Meritorious Service Medal Groups from the Collection of Ian McInnes

Date of Auction: 21st September 2007

Sold for £4,500

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500

The remarkable Delhi Durbar 1911 R.V.M. group of 15 awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel P. H. Watson, Indian Army, late Bedfordshire Regiment, whose career of 40 or so years with the Colours encompassed active service in India, China, Tibet, Iraq and N.W. Persia, in addition to the Great War, when he was awarded an immediate M.S.M. for services in Mesopotamia

India General Service 1895-1902
, 2 clasps, Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Tirah 1897-98 (6039 Pte., 1st Bedford Regt.); China 1900, no clasp (6039 Corpl., S. & T. Corps), initials ‘H. P.’; Tibet 1903-04, 1 clasp, Gyantse (Sergt., 7th Mule Corps); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1908 (Sub. Condr., S. & T. Corps); 1914 Star (S.-Condr., S. & T.C.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Capt., S. & T.C.); General Service 1918-62, 2 clasps, Iraq, N.W. Persia, M.I.D. oak leaf (Capt.); Defence Medal 1939-45; Royal Victorian Medal, G.V.R., silver, coinage bust, privately inscribed, ‘S./Cdr. P. H. Watson, S. & T. Corps’; Delhi Durbar 1911, privately inscribed, ‘S./Cdr. P. H. Watson’; Jubilee 1935, privately inscribed, ‘Lt. Col. P. H. Watson’; Coronation 1937, privately inscribed, ‘Lt. Col. P. H. Watson’; Army L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 1st issue (Condr., S. & T. Corps); Army Meritorious Service Medal, G.V.R., 1st issue (Condr., S. & T. Corps), the first with officially corrected unit and the second with corrected initial, occasional edge bruising, generally very fine or better (14) £2000-2500

Footnote

Percy Hamilton Watson was in Hampstead, London in 1875, but later joined his father out in India, at Simla, where in 1895 he enlisted in the Punjab Volunteer Rifles. Then in June 1897 he joined the ranks of the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, which unit had been out in India for several years, but was attached to the Supply & Transport Corps, Indian Army, for service with the Tirah Expeditionary Force in the Punjab operations of 1897-98 (WO/100/84 refers).

Back with the Bedfordshires, he was advanced to Lance-Corporal in November 1898 and to Corporal in June 1900, but was sufficiently unhappy about an earlier reprimand for ‘neglect of duty, twice being absent from his office and for making an inappropriate remark to Sergeant Markham’ that he elected to transfer to the Punjab Unattached List for employment with the Supply & Transport Corps. He was immediately advanced to Sergeant and embarked for China in September 1900, where he appears to have served in a shipping capacity, work that won him a favourable endorsement on his service record.

Back in India, he was ‘employed at Delhi in connection with the Durbar arrangements from September 1902 until February 1903’ (his service papers refer), but he does not appear on the relevant medal roll. Advanced to the acting rank of Sub. Conductor in the 7th Mule Corps, Northern Command, shortly afterwards, he was employed in the Tibet Expedition 1903-04, when he was present at the capture of Gyantse. And then in 1908, having been appointed substantive Sub. Conductor, he served in the 7th Mule Corps in the North West Frontier operations, firstly in the Bazaar Valley and later in Mohmand country.

In February 1910, Watson was appointed a Sub. Division Commander in the 4th Mule Corps (Cavalry Brigade) at Lahore, while in the following year he was on duty for the Delhi Durbar, gaining the Royal Victorian Medal on the same occasion (official listing in respect of H.M. visit to India and the Durbar, dated 2 June 1912, refers).

In mid-August 1914, he was embarked for France with the 3rd Mule Cadre (Cavalry Brigade), but in April 1915 was re-embarked for Egypt in the rank of Conductor. Further active service ensued in Mesopotamia from February 1916 to April 1918, initially with the 9th Mule Corps of the 3rd Lahore Division, a period that also witnessed his appointment to a commission as a Commissary & Hon. Lieutenant in January 1916, and the award of his L.S. & G.C. Medal (IAO 728 of 1917 refers). So, too, the award of his immediate M.S.M. (London Gazette 17 October 1917), and a “mention” from General Sir F. S. Maude (London Gazette 12 March 1918).

Yet further active service was to follow, however, firstly in the Iraq operations, and secondly in the N.W. Persia operations of August to December 1920, when the final withdrawal of our troops was accomplished by the likes of Watson, with little motor transport and in freezing conditions. Indeed he did not depart this theatre of war until March 1923, in which year he was again mentioned in despatches.

Advanced to Deputy Commissary & Captain back in India in February 1926, his service record continued to attract favourable comment, ‘an extremely capable officer’ and ‘universally popular’ being typical of his assessments at this time. Unsurprisingly, therefore, he was promoted to Commissary & Major in July 1928 - with seniority back dated to January 1922 - and in January 1930, on the eve of his retirement, to Lieutenant-Colonel. But Watson’s career was quickly rekindled, for in the following year he was appointed Inspector of Messing in the Quarter-Master General’s Department, H.Q. India, in which capacity he was also appointed a half-Colonel in the Indian Army Service Corps - thus his verified Jubilee 1935 and Coronation 1937 Medals. He retired for a final time in 1938, when his extensive service record was sent to Army H.Q. Simla, for filing - but which today resides in the India Records Office (nearly 200 pp. in L/Mil/14/30463).