Meritorious Service Medal Groups from the Collection of Ian McInnes

Date of Auction: 20th September 2002

Sold for £800

Estimate: £600 - £800

Eight: Warrant Officer Class 1 H. E. Murrell, Border Regiment

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal (3895 Sgt., 1st Border Regt.); King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Cr. Serjt., Border Regt.); 1914-15 Star (5642 S. Mjr., Bord. R.); British War and Victory Medals (5642 W.O. Cl. 1, Bord. R.); Army L.S. & G.C., G.V.R. (3895 C. Sjt., Border Regt.); Army Meritorious Service Medal, G.V.R. (3895 T.R.S. Mjr., L’pool R.); Army Meritorious Service Medal, G.VI.R., 3rd issue (3895 W.O. Cl. 1, Border) the first with broken suspension, contact wear, edge bruising and polished, thus fine, but the last good very fine, an excessively rare ‘double M.S.M.’ (8) £600-800


Herbert Ernest Murrell was born at Norwich, Norfolk in April 1874 and enlisted in the Border Regiment at Great Yarmouth in February 1893. Posted to the 1st Battalion at Carlisle, he was advanced to Lance-Corporal in the same year and, whilst serving on Malta in 1897, to Lance-Sergeant. Briefly posted back home in the summer of 1899, he was advanced to Sergeant and sailed for South Africa, where he served with the 1st Battalion in the relief of Ladysmith operations, and elsewhere in Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal.

Returning to the U.K., via Malta, at the end of 1902, Murrell gained advancement to Colour-Sergeant, in which rank he served at the Small Arms Factory at Birmingham, the Musketry School at Hythe, the Military Engineering Establishment at Chatham and on the Permanent Staff of the 3rd Battalion until discharged after 21 years with the Colours in 1914. He had, meanwhile, been awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal, in 1911.

Immediately recalled to his old Regiment in September 1914, Murrell was appointed a Colour-Sergeant in ‘C’ Company of the newly formed 8th Battalion. The unit, one of the first Pals Battalions, with its strength drawn from Westmorland and Cumberland, commenced training at Bournemouth in July 1915, Murrell being appointed R.S.M. (Warrant Officer Class 1). Just two months later, it arrived in France, taking up position in trenches at Le Bizet. Later, the Battalion moved to Ploegstreet, casualties mounting immediately, and in the spring of 1916 it joined 75th Infantry Brigade in readiness for the Somme offensive.

At 3 a.m. on 3 July 1916, the 8th Borders went into action on the Thiepval Spur, from the direction of Authuille, forming the centre of the attacking line. Reaching and taking the German line, they were unable to hold the position for longer than an hour and a half, owing to pressure being brought to bear on their flanks. The following evening they were withdrawn to Aveluy Wood, but on the 12th they returned to the fray, under cover of darkness, and drove the enemy from their front line trenches. The cost, however, was high, the Battalion sustaining casualties of six Officers killed and 15 wounded, and 100 other ranks killed and another 371 wounded.

From the end of July to the middle of August, the 8th Borders served on the sector of the line that ran northwards of the River Ancre, experiencing for the first time the horrors of a poison gas attack. Then following a stint on the line close to the Leipzig salient, they were thrown into an attack against the Hindenburg Trench feature on 26 August. Finally, in early September, the Battalion was moved back to a rest camp at Abbeville. And a week or two later, Murrell was posted back to the U.K. to take up appointment as R.S.M. of the 75th Training Battalion.

Engaged on similar duties in the U.K. for the remainder of the War, including a stint with the Liverpools, Murrell was awarded an immediate M.S.M. for ‘valuable services’ (London Gazette 3 June 1919). Then in Army Order 98 of 1953, he received his non-immediate M.S.M. without annuity, thereby making him a member of an exclusive club - less than ten such double awards are known. Murrell was latterly Pier Master at Great Yarmouth; see Ian McInnes’ The Annuity M.S.M. 1847-1953, First Supplement for further career details and photograph; sold with two copy group photographs of the Officers and NCOs of 8th Borders, circa 1915.