A Fine Collection of Medals Relating to Rhodesia and South Africa

Date of Auction: 10th May 2017

Sold for £7,500

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A rare Rhodesia 1896 D.S.O. group of four awarded to Major H. E. Vernon, Rifle Brigade, who played a leading role in the storming of Makoni’s Kraal in August 1896

Distinguished Service Order, V.R., silver-gilt and enamels, complete with top suspension brooch; British South Africa Company Medal 1890-97, reverse Rhodesia 1896 (Captn. H. E. Vernon. Rif. Bde.); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 5 clasps, Cape Colony, Defence of Ladysmith, Orange Free State, Laing’s Nek, Belfast (Capt: H. E. Vernon, D.S.O., Rif: Bde: M.I.); King's South Africa 1901-02, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Maj. H. E. Vernon. D.S.O. Rif. Bde. (I.S.S.A.)) the first with some chipping to both wreaths, otherwise good very fine and better (4) £4000-5000


D.S.O. London Gazette 7 May, 1897, ‘In recognition of services during the recent operations in South Africa.’ Seven D.S.O.’s were awarded for the operations in Rhodesia in 1896, this being the only such award to the Rifle Brigade.

Hubert Edward Vernon was born on 7 May 1867, at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, son of Sir Harry Foley Vernon, Bart. He was educated at Eton and Sandhurst; was Gazetted on 28 June, 1888, to the 1st battalion, The Rifle Brigade, which he joined in India, and served with it till 30 March, 1892, when he was transferred to the 4th battalion.

Captain Vernon served in Mashonaland in 1896 with the Mounted Infantry, as Temporary Staff Officer. He was mentioned in despatches London Gazette 9 March, 1897, and created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. The insignia were presented to him by Field Marshal Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, at a manœuvre review parade 17 August, 1897. He was awarded the D.S.O. for his services in Mashonaland, and particularly for the leading part he took in the storming of Makoni’s Kraal, August 1896. Sir F. Carrington wrote of him in a despatch, dated 3 December, 1896 “that he was cool and dashing, an ideal Mounted Infantry officer.”

He was transferred 7 March, 1897, to the 4th battalion, of which he was appointed Adjutant in October 1897, a post which he held for two years, when, on the South African War breaking out, he was seconded for service on General Sir Francis Howard’s Staff, and under him took part in the Siege of Ladysmith. After the siege was raised he was in Sir Redvers Buller’s advance to Lydenburg, including the action of Bergendal. Subsequently he served successively as Staff Officer to a Mounted Infantry Column, and as D.A.A.G. to the Inspector-General of Mounted Infantry, and saw much service in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. He was Staff Officer to Captain Jenner’s Column under Colonel Alderson.

Major H. E. Vernon died at Pretoria on 22 September, 1902, from injuries received at Polo. General the Hon. Sir Neville Lyttleton, Commander-in-Chief in South Africa wrote: “He was one of the finest officers I have ever known in the regiment, both in peace and war.” And again: “It was a sight to see him in action - a leader whom men would follow anywhere.” General Alderson wrote from Pretoria: “I have known him since 1894. He was with me in Rhodesia in 1896. I then saw what an exceptionally fine and dashing officer he was. For the last few months he had been one of my Staff Officers, and I had got to appreciate his charming and upright personality and to realise his ability.” He was a splendid horseman, equally at home in the hunting field or at Polo. In 1898 and 1899 he played in several prominent Polo matches. He was a keen sportsman all round, both after big game in India and Africa and small game at home. For the South African campaign he received both medals and seven clasps, and was several times mentioned in despatches.