A Collection of Medals to the 42nd Highlanders and 73rd Foot (Black Watch)

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Date of Auction: 28th February 2018

Sold for £600

Estimate: £700 - £900

A Great War 1916 ‘French theatre’ D.C.M. awarded to Private W. George, 1st Battalion, Royal Highlanders, who, having already been wounded at Ypres in 1914, was killed in action during the attack on Contalmaison Villa, Somme, 14 July 1916

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (8036 Pte. W. George. 1/R. Hdrs) light scratches, good very fine £700-900

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 21 June 1916:

‘For conspicuous gallantry. He carried messages under heavy fire, and maintained communication between the Battalion machine-guns. He also on his own initiative crossed the open and brought up badly needed ammunition.’

William George was born in Kirriemuir, Forfarshire, Scotland. He served with the Royal Highlanders during the Second Boer War (entitled to Q.S.A. with ‘Orange Free State’ and ‘South Africa 1902’ clasps). George served during the Great War with the 1st Battalion, Royal Highlanders in the French theatre of war from 13 August 1914. An extract from The Courier, 19 July 1916, gives the following:

‘Six weeks after receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry on the battlefield, Private William George, a Forfarian serving in the Black Watch, has met his death in action.

Yesterday a letter from Private Robert Aitchison, another Forfar soldier in the same regiment, conveyed the sad news of George’s fate to his relatives in Forfar, it being stated that he was struck on the back on Friday last, and died from the effects almost immediately.

Private George had earned a reputation for himself for his gallantry during the war. At considerable personal danger he had rendered services to comrades on the battlefield on various occasions and those whom he had thus assisted were loud in their praises of his heroism.... Joining the army originally in 1901, Private George served for seven years, most of which time was spent in India... When war broke out he was summoned to the Colours as a Reservist. At Ypres in November 1914, he sustained severe injuries from a shell, and he was out of the fighting until March 1915, when he rejoined the Battalion.’

George served with the Battalion as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division on the Somme in July 1916. He was killed in action during the attack on Contalmaison Villa, 14 July 1916:

‘For one day there was a comparative lull; then on the 14th two platoons, approaching under cover of darkness from opposite directions, captured the fortification known as Contalmaison Villa. As was natural when the advance had been so indirect, there was a difficulty organising a new line; and two officers attached to Battalion Headquarters, Lieutenants Marcus Gunn and Duncan Murray-Menzies, who had exceeded their instructions by joining the fighting, behaved very gallantly in helping the reorganisation. Lieutenant Gunn returned to report the new line; but his night’s work was not yet over; in an old dug-out he discovered twelve Germans who had taken refuge on the failure of their counter-attack of the 12th. Except for a clasp-knife, he was unarmed; but he threatened them vigourously with the knife, which they took to be a revolver, and brought them in as prisoners.

The casualties of the night were not heavy; but among others, one gallant soldier, who had served the regiment faithfully in many a fight, was killed - Private George, runner to Lieutenant Gunn.’ (Regiment History refers)

Private George is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme.

Sold with copied research, including a small photographic image of recipient in uniform.