The Allan and Janet Woodliffe Collection of Medals relating to the Reconquest and Pacification of The Sudan 1896-1956

Date of Auction: 18th May 2011

Sold for £8,400

Estimate: £7,000 - £8,000

The rare and impressive C.M.G., C.V.O., C.B.E., Sudan D.S.O. group of twenty awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel James Kiero Watson, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, who was awarded the D.S.O. for services during the reconquest of Dongola: a close friend of Lord Kitchener, to whom he was A.D.C. in the Sudan and in South Africa, he commanded an advance at Gallipoli in 1915 before retiring as Military Attaché in Cairo

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s breast badge converted for neck wear, silver-gilt and enamels; The Royal Victorian Order, C.V.O., Commander’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels, the reverse officially numbered ‘C530’; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Military) Commander’s 1st type neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamels, chips to both green enamel wreaths; India General Service 1854-95, 1 clasp, Burma 1889-92 (Lieut. J. K. Watson, 4th Bn. K. Rl. Rif. Corps); Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (Cap: J. K. Watson, D.S.O., E.A.); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Johannesburg (Major J. K. Watson, K.R.R.C.); 1914 Star, with clasp (Major J. K. Watson, C.V.O., C.M.G., D.S.O. K.R. Rif. C.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf (Lt. Col. J. K. Watson); Coronation 1911; Order of the Medjidie, 5th Class breast badge, silver, gold and enamel; Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, gilt and enamels; Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 7 clasps, Firket, Hafir, Sudan 1897, The Atbara, Khartoum, Sudan 1899, Gedid (Capt: J. K. Watson, K.R. Rifles) these last eleven on an old Hunt & Roskell court mounting, some ribbons distressed through age; Order of the Nile, 2nd Class set of insignia by Lattes, comprising neck badge and breast star, silver, silver-gilt and enamels; Order of Osmanieh, 3rd Class neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels, enamel damaged and lacking one ballpoint; Order of Leopold II, 3rd Class neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Order of the Crown of Roumania, 3rd Class neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Order of the Sword of Sweden, Knight’s breast badge, with swords, gold and enamels, obverse centre crudely repaired, unless otherwise described, generally good very fine (20) £7000-8000


D.S.O. London Gazette 17 November 1896: Reconquest of Dongola.

C.M.G. London Gazette 27 September 1901: War in South Africa.

M.V.O. London Gazette 16 June 1905: On the occasion of the marriage of H.R.H. Princess Margaret of Connaught and H.R.H. Prince Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and Norway.

C.V.O. London Gazette 25 June 1912: Aide de Camp to the Khedive of Egypt.

C.B.E. London Gazette 1919: British Military attaché in Egypt.

M.I.D. London Gazette 3 November 1896 (Dongola); 24 May 1898 (The Atbara); 30 September 1898 (Omdurman); 30 January 1900 (Defeat of the Khalifa); 16 April 1901 (South Africa); 22 June 1915 (D.A.A.G.); 28 January 1916 (Gallipoli); 12 January 1918 (Military attaché at Cairo).

Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class London Gazette 7 October 1898.

Order of Osmanieh, 4th Class London Gazette 3 August 1900 (Pursuit and defeat of the Khalifa).

Order of Osmanieh, 3rd Class London Gazette 2 August 1907.

Order of the Nile, 2nd Class London Gazette 21 September 1923.

James Kiero Watson was born on 19 June 1865, son of Major General James Watson, late 60th Rifles, and Mrs James Watson. He was educated at Clifton College and R.M.C. Sandhurst, and was gazetted to the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 25 April 1885. In 1891 and 1892 he served in Burma, taking part in the operations in the Chin Hills. He was attached to the Egyptian Army in 1894 and posted to the Xth Sudanese Regiment. He was the first Englishmen to meet Slatin Pasha after his escape from captivity at Omdurman. In 1895 he became A.D.C. to Lord Kitchener, a post he held until 1905, and held a close relationship with the Earl until his death in 1916. He served in the Expedition to Dongola in 1896 as A.D.C. to the Sirdar, being present at the operations at Firket on 7 June and Hafir on 19 September. He was mentioned in despatches, received the Egyptian medal with clasp, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ‘James Kiero Watson, Captain, King's Royal Rifle Corps. In recognition of services during the recent operations in the Sudan’.

He served in the Nile Expedition, 1897, was awarded the 4th Class Medjidie, and received a clasp to the Egyptian Medal. He was again A.D.C. to the G.O.C. in the Nile Expedition of 1898, and was present at the battles of the Atbara and Khartoum, and was given the Brevet of Major 16 November 1898. After Omdurman he was appointed to the coveted post of Military Secretary in Cairo, trying to restore order to an office disrupted by three years of warfare. However, he was soon back in action, serving with the White Nile Expedition of 1899, taking part in the operations which resulted in the final defeat of the Khalifa at Gedid (Um Debaykarat), as D.A.A.G., Flying Column. He received the 4th Class Osmanieh and two clasps to the Egyptian Medal.

Watson served in the South African War as A.D.C. to Lord Kitchener, 1899-1901, and was present at the Relief of Kimberley. Also in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, being present at Cronje’s surrender at Paardeburg (17 to 26 February). Operations in the Transvaal in May and June 1900, including actions near Johannesburg and Pretoria. Operations in the Transvaal, east and west of Pretoria, July to 29 November 1900. Operations in Orange River Colony, May to 29 November 1900. Operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, 1899-1900. Operations in the Transvaal and Cape Colony, December 1900 to April 1901. Operations in Orange River Colony 30 November to December 1900. He was present at the capture of Pretoria on 4 June 1900 and was created a C.M.G.

In 1901 Captain Watson returned to Egypt as A.A.G. to become Military Secretary once again, but was appointed A.D.C. at Headquarters by General Wingate, a post he held until 1905. He was promoted Major in October 1902. He accepted the Khedive’s invitation to become his A.D.C., and resigned his commission on 3 May 1905 to become an officer in the Egyptian Civil Service. It was a difficult position to hold in the Khedival Court but Watson soon earned the complete trust of the Khedive. He was created a C.V.O. in 1912 for his services. The Khedive chose to remain in Europe during the Great War, thus releasing Watson to be recalled and join the British forces in France as D.A.A.G., 1914-15, as Railway Transport Officer. He was next Commandant, Advanced Base, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, in 1915, until he fell sick and was hospitalised.

Watson returned to Cairo where he became British Military attache from 1916 to 1920. He was awarded the Legion of Honour (France), Order of the Sword (Sweden), Order of Leopold (Belgium), Order of the Crown (Romania) and created a CBE in 1919. Having time on his hands in 1920, he returned to the Sudan, before finally retiring in 1922. He was appointed Equerry to the Duke of Connaught in 1939. Lieutenant-Colonel Watson died on I3 January 1942.

Sold with a good amount of additional research including a copy of Military Operations in Burma, 1890-1892: Letters from Lieutenant J. K. Watson, K.R.R.C., 72pp, published by the Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University, 1967. All of Watson’s diaries, correspondence and papers covering the period 1888-1933 are held in the National Army Museum, London (ref. 8412/4-220).