The Julian Johnson Collection

Date of Auction: 10th May 2017

Sold for £3,800

Estimate: £2,600 - £3,000

A superb Great War ‘1916’ D.S.O., and ‘Battle of Langemarck’ 1917 Second Award Bar group of eight awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel P. L. Ingpen, who despite being only a Captain commanded the 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment at the Battle of Neuve Chappelle, March 1915, and subsequently the 1/8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, 1915-17. Twice wounded in action, once severely, and 6 times mentioned in despatches.

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar, silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 2 clasps, Transvaal, South Africa 1902 (Capt: P. L. Ingpen, W. York: Rgt:) last clasp a tailor’s copy; 1914 Star, with copy clasp (Capt: P. L. Ingpen, W. York: R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (Lt. Col. P. L. Ingpen.); Delhi Durbar 1911, engraved ‘Capt. P. L. Ingpen W. York. Regt.’; Belgium, Order of the Crown, 4th Class breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, with rosette on riband; Belgium, Croix de Guerre, ‘A.I.R.’, mounted court-style as worn, generally good very fine (8) £2600-3000

Footnote

Provenance: Spink, November 1998.

D.S.O. London Gazette 3 June 1916.

D.S.O. Second Award Bar London Gazette 26 September 1917:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an action his battalion headquarters were demolished by shell fire, and he was only extricated with great difficulty. Though ordered to hand over his command, he went to the front-line trenches on hearing that the enemy was counter-attacking. He remained there until dangerously wounded, restoring confidence by his example at a most critical period.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 22 June 1915, 15 June 1916, 4 January 1917, 22 May 1917, 18 December 1917 and 27 February 1918.

Belgium, Order of the Crown, 4th Class London Gazette 24 September 1917.

Belgium, Croix de Guerre London Gazette 11 March 1918.

Percy Leigh Ingpen was born in London, in February 1874. He was educated at Charterhouse and Sandhurst, before being commissioned Second Lieutenant, West Yorkshire Regiment, in October 1894. He served in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Malay States prior to advancing to the rank of Captain in March 1901. He served with the Regiment in South Africa, January 1902 - January 1903, and went with the 2nd Battalion to France in 1914. Despite his rank he commanded the 2nd Battalion between 10 January 1915 - 22 March 1915, including at the battle of Neuve Chappelle, as part of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, 10-13 March 1915. At the latter, on 10 March, ‘At 8.30am the 2nd West Yorkshires had moved up from the Rue du Tilleloy, into the trenches at “E” vacated by the Middlesex. The enemy had by now opened fire with his artillery and in this position the Yorkshiremen had many casualties. About 9.40am a wounded officer arrived at 23rd Infantry Brigade Headquarters and stated that the Scottish Rifles were holding the line with difficulty. The 2nd Devons followed a little later by a platoon of Brigade Bombers and D and C Companies of the 2nd West Yorkshires, under Capt. Francis, were immediately sent forward via Sign Post Lane. With these reinforcements the attack made further progress towards Points 41 and 20.... At 11-5am a message from 8th Division Head Quarters was received saying that the 25th Infantry Brigade had cleared Neuve Chapelle and ordering the 23rd Infantry Brigade to take Points 20-21 and 6 at all costs....

Half-an-hour later A and B Companies of the West Yorkshires under Capt. Ingpen, the last reserves of the Brigade, had been put into the line. These two Companies were ordered to make good Point 6 and work towards Point 60, the attack to take place at 12-15 after the artillery had shelled the former point.... The guns opened fire on Point 6 and at 12-15 A and B Companies under Capt. Ingpen went forward to the attack which was entirely successful: Point 6 was reported captured at 12-30pm. “A” Company then worked towards 60-83 and 60-61-8, all of which approaches were blocked.’ (The West Yorkshire Regiment In The War 1914-1918, E. Wyrall refers)

The remainder of the 10th saw Ingpen’s men consolidating their position, and on the 11th, ‘the battalion under the command of Capt. Ingpen relieved the Royal Irish Rifles in trenches running from 31, south-west in front of the château (between 31 and 29) with one Company in support on the road in Neuve Chapelle village ready to relieve the Rifle Brigade.... All day long the West Yorkshires and the whole of the line were heavily shelled, the enemy’s newly arrived guns having opened at dawn with a very heavy bombardment... the 11th passed without any substantial gain.’

On 12 March the Germans counter-attacked, ‘at 8-12am 8th Division Headquarters received a message from the 24th Infantry Brigade which stated that the enemy had launched a big counter-attack against the line of road between 94 and 92 and the Sherwood Foresters had been forced to retire to its support trenches. The Germans had advanced in considerable force, but as they occupied the position evacuated by the Sherwood Foresters, a heavy enfilade fire was opened by “A” Company 2nd West Yorkshires who held Point 31, with the result that the enemy losing heavily was beaten back.

The timely aid given by the West Yorkshiremen saved the position from capture! By this time a general hostile attack on the whole line was in progress, but was everywhere repulsed with very heavy loss to the enemy.’ (Ibid)

Ingpen’s men remained in position in the village of Neuve Chappelle for most of the 13th, and ‘The Battle of Neuve Chappelle was over. On the 14th, at 9.30pm, the 2nd West Yorkshires (in brigade) having been relieved by by the 2nd Lincolns marched back into billets near Rouge Croix... the 2nd West Yorkshires had two officers killed... and five officers wounded; fifty-five other ranks killed, 162 wounded and eighteen missing - a total of seven officers and 242 other ranks.’ (Ibid)

Battle of Langemarck - A sea of mud and water

Appointed Brevet Major, Ingpen was posted to command the 8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment at the end of August 1915. Ingpen commanded the Battalion in action at Loos, the Somme, Arras, and the 3rd Ypres. He was twice wounded during that time, including at the Battle of Langemarck (16-18 August 1917):

‘In this battle three Battalions of the Middlesex Regiment, 2nd, 1/7th and 1/8th. took an active part, whilst two more, the 12th and 16th, were in reserve.... amidst appalling conditions, made great efforts to win through to their objectives. The 1/7th (Lieut.-Colonel F. W. D. Bendall) and 1/8th (Lieut.-Colonel P. L. Ingpen) Middlesex, of the 167th Brigade, 56th Division, were last mentioned as withdrawing to old German trenches covering Tilloy and to the Wancourt line respectively, after the operations (the Third Battle of the Scarpe) on 3rd and 4th May. Both Battalions went again into the front line on 16th [August], the 1/8th taking over the left sub-sector between Monchy and the Arras-Cambrai road, and the 1/7th the right sub-sector on the right of the 1/8th Battalion.... the 1/8th made two attacks....

At Zero hour (16 August) - 4.45 am - the attack began. The 1/8th Middlesex advanced in three waves, “B” Company leading, followed by “C” and “A”; “D” Company remained in reserve. One company of the 3rd Londons was attached to the Middlesex as “moppers-up.”

Between the British and German trenches there was a valley, and as the troops reached the low ground they were brought up suddenly: a broad belt of mud lay before them. This belt was said to be about 30 yards broad, from 4 to 5 feet deep, covered with from 6 inches to a foot of water. As it was impossible to get through this sea of mud and water, “B” Company was forced to edge off to the left, while the left battalion of 169th Brigade, also encountering the same obstacle, had no option but to bear off to the right. When, therefore, the O.C., “B” Company, reached the southern edge of the Nonne Bosschen Wood he found he had lost touch with the right flanking unit, which he could see advancing over the ground to the south-east. By this time he had lost touch with the barrage. Moreover, hostile machine-gun and rifle fire across the valley, as well as the mud, prevented him getting any further. After several vain attempts to advance, “B” and “C” Companies tried to consolidate their position, but were prevented by the mud. Light trench mortars were sent for, but before they could reach the forward companies of the Middlesex the teams were shot down. At 7am troops of the 169th Brigade could be seen falling back, but the situation of the 1/8th Middlesex remained unchanged. At 10am, however, as the flanks of the Battalion were exposed, the first line of the Middlesex was withdrawn to a position about half-way between Jabber Trench (the “jumping-off” line) and the eastern edge of the Nonne Bosschen Wood, the position being covered by posts in front. But there was little security in this line, for at least a dozen German aeroplanes were in the air above the Middlesex, some flying low down and machine-gunning the troops as they crouched in their posts. One was brought down by Lewis-gun fire. At 1pm the enemy’s guns opened fire on the Middlesex heavily, and many casualties were suffered. This fire continued until 3pm. The Germans were then seen massing on the left front of the Brigade. At 4pm they advanced and the Divisional guns placed a large barrage on the line of the Hannebeke stream. The enemy was, however, probably intent on gaining his former positions only, as it was just as impossible for him to cross the sea of mud as it had been for the troops of the 167th Brigade to pass through it.

Just before 6pm numbers of troops of all units who were retiring were collected by Lieut.-Colonel Ingpen, who, forming them into two waves, led them forward again to the original front line of the 1/8th Middlsex. In doing this he was wounded.’ (The Die-Hards In The Great War, E. Wyrall, refers)

The severity of Ingpen’s wounds caused him to relinquish the command of the Battalion in August 1917. He was, however, awarded the Second Award Bar to his D.S.O. for his gallantry at Langemarck. Ingpen was appointed Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 1 January 1918, and commanded the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, 1923-1926. He retired in May of the latter year, ‘after thirty-one years in the Regiment... was given a send-off, befitting his honourable service. Led by the Band and Drums and twelve officers mounted on six grey and six bay horses, and followed by the entire remainder of the Battalion, he was escorted to the high road outside the camp, where, passing through the cheering escort, he drove off to Belfast and thence to York, where, we understand, he is settling for the present.’ (ĆA Ira refers)

Sadly Ingpen died in 1930, ‘Col. Ingpen never really recovered from these wounds, and during the past year [1929] their effects have often caused him intense suffering; they doubtless contributed, in no small degree, to his early death.’ (Ibid)

Full military honours accompanied Ingpen’s interment at Fulford Water Cemetery in August 1930.

Sold with copied research, including photocopies of the recipient’s original bestowal document for the D.S.O., 6 M.I.D. Certificates, and bestowal documents for his foreign awards; and photographic images of recipient in uniform.