A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the South Wales Borderers
Date of Auction: 28th February 2018
Sold for £1,800
Estimate: £1,400 - £1,800
Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; 1914-15 Star (2. Lieut. A. C. R. Welsh. Glouc. R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lieut. A. C. R. Welsh.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 (Capt. A. C. R. Welsh, 2-119 Infy.) minor official correction to unit; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, good very fine (7) £1400-1800
FootnoteM.C. London Gazette 22 September 1916:
‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led a party of bombers with great dash, and refused to retire after he had been wounded.’
Arthur Conrad Robert Welsh was born on 14 July 1891 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (Territorial Force)on 9 November 1914. He served with the 1st/5th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment during the Great War on the Western Front from 18 July 1915, before being granted a permanent commission in the South Wales Borderers on 4 February 1916. Posted to the 1st Battalion, he served with them during the Battle of the Somme, and was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry at Poziers on 25 July 1916:
‘The 1st Battalion’s spell of rest had been but brief. By July 21st it was back at Lozenge Wood, prior to relieving the Northamptonshires of the 2nd Brigade in the front line near Contalmaison Villa in the small hours of July 24th. Here the battalion was confronted with Munster Alley, a trench south of the Bapaume road, which had already repulsed several attempts. Undeterred by this, at 2:00 a.m. on July 25th, “A” and “D” Companies, in two lines of platoons at fifty paces interval and thirty paces distance, began climbing out of our front line, here called Sussex Trench, and advanced, only to be met by a heavy fire from machine guns which our bombardment had failed to silence. However, Captain Walsh led his company forward with great courage and resolution and was magnificently backed up by the young subalterns on whom the leading of companies and platoons had now devolved. Second Lieutenant Garnons-Williams, who had remained at duty though wounded, set a fine example and kept his men in hand splendidly, Second Lieutenant Evans fell heading a charge, and close up to the German trench, Second Lieutenant Welsh led a party of bombers with great dash, refusing to go back even when wounded, while Second Lieutenant Skinner was hit when leading his platoon of “B” Company up to support some of “A” who had reached a shallow trench on the left just short of the objective. Among this party was Private Wannell, who managed to bring his Lewis gun into action and did splendid work, knocking out a hostile machine gun only a little distance away and being mainly instrumental, along with Company Sergeant Major Power, in repulsing a counter-attack. Elsewhere,no one could get anywhere near the German line and nearly all the other officers had fallen. Realising the failure of the attack, Colonel Collier ordered the companies to withdraw at once and to concentrate on getting in the wounded before dawn. Many were brought in, Company Sergeant Major Power going out fifty yards to the front to rescue one man. Four officers were killed and six, including Second Lieutenant Welsh wounded, while casualties among the rank and file came to nearly eighty.’ (The History of the South Wales Borderers, by Captain C. T. Atkinson refers).
Welsh was promoted Lieutenant on 9 August 1916, before embarking for India on 17 September 1917. He was seconded for duty with the 2nd Battalion, 119th Infantry (Mooltan Regiment), Indian Army, being appointed a Company Commander on attachment with the rank of acting Captain. His appointment to the Indian Army was made official on 17 October 1918, and he served with them in the Third Afghan War, being promoted Captain on 9 August 1919. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he was granted a Regular Army Emergency Commission in the Royal Army Service Corps on 6 July 1940, and was appointed Adjutant on 24 February 1941.