A Collection of Medals to the 10th and 11th Hussars

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Date of Auction: 5th April 2006

Sold for £650

Estimate: £500 - £600

Eleven: Sergeant T. Secrett, 11th Hussars, late 8th Hussars, batman to Field Marshal Haig

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast (3469 Pte., 8 Hrs.), unit officially re-engraved; King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps (3469 Pte., 8 Hussars); 1914 Star, naming erased; British War Medal 1914-20 (5186 Pte., 11-Hrs.); Victory Medal 1914-19, naming erased; Delhi Durbar 1911, silver; Army L.S.& G.C., E.VII.R., naming erased; Army Meritorious Service Medal, G.V.R., 1st issue (H-5186 Pte.-L. Cpl., 11/Hrs.); France, Medaille Militaire, enamelled; France, Medal of Honour, with swords, gilt base metal; Belgium, King Albert Medal 1914-18, bronze, good very fine and better (11) £500-600

Footnote

M.S.M. London Gazette 3 June 1919. ‘... in recognition of valuable services rendered with the Armies in France & Flanders’.

Medaille Militaire A.O. 466 1914 ‘For gallantry in operations 10-31 August 1914’.

Medal of Honour, ‘Gold’ class, with swords, London Gazette 21 August 1919.

Thomas Secrett was born in Leiston, Suffolk in 1875, the son of a farm labourer. On 14 February 1892 he enlisted into the 8th Hussars and went to South Africa with them in March 1890. Taking part in several actions, he was for some time a despatch rider for Sir John French. He became personal servant to Colonel Douglas Haig whilst in South Africa, and was to remain with him for 25 years. After the Boer War he was transferred to Haig’s old regiment, the 7th Hussars, but on posting to India in 1909, he was transferred to the 10th Hussars. On returning to England in 1912, he was given his final transfer to the 11th Hussars, with whom he stayed until leaving the Army. Secrett served as Haig’s batman throughout the Great War, his m.i.c. entry showing he entered the France/Flanders theatre on 15 August 1914. For his invaluable service in looking after the Field Marshal in the wartime years, Secrett was awarded the British M.S.M., the French Medaille Militaire and Medal of Honour and the Belgian King Albert Medal. When the Field Marshal relinquished his final command in January 1920, Secrett also left the Army, having completed 28 years military service. He continued to serve Haig as his Valet at Kingston, Surrey. He became engaged to Lady Haig’s maid, and early in 1925 he broached the subject of marriage. The idea was unthinkable to the Earl, who said he could not do without him. With no solution to the impasse, Secrett reluctantly left Haig’s employ and was married in Oct 1925. Earl Haig died on 29 January 1928. In the funeral procession to Westminster Abbey, Secrett preceded the Earl’s charger which was led by troopers of the 17th/21st Lancers and 7th Hussars. The upset caused by Secrett’s departure was later revealed in the Earl’s Last Will (dated 1920), when it was discovered that an annuity to Secrett of £52 was revoked by codicil a year after his departure. A year after Haig’s death, Secrett published a book Twenty-Five Years with Earl Haig, by ‘Sergeant T. Secrett, M.M.’ (the ‘M.M.’ presumably referring to the Medaille Militaire). His service with the Haigs continued and at the time of the Countess Haig’s death in 1939 he was employed as butler to her daughter, Lady Victoria Haig. With the onset of the Second World War, he joined the N.A.A.F.I. on war work. He died on 26 March 1942, aged 62 years, when he suffered a fall when working at a N.A.A.F.I. depot. He and his wife, who died in 1965, were buried in Reigate Cemetery.

Sold with five books: Twenty-Five Years with Earl Haig, by Sergeant T. Secrett, M.M., London, 1929; Field-Marshal Earl Haig, by Brigadier-General J. Charteris, 1929; Haig, by Duff Cooper, London, 2 vols.; Douglas Haig as I Knew Him, by G. S. Duncan, London, 1966. Together with a large quantity of copied research, including newspaper extracts and certificates, relating to both Haig and Secrett.