A Collection of Awards to the Worcestershire Regiment formed by Group Captain J. E. Barker

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Date of Auction: 27th September 2017

Sold for £2,800

Estimate: £2,200 - £2,600

A Great War 1915 ‘Battle of Loos’ D.C.M., 1916 Medaille Militaire group of five awarded to Company Sergeant Major D. C. Sumner, Worcestershire Regiment, who was mortally wounded, 7 May 1916, when shot through the heart whilst encouraging his men

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (8827 C.S. Mjr: D. C. Sumner. 2/Worc: R.); 1914 Star, with clasp (8827 L-Sjt. D. C. Summer. [Sic.] 2/Worc: R.); British War and Victory Medals (8827 W.O. Cl. 2. D. C. Sumner. Worc. R.) BWM suspension claw loose; France, Third Republic, Medaille Militaire, silver, silver-gilt, and enamel, with trophy of arms suspension, reverse engraved ‘8827. C.S.M. D. Sumner’, enamel damage to motto; Memorial Plaque (David Charles Sumner) last in card envelope of issue, with riband bar, generally good very fine unless otherwise stated (6) £2200-2600

Footnote

Provenance: Glendining’s, November 1994.

D.C.M. London Gazette 14 January 1916 (details appeared in London Gazette of 11 March 1916):

‘For conspicuous gallantry and ability in an attack. He led forward his company after all the officers had become casualties and organised the defence of the line reached.’

France, Medaille Militaire London Gazette 24 February 1916.

David Charles Sumner was born in Ash, Surrey, in June 1887. He served in the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, prior to the Great War and had advanced to Corporal by 1911. Sumner served during the Great War as a Lance Sergeant with the 2nd Battalion in the French theatre of war from 12 August 1914. The Battalion fought in the Battle of Mons, the Retreat from Mons, the Battles of the Marne, the Aisne, Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Nonne Bosschen.

In 1915, the Battalion were engaged at Festubert and at Loos - the latter from 25 September to 8 October 1915. Sumner advanced to Company Sergeant Major, and distinguished himself early in the morning of 27 September 1915. The previous day the Battalion had suffered grievous casualties trying to capture the Quarries, and when ‘night fell amid pouring rain, and it became possible to collect the wounded and count the loss. Of the 2nd Worcestershire nearly half had fallen - 13 officers and more than 300 NCO’s and men. The 2nd-in-Command, all four Company Commanders, the Machine-Gun Officer, the Medical Officer and three out of the four Company Sergeant Majors [with the exception of Sumner] were casualties. Of the officers of the Battalion there now remained the C.O., the Adjutant, and six young 2nd Lieutenants to command the four companies, which between them could muster some five hundred NCO’s and men. All through the night the stretcher-bearers worked across the field of battle, searching for the wounded amid intermittent rifle and machine-gun fire, whilst the fighting troops laboured to improve the half-dug trench and to protect their front by a wire entanglement.....

All night officers and men worked hard, and by dawn [27th] the new line was fairly consolidated. On the left flank a deep communication trench ran forward from the position of the Battalion to the enemy’s line, and at 5am a strong German bombing party advanced along that trench. A sharp fight ensued, evidently as a preliminary to a general attack, for bayonets were seen bristling up from the enemy’s parapet all along the line. The Worcestershire companies opened rapid fire, the bombers in the communication trench were driven back after a determined fight and for the moment the danger passed. In consolidation of the position, splendid work was done by Sergt. D. C. Sumner, who had gallantly led his company forward after all the officers were hit. He was ably assisted by Sergt J. Birch. Both were awarded the D.C.M.’ (The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War, by Captain H. FitzM. Stacke, M.C., refers)

The 2nd Battalion moved to the Bethune sector as part of the 33rd Division in early 1916. Sumner was mortally wounded, 7 May 1916, the circumstances were recorded in the diary of Captain C. H. Pigg (later published in the regimental journal Firm, Volume 16):

‘That night the battalion suffered a great loss in the death of Company Sergeant Major D. C. Sumner, of “B” Company. He was a splendid soldier, robust and cheerful, and it was a tonic merely to see him. He had won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Loos, and only in February had been decorated with the Medaille Militaire, the highest French decoration for gallantry in action. He went out to help and encourage a corporal and two men who were putting up wire at a point less than a hundred yards from the enemy, and was shot through the heart. Not long before he died he had given me a particularly good specimen of the nosecap of a German shell which he had picked up in the line; it is one of the few souvenirs of the war which I still keep.’

Company Sergeant Major Sumner died 8 May 1916, and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery, France.

Sold with a file of copied research, including several photographic images of recipient in uniform.