The Brett Collection of Medals to The Buffs

The Brett Collection of Medals to The Buffs

Robert Brett

At the outset I am pleased to report that I am still alive and well. Any rumours to the contrary are grossly exaggerated.  But the time has come to disperse the collection, and turn my attention to active retirement.

I hardly realise what a daunting challenge it would be to introduce in words the collection of medals and decorations to the East Kent Regiment, 3rd Foot, The Buffs, which I have formed, and which is now presented in this catalogue. It is almost like baring one's soul.

Nevertheless, I welcome this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with other collectors having similar interests.

From time to time I have been asked why I collect medals and why to the Buffs.  In responding I have had to reveal that medals are only one of my collecting habits.  I also have an extensive collection of books, both Military and otherwise, and an impressive accumulation of elastic bands!  The urge to collect is, in my view, a matter of natural instinct, and one to be given free rein where pastimes are concerned.  There are many reasons, though, why a particular theme emerges.  My focus on the East Kent Regiment was perhaps inevitable for an expatriate Man of Kent, living in a distant land but remembering well, albeit through casual association, the pride of one of Britain's oldest regiments.

It is almost thirty years since my initial toe-in-the-water phase of medal collecting began. The more serious mission of collecting and researching medals to The Buffs began shortly thereafter and has proceeded happily ever since. I could not have wished for a more absorbing pastime to provide a refuge from the vexations of everyday existence. Needless to say the luxury of spare time has been somewhat curtailed over the years.  But there was time enough to thoroughly enjoy the active practice of collecting, researching, cataloguing and maintaining contact with fellow enthusiasts.  What may appear to others to be a whimsical pursuit is in fact, at least partly, an antidote to the seriousness, tenseness and impersonality of my everyday life. Collecting is capable of absorbing our thoughts, and at the same time allows us to journey far and wide to exotic climes to witness heroic events whilst immune from the discomforts of the campaign.

And now it is time to make the medals in the collection available to others, with the hope that each will find a good home. Already this preface is longer than intended, but it would be remiss of me if I were not to mention some of the actions and the men behind the medals that have captured my everlasting interest. Alas, space permits but a few.

The night action at Bilot on the orth West Frontier, September 1897, where one Victoria Cross and four DCM's were awarded to a section of 12 men of The Buffs is an outstanding example of the spirit of the regiment (DCM to Private Nelthorpe, Lot 414).

The gory battle of Albuhera, May 1811, where the 3rd Foot suffered most severely (MGS to Lieut. Richard Woods, Lot 334) 
The tragic death of Captain Vertue, killed m action at Spion Kop in January 1900 (QSA, Lot 416) 
The audacity of Private Plews when engaging a tank with his revolver, May 1940 in France (MM, Lot 577) 
The exceptional gallantry of Captain Stacey when evacuating casualties in Germany, November 1944 (Bronze Star, Lot 576) 
The outstanding leadership and bravery at Anzio, Italy March 1944, of Major Rolo when leading a raiding party (MC, Lot 574) 
These are but examples, many others come to mind. The medals in the collection that follows speak for themselves in many ways of the illustrious deeds of an honourable and ancient regiment, The East Kent Regiment, 3rd Foot, The Buffs. 

Robert Brett August 1999 

Robert Frank Brett was born on 5 May 1929, in Whitstable, Kent. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and a Chartered Engineer in the United Kingdom, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario, Canada. Bob served in the Royal Air Force, 1950-53, in Technical Training Command on Radar duties. He has had an extensive career in telecommunications and, since 1970, has represented a major research entity in Canada in the activities of international organisations. He retired in 1994, but remains active as a consultant internationally.