A Collection of Medals to Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiments

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Date of Auction: 17th September 2009

Sold for £980

Estimate: £400 - £500

A good Great War M.M. group of four awarded to Private C. Sweeney, Hertfordshire Regiment, who, having been decorated for bravery in the battle of Ancre in November 1916, was killed in action in July 1917

Military Medal, G.V.R. (2537 Pte. C. Sweeney, 1/1 Herts. R.); 1914-15 Star (2537 Pte. C. Sweeney, Herts. R.); British War and Victory Medals (2537 Pte. C. Sweeney, Herts. R.), good very fine and better (4) £400-500

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 19 February 1917.

Claud James William Sweeney won his M.M. for bravery in the Ancre Valley on the Somme on 13 November 1916, when his Battalion captured the Hansa Line at a cost of around 150 casualties. Regimental records state:

‘Private C. Sweeney and Private R. Page, both of No. 3 Company showed great gallantry. They bombed a dug out, and when three German officers and men came up armed from it, they disarmed them. When Corporal Jackson was wounded, Private Page took command of the bombing post at Point 35, and both he and Private Sweeney were conspicuous in assisting in the capture of a party of 30 German machine-gunners.’

The following entry appears in
Ware Men in the First World War:

‘Private (Acting Lance-Corporal) Claud James William Sweeney enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment at the age of 17 at Hertford. He was an athletic lad known for diving into the Lea from Toll Bridge. Claud landed in France on 23 January 1915. In November 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry during the Battle of Ancre. He fell in the Battle of St. Julien on 31 July 1917, a few days after attaining his 20th birthday, and within a couple of miles of where his father laid down his life. Company Sergeant-Major Edward Clarke, a neighbour of Mrs. Sweeney, wrote to her with the sad news of the death of ‘poor old Claud’ as he affectionately called him. He says he was given the chance to stay out of the attack, but he stoutly refused - ‘I was with him a few hours before his death, he was then in the very best of spirits and was with his platoon joining in the singing. It was such a shame to lose a fine chap, and I am sure the few of us who came out of the attack join me in expressing our sympathy with you in your sad loss, which is ours also’. Both Claud Sweeney and Edward Clarke were in No. 3 Company.

Mrs. Sweeney was presented with her son’s Military Medal at Balls Park, Hertford on 12 February 1918 by Major Sir H. J. Delves Broughton, the commander of the N.C.Os school there. The Commandant told her he was pleased to have the honour of presenting her son’s decoration to her although he sincerely regretted that he had lost his life in the defence of his country. Three rousing cheers were given by 450 trainee N.C.Os who paraded before the medal recipient. Like many others killed at St. Julien, Claud has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate.’