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 £11,000

Estimate: £7,000 - £8,000

The rare and impressive inter-war C.B., Great War C.M.G., Sudan D.S.O. group of sixteen awarded to Major-General H. L. Pritchard, Royal Engineers, a veteran of the Ashanti campaign who was one Kitchener’s “Band of Boys”, helping to build the desert railway during the reconquest of the Sudan and winning a D.S.O. for the Atbara and Omdurman - in the latter engagement he conveyed vital messages under fire as “Fighting Mac’s” galloper: afterwards writing an important first hand history of the expedition under the pseudonym ‘An Officer’, he became Chief Engineer of an Army Corps in Salonika, until severely wounded, and Colonel Commandant R.E. 1932-41

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels; The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s breast badge converted for neck wear; Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamels, minor chip to one reverse arm; Ashanti Star 1896, unnamed; Queen’s Sudan 1896-98 (Lieut. H. L. Pritchard, R.E.); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Orange Free State, Transvaal, Belmont, Modder River (Capt: H. L. Pritchard, D.S.O., R.E.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Capt. H. L. Pritchard, D.S.O., R.E.); 1914 Star, with clasp (Major H. L. Pritchard, D.S.O., R.E.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf (Brig. Gen. H. L. Pritchard); Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937; Greek Medal for Military Merit, 2nd Class; Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class, silver, gold and enamel; Khedive’s Sudan 1896-1908, 3 clasps, Hafir, Sudan 1897, Khartoum, unnamed as issued, these last 13 on an old court mounting as worn; Order of the Redeemer, 3rd Class neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels, the last damaged at several points, otherwise very fine or better (16) £7000-8000


D.S.O. London Gazette 15 November 1898: ‘In recognition of services in Egypt and the Soudan, including the battles of Atbara and Khartoum’.

C.M.G. London Gazette 1 January 1917.

C.B. London Gazette 1 January 1923.

M.I.D. London Gazette 1896 (Ashanti); 2 November 1896 (Dongola); 30 September 1898 (Omdurman); 29 July 1902 (South Africa - Railways); 19 October 1914 (France); 17 February 1915 (France); 6 December 1916 (Greece - Salonika); 28 November 1917 (Greece - Salonika).

Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class London Gazette 2 March 1897: ‘In recognition of active and distinguished service before the enemy during the recent expedition to Dongola.’

Order of the Redeemer, 3rd Class London Gazette 9 November 1918.

Harry Lionel Pritchard was born on 16 November 1871, son of Colonel Hurlock Pritchard, and was educated at Charterhouse. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in February 1891, he was advanced to Lieutenant in February 1894 and witnessed active service in the Ashanti Expedition 1895-96, for which he was honourably mentioned.

Transferring to the Egyptian Army in October 1896, he served in the expedition to Dongola, being present at the operations of 19 September 1896 (despatches, Medjidie 4th Class), and in the Nile Expedition 1897, including the battle of Omdurman, for which he was awarded the D.S.O. and a brace of “mentions”. As stated above, he also wrote and important first hand account of the reconquest of the Sudan, not least in respect of the progress of the railway line that saved the campaign, in which project he served on the Railway Staff but, with typical modesty, omits mention of his crucial part in conveying messages in the battle of Omdurman, an omission duly corrected by Henry Keown-Boyd in his excellent account of the Sudan campaign, A Good Dusting:

‘The sequence of orders and counter-orders during this stage of the battle is confused and contradictory, as, no doubt, were the orders themselves. It would seem the Sirdar, riding with the British Division on the left of the line of advance, at first ignored an attempted explanation of the situation on the extreme right offered by MacDonald’s galloper, Lieutenant Pritchard, R.E., who had been sent to ask for help. However, later, when this request was repeated by Hunter, who could see more of what was happening in his sector of the battlefield, Kitchener relented and ordered Wauchope to swing right, come up behind Lewis and fill the gap between Lewis and MacDonald. But MacDonald, by now preparing to cope with the threat from the north, required more direct reinforcement and sent Pritchard to Wauchope asking him to come up on his (MacDonald’s) immediate right. Wauchope, under orders from the Sirdar to fill in on MacDonald’s left, compromised by detaching the Lincolns and sending them on at the double to MacDonald’s right, completing the gap-filling manoeuvre with the remainder of his brigade.

With eighteen guns and eight Maxims, the fire-power at MacDonald’s disposal was formidable and, despite the wild inaccuracy of his Sudanese riflemen, the second attack was pulverised as decisively as had been the first. Had the two attacks been co-ordinated MacDonald might have been in real difficulty but piecemeal they were easily dealt with and the arrival of the Lincolns, renowned for the high standard of their musketry, completed the destruction of Sheikh el Din’s brave but badly led mulazimin. Nevertheless, the officers and senior N.C.Os of MacDonald’s brigade were severely tested by their men’s desire to rush forward and get to grips with their adversaries, which they managed with great difficulty to hold in check, and by the alarming rate at which ammunition was consumed.’

Next specially employed in Cyprus, from December 1898 until June 1899, in which period he was invested with his D.S.O. by the High Commissioner, Pritchard was again actively employed in South Africa from January 1900 until June 1902, when he served on the Staff, including the advance on Kimberley and the actions at Belmont, Enslin, Modder River and Magersfontein, in addition to other operations in Orange Free State and Cape Colony. Again mentioned in despatches, he was advanced to Captain and employed on the Central South African Railways 1902-04, prior to serving as Deputy Assistant Director, Army H.Q., from November 1904 until February 1907, and then as a Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General in India for the remainder of the latter year.

Having been advanced to Major in 1911, Pritchard served out in France and Flanders from August 1914 until January 1915, and as Chief Engineer, in the temporary rank of Brigadier-General, of 16th Army Corps in the Egypt and Salonika theatres of war, where he was severely wounded. Awarded the C.M.G. and the 3rd Class of the Greek Order of the Redeemer, in addition to being mentioned in despatches on four occasions, Pritchard enjoyed a string of senior appointments in the 1920s and 1930s, adding the C.B. to his accolades and latterly serving as G.O.C. Malaya 1929-31 and, finally, as Commandant of the School of Military Engineering.

Placed on the Retired List as a Major-General in 1933, Pritchard served as Colonel Commandant, R.E. until 1941 and made a valuable contribution to the planning of civil defence in his capacity as Air Raids Commandant in the late 1930s. The General died in May 1953.

Sold with a copy of his book Sudan Campaign 1896-1899, by ‘An Officer’ [Lieutenant H. L. Pritchard, R.E.], London, 1899, 261pp, with maps; together with a folder containing some copied research.