Meritorious Service Medal Groups from the Collection of Ian McInnes

Date of Auction: 25th March 2014

Sold for £720

Estimate: £550 - £650

Six: Warrant Officer Class 2 W. Shearer, Royal Lancaster Regiment, wounded in action on ‘Wynne’s Hill’, during the relief of Ladysmith, 22 February 1900

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 2 clasps, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith (1543 Co. Sejt., R. Lanc. Regt.); 1914-15 Star (4347 Q.M. Sjt., R. Lanc. R.); British War and Victory Medals (4347 W.O. Cl. 2, R. Lanc. R.); Army L.S. & G.C., E.VII.R. (1543 C. Sjt., Rl. Lanc. Regt.); Army Meritorious Service Medal, G.VI.R., 1st issue, ‘Ind. Imp.’ (C. Sjt., R. Lanc. R.) contact marks on first and fifth, nearly very fine and better (6) £550-650


William Shearer was born in Bloomsbury, London. A Clerk by occupation, he attested for the Royal Lancaster Regiment at London on 13 April 1886, aged 18 years, 4 months. With the regiment he served abroad in India, December 1888-February 1896. After a posting in England, he was sent to South Africa in December 1899. The 2nd Battalion Royal Lancaster Regiment formed part of the 11th (Lancashire) Brigade. The brigade was involved in General Buller’s operations to relieve Ladysmith.

‘In appalling weather the 5th Division left for the front at 0445 hours on 9 January, 1900, reaching Frere 11 miles on after 14 hours during which a swollen river was crossed. At dawn, on 11 January, the Division went on to Springfield arriving next day in bright sunshine. On Tuesday 16 January, the Battn. was under orders to march in the afternoon, each man was to carry 150 rounds, a jersey and a waterproof sheet. The intention was to cross the Tugela at Trichardt's Drift with the rest of the 11th Brigade, 2nd Division, the Mounted Brigade and Corps Cavalry all under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Charles Warren. The river bank was reached about midnight and the troops bivouacked on Mount Alice. Artillery opened up against the Boer side at 0700 on 17 January and a pontoon bridge was begun at 0800. At about this time the Battn. and 1st West Yorks were ferried across. By evening the whole of 11 Brigade was across and ensconced in the foothills opposite Spion Kop. Over the next 48 hours the position was consolidated, intermittent artillery fire was carried out and some probing, mainly by Dundonald's Brigade, occurred. At 0500 hours on 19 January, the whole force moved to the left, 11 Brigade providing flank protection to the transport. However, the Boers moved in a blocking force and Warren's command bivouacked at Venter's Spruit. It was decided to dislodge the Boers from Tabanyama Ridge. On 20 January, the Battn. set out early as escort to the guns, which were established on Three Tree Hill by about 0600. At about 0730, two companies of the Battn., under Major Matthews, advancing to occupy a small kopje NE of Three Tree Hill drew fire. Throughout the day the Battn. suffered 2 killed and 14 wounded. On 23 January, at about 1900 hours, six companies of the Battn., with two companies, 1st South Lanes. paraded in quarter column along with the 2nd Lanes. Fusiliers for the attack on Spion Kop; two companies of the Battn., under Captains Barton and Palmer, were on Three Tree Hill. The Brigade moved off at 2000 hours reaching the foot of the Kop by about 2230. At 0100, the climb began. A broad slope, near what was thought to be the top, was reached by Captain Carleton's Company followed by the rest who formed the front by Companies. The Companies of Carleton, Kirk and Sandback were advancing in column when several shots were fired. Shortly after the whole force came up and 'dug in', although that was difficult due to the shallowness of the soil above the bedrock. At about 0800 the mist rose and it was discovered that the force was short of the crest and the Boer artillery opened up followed by rifle fire from several positions. This continued until the force withdrew late that night after suffering severe casualties. The Battn. had four officers killed, four officers wounded, 56 ORs killed, 90 wounded with one officer and 31 ORs missing. On 5 February, 11 Brigade took part in the taking of Vaal Krantz, a small flat-topped hill towards the left of the position. On 14 February, the Brigade occupied Hussar Hill. After a general advance on 21 February, the Battn. was posted along the Colenso-Ladysmith railway line and the Brigade was joined by a composite battalion of Rifles in place of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The next day the Brigade was on stand-by for an attack against Onderbrook Hill. As the advance formed up the Boers opened sniping fire, wounding Brigadier Wynne, whose place was taken by Colonel Crofton, command of the Battn. going to Major Yeatherd. Passing through a railway cutting in single file, the Battn. shook out into lines, 200 yards apart, each of two companies. Boer rifle fire increased, becoming an enormous fusillade at the top of "Wynne's Hill". lt was here that Shearer was wounded. On reaching the summit the Battn. took cover behind some cattle kraals except for the right-hand companies, which managed to advance along a bush-covered ridge on to the plateau. The Battn. held the crest under fire until relieved by the East Surreys next morning, Casualties were two officers killed, two officers mortally wounded, 30 ORs killed, 104 ORs wounded and one POW.’ (Ref. The Annuity Meritorious Service Medal 1847-1953 First Supplement, by Ian McInnes)

Shearer arrived back in England in July 1900 and having made a recovery from his wounds, he served overseas in Malta, November 1901-September 1903 and in India, September-December 1903. He took his discharge from the Army, having given three months notice, on 31 October 1909.

Shearer attested for service in the Army Reserve (Special Reserve) at London on 10 September 1914, then aged 46 years. As a Warrant Officer in the 6th Battalion Royal Lancaster Regiment he was posted to the Mediterranean, serving in Gallipoli, 13 June-26 September 1915. After a period in England, he returned to the Mediterranean, March-October 1916, before returning home once more. He was discharged in December 1918 due to sickness and awarded a Silver War Badge (not with lot). Shearer was awarded the M.S.M. by Army Order No. 49 of 1939.

With copied service papers and a quantity of copied research.