies (about 400 men) commanded by Major H Shewan, of the Dublin Fusiliers, were left behind and retired about midnight on the 26-27th August. On approaching Clary, they came under fire. Captain Trigona believed the fire may be from British troops and signalled that they were Royal Dublin Fusiliers, to which the response was “Dublin Fusiliers, right, come on”. However, German uniforms were spotted and the detachment began to fall back on Ligny. Whilst the detachment was fully engaged with the enemy and being surrounded, small ‘rushes’ were made to get away, but each of these suffered heavier casualties than the last. At the end of the day, the 400 strong detachment had been reduced to two Officers and 30 men who’d escaped. One officer was killed, 6 officers taken prisoner, and 44 men killed or mortally wounded, the remainder became prisoners of war.

Private Willoughby was reported missing presumed dead on 27 August 1914. He was the son of Samuel and Anne Willoughby, of Church Rd., Hacketstown and the husband of Annie Willoughby, of Mill St., Hacketstown, Co. Carlow. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France.