Medals from the Collection of R.W. Gould, MBE

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Date of Auction: 20th September 2002

Sold for £520

Estimate: £300 - £400

A scarce O.B.E. Medal group of three awarded to Sergeant George Tapp, Metropolitan Police, who had previously served in the Matabeleland Relief Force and taken part in the historic Jameson Raid

Medal of the Order of the British Empire (Civil), unnamed as issued; British South Africa Company Medal 1890-97, for Rhodesia 1896 (Sergt., Matabeleland R.F.) a later replacement medal, bruising over rank; Special Constabulary Medal, G.V.R., clasp, The Great War 1914-18 (Sergt. George R. Tapp) unless otherwise described, good very fine (3) £300-400

Footnote

O.B.E. Medal London Gazette 7 September 1920: ‘The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) upon the undermentioned members of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary for service in that Force during the War which has been distinguished by conspicuous courage or by exceptional zeal and devotion to duty.’ One of 46 awards to the Metropolitan Special Constabulary.

George Raikes Tapp was born in London in about 1873. In 1895 he was serving as a Sergeant in the Mashonaland Mounted Police, and rode with “C” Troop in the column that left Pitsani in the Bechuanaland Protectorate on 29th December of that year, and entered the Boer Transvaal Republic. The column, comprising 372 officers and men mainly drawn from the M.M.P., joined up with 122 members of the Bechuanaland Border Police on the following day. The force was commanded by Doctor Leander Starr Jameson and future history books would refer to the incident as the Jameson Raid. The invading force met with increasing Boer resistance until, after a running fight over 10 miles, they became effectively trapped by the Boers near Klipkopje and were forced to surrender on the 2nd January, having lost 25 killed, 37 wounded and a further 35 missing. Jameson and his senior officers were all sent for trial to London aboard the H.M.T. Victoria, whilst the remaining 425 raiders were embarked aboard the S.S. Harlech Castle. When the Harlech Csstle called at Medeira it was boarded by Detective Inspector Frank Froest, of Scotland Yard (see Lot 42), who formally arrested the 26 officers and 399 rank and file in what became the largest mass arrest in the history of British law enforcement. Jameson and his senior officers were subsequently tried in London but the remaining ‘raiders’ never faced trial.

When the Matabeles rose in revolt in March 1896, followed by the Mashonas three months later, Tapp returned to Africa with the Matabeleland Relief Force and served in Rhodesia throughout the campaign of 1896 as a Trooper in “E” Squadron. Little else is known of George Tapp’s career until after the Great War when his name appears in the London Gazette as the recipient of the O.B.E. Medal in 1920. He was then serving in “R” Division, which included Blackheath where Tapp lived and did duty. The Division contained a number of legitimate targets such as the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, the Artillery Barracks and the Royal Military Academy, and accordingly was subjected to a number of air raids by Zeppelins and Gotha bombers. Hence it is possible that Tapp’s award arose out of some act of gallantry during this time but this cannot be proved. The medals were presented to these 46 deserving Special Constables by the Prince of Wales at Olympia on Tuesday 1st February 1921 in front of a parade of 1200 Specials. Sold with further research, including correspondence with the National Archives of Rhodesia from the early 1970’s.