A Collection of Medals to Members of the Nobility and The Royal Household

Date of Auction: 8th December 2016


Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

The C.B., Kenya ‘Mau Mau’ C.B.E., Second War North West Europe 1944 D.S.O. and 1945 Second Award Bar group of thirteen awarded to Major-General the Lord Thurlow, Seaforth Highlanders, who served during the Second War in Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Eritrea, and the Western Desert, before landing with the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders on D-Day, and serving as their Commanding Officer in France. Awarded the D.S.O. for securing a bridgehead across the River Vie in September 1944, he added a Bar to it for breaching the Siegfried Line in February 1945, and subsequently commanded the 39th Infantry Brigade against the Mau Mau in Kenya.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt, with neck riband; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E. (Military) Commander’s neck badge, silver-gilt, with neck riband; Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., silver-gilt and enamel, reverse of suspension bar officially dated ‘1944’, with Second Award Bar, this officially dated ‘1945’, and integral top riband bar; The Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Commander’s neck badge, silver and enamel, with neck riband; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Palestine (Capt. the Hon. H. C. Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce. Seaforth.), partially officially corrected; 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, clasp, 8th Army; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf; Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, Kenya, with M.I.D. oak leaf (Brig. the Lord Thurlow. D.S.O. O.B.E. Staff); Coronation 1937; Coronation 1953, mounted court-style as worn, generally good very fine (13) £8000-10000


C.B. London Gazette 10 June 1961.

C.B.E. London Gazette 31 January 1956:
‘In recognition of distinguished service in Kenya during the period 21 April to 20 October 1954.’

D.S.O. London Gazette 21 December 1944.
The recommendation, dated 8 September 1944, states: ‘Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce has been acting as Commanding Officer of 153 Infantry Brigade during the advance to Insieux. His Brigade were ordered to force the crossing of the River Vie north of St. Julien de Faucon against strong opposition and capture the high ground east of the river. During a confused night of very heavy fighting he succeeded in pushing two Battalions and a Squadron across the River. This was only accomplished as a result of his untiring energy in directing and controlling traffic across improvised crossings. During this time he was continuously under heavy mortar fire. The situation at 02:00 hours was distinctly critical with one Battalion across and little prospect of getting any transport over the river. it was due to his determination and drive and his complete disregard for his personal safety that an adequate bridgehead was formed. This made it possible for the whole Division to be established next day on the high ground dominating Lisieux.’

D.S.O. Second Award Bar London Gazette 10 May 1945.
The recommendation, dated 5 March 1945, states: ‘Brigadier H. C. Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce commanded a Brigade which successfully breached the Siegfried defences east of Kranenburg on the night of 8-9 February 1945, securing the strong defences at Nutterden and subsequently exploiting their success by securing the vital high ground at Materborn, thus opening the way to Cleve. The task of assembling the armoured assault force for breaching the Siegfried Line was a very precarious one in the dark and in the appalling conditions of going prevailing at the time. Only by careful planning and personal supervision was this possible. At all stages Brigadier Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce had a firm grip on the situation and by his personal example and untiring efforts succeeded in launching a successful assault.
At short notice on 9 February, on being ordered to push on to the high ground at Materborn, he quickly planned a rapid follow-through and so secured this vital high ground and also the wooded feature north-west of Cleve. On 18 February he was given the task of assaulting the strongly defended town of Goch, which task he most ably planned and executed, again despite the difficulty of the going and the poor visibility. On the morning of 19 February whilst the situation in Goch was far from secure he was early on the scene encouraging his troops and making the most suitable dispositions.
On 23 February his Brigade was given the task of securing the high ground south of the Goch-Cleve railway which dominates the direct approach from Goch to Weeze. As a result of careful planning his Brigade early secured all their objectives. Throughout the operations commencing on 8 February and lasting to date he has commanded his Brigade with great courage, determination, and ability. He has always been an example and a steadying influence to his men.’

Order of St. John, Commander London Gazette 21 June 1968.

Order of St. John, Officer London Gazette 24 June 1938.

Henry Charles Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce, 7th Baron Thurlow of Thurlow, was born on 29 May 1910, the eldest son of the Revd. 6th Baron Thurlow and his wife Grace, daughter of Revd. Canon Henry Trotter, and was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He received a Commission into the Seaforth Highlanders as a Second Lieutenant on 28 August 1930, and left for Palestine with his Regiment in December 1933, having been promoted Lieutenant on 28 August 1933. He served as a signal officer in headquarters during the Arab-Jewish conflicts in 1936, before being appointed Aide-de-Camp to the High Commissioner for Palestine and Trans-Jordan on 15 December 1936. Promoted Captain on 28 August 1938, he held the post of Assistant Military Secretary, British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan from March 1940 until February 1941, when he was promoted temporary Major and attached to the the 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders, then operating with the 4th Indian Division against the Italians in Eritrea. He commanded a company during the East African Campaign and took part in the assault and capture of Keren. During 1941-42 he served with the Libyan Arab Force in the Western Desert and from December 1942 until June 1943, when he was appointed Brigade-Major of the 152nd Brigade, 51st Highland Division, serving with them during the North African Campaign, and receiving a Mention in Despatches for ‘gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East (London Gazette 13 January 1944).
Having spent 1944 in England as a Staff Instructor, he requested a return to the division and was posted second-in-command of the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders just before D-Day. On 6 June 1944 he landed with the battalion near Courseulles on the Normandy coast and immediately saw heavy fighting, with the battalion suffering severe casualties in the fighting around Caen in June and July 1944, losing over 200 men in the first month, including the Commanding Officer. Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce was given the command and remained in command of the 1st Gordons throughout the fighting across France, Belgium, and Holland, including the Battle of Le Havre, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. A fellow officer described his first impression of his new Commanding Officer: ‘He seems a charming chap, perhaps a slightly unorthodox military figure with his rather old-fashioned curly moustache, white framed horn rimmed spectacles, and a slight stoop. I hope to God he knows his job’, before adding at the end of the campaign, ‘I never met a Commanding Officer who is less feared yet so much respected and adored, nor one for whom people would go to such pains to produce good results.’ On 27 November 1944 he was appointed Brigade-Commander of the 44th Lowland Brigade, 15th Scottish Division, and led the Brigade as they fought through the Siegfried Line and across the Rhine and Elbe Rivers, for which he received a Second Award Bar to his D.S.O.
Post War he commanded a number of Army training centres, and was promoted Colonel on 31 December 1952 and advanced to Brigadier in 1954. Taking command of the 39th Infantry Brigade in East Africa, he commanded them during the Mau Mau Emergencies in Kenya, and was Mentioned in Despatches ‘in recognition of distinguished service in Kenya during the period 21 April to 20 October 1954’ (
London Gazette 1 January 1955), and appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. From May 1959 until May 1962 he served as Major-General in command of the 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division, being promoted Major-General on 1 June 1959, and then from November 1962 until December 1963 as General Officer Commanding, Malta and Libya. He retired on account of disability on 24 March 1964.

Elected President of the Royal Society for Missions to Seamen in 1965, a charitable society to which his father had also served as President, he subsequently served as Chairman of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association. In 1968 he was advanced to Commander of the Order of St. John, having been appointed an Officer of the Order some 30 years previously. When he first arrived to command the Gordon Highlanders in July 1944, the unfamiliar black medal-riband of the Order caused much speculation among his troops. When his servant asked them what they believed it to be, the reply was ‘Well Sir, we thought that perhaps both your parents were killed in the Blitz.’

He succeeded his father as 7th Baron Thurlow on the latter’s death on 23 April 1952. Lord Thurlow died unmarried at Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, following a heart attack, on 29 May 1971, the day of his 61st birthday, and was succeeded to the Barony by his younger brother, the Hon. Sir Francis Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce, K.C.M.G. The title is extant, and is currently held by the recipient’s nephew.

Sold together with a large quantity of copied research including numerous photographic images.