A Collection of Medals for the Russian Intervention 1918-20

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Date of Auction: 27th February 2019

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £2,600 - £3,000

A Great War 1918 ‘Battle of Bapaume’ M.C. and rare 1919 ‘Russian Intervention’ Second Award Bar group of four awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel H. S. Walker, 24th Battalion London Regiment, attached 45th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, late Seaforth Highlanders, who was awarded his Second Award Bar for leading his platoon to capture two machine guns under severe fire during the attack of 10 August 1919 and repulsing a Red Army attack on the rear of the withdrawing column whilst it was crossing the Sheika River, the same action for which Corporal Arthur Sullivan of the same unit was awarded the Victoria Cross

Military Cross, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar, unnamed as issued; 1914-15 Star (963 Pte. S. H. Walker. Sea. Highrs.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Capt. S. H. Walker.) mounted court-style as worn by Hunt & Roskell, London, generally good very fine (4) £2,600-£3,000

Footnote

M.C. London Gazette 30 July 1919:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the night September 1st/2nd, 1918, at St. Pierre Vaast Wood. When ordered to attack at short notice he volunteered to guide the battalion under most difficult conditions to the assembly position. No guides were available and by his skilful leadership the battalion was able to assemble although having to pass through a heavy enemy barrage. His skilfulness and total disregard of danger inspired all ranks.’


M.C. Second Award Bar London Gazette 21 January 1920:
‘He led his platoon with conspicuous gallantry and skill under severe machine-gun fire, successfully charging two machine guns. Subsequently, after the final objective had been taken, the rear of the column was subjected to severe fire by a strong enemy force. He immediately turned about his platoon and formed a line, thus helping to save a dangerous situation.’


Sidney Hamilton Walker attested as a Private for the Seaforth Highlanders and served with them during the Great War on the Western Front from 1 May 1915. He was commissioned Temporary Second Lieutenant in the 24th Battalion, London Regiment, on 24 October 1915, and was promoted Lieutenant on 1 July 1917, and acting Captain on 19 November 1917. He served with the Battalion as part of the 142nd Brigade on the Somme from August to September 1918:
‘The infantry brigades of the 47th Division were to relieve those of the 12th Division during the night of the 29th-30th August; but owing to the retirement of the enemy this change could not be carried out as planned, and it was arranged that the 142nd Brigade, to which mounted troops, artillery and machine guns had been attached, should, as advanced guard, pass through the line of the 12th Division at 6:00 a.m., the remainder of the division following. Actually, at the named hour the 142nd Brigade, realising that a deliberate attack was necessary, sent forward two battalions with the third in support, under a barrage. By 9:00 a.m. the 1/24th London on the right, having met only with slight opposition, although the 1/22nd London on the left came under considerable machine-gun fire from the north-east, had captured Hill 150 (2 miles north of Cléry), taken over a hundred prisoners, two field guns and a number of machine guns and had reached a line from the western side of Marrières Wood’ (
Official History of the War, Military Operations, France and Belgium 1918, vol. IV, refers).

Walker particularly distinguished himself on 1-2 September 1918, when ‘for half an hour before the 142nd Brigade started at 5.30 a.m. to pass through the 141st on the western edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood, the enemy maintained a heavy barrage, and throughout the advance over ground cut up by old trenches and shell-holes offered strong opposition [Private J. Harvey,1/22nd London Regiment was awarded the V.C. for this action]. Nevertheless, the brigade had a successful day. The 1/22nd London, on the right, reached a trench N.N.E. of Moislains, the northern part of the trench which the 140th had occupied; in the gap between the two brigades were several parties of Germans, those who, as above related, were using bombs against the 140th, and were not mopped up for some time. On the left, the 1/24th London managed to cut off a large party of Germans in dug-outs a little west of the south-west edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood; two officers and sixty men were captured, most of the rest making good their escape into the wood, where they stampeded some of their own defenders. The battalion was then able to reach the western edge of Vaux Wood, as intended, with its left bent back towards Lonely Copse.’ (ibid).

In addition to being awarded the Military Cross for the above action, Walker was also twice Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 25 May 1917 and 10 July 1919) for his services during the Great War on the Western Front.

Having volunteered for service with the Sadleir-Jackson Brigade of the North Russia Relief Force 1919 with whom he was attached to the 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, who along with their sister unit the 46th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, had been formed specifically for service in North Russia, Walker subsequently served during the Allied Intervention in North Russia, and was awarded a Second Award Bar to his Military Cross for his gallantry during the great ‘Dvina Offensive’ of 10 August 1919, the largest battle fought by British troops against the Soviet Red Army during British military intervention in the Russian Civil War - in the same action Corporal Arthur Sullivan, an Australian volunteer also serving with the 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War Walker enlisted in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps on 5 November 1939, and having been immediately advanced to Company Sergeant Major was commissioned Lieutenant on 27 April 1940, being advanced to temporary Lieutenant-Colonel on 17 November 1942. He relinquished his commission on 26 September 1947 and was granted the honorary rank of Colonel.

Note: Walker’s Bar to his M.C. was the only decoration awarded to any current or past member of the 24th Battalion, London Regiment for Russia 1918-20. Walker is mentioned on pages 270 and 273 of Churchill's Secret War with Lenin by Damien Wright.