Medals from the Collection of Peter Duckers

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Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £4,400

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

An exceptionally rare Maharajah of Nawanagar’s Order of Merit, First Class in Gold group of ten awarded to Major C. H. E. Wilson, Royal Field Artillery, who served as Commandant of the Maharajah’s State Forces

Natal 1906, 1 clasp 1906 (3008 Trooper Wilson N.M.R.) renamed; 1914-15 Star (Lieut. C. H. E. Wilson R.F.A.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Major C. H. E. Wilson); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 (Major C. H. E. Wilson, R.F.A.); 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal 1939-45; Africa Service Medal; the Second War awards all officially named ‘163162 C. H. E. Wilson’; Indian States, Nawangar, State Order of Merit, First Class in Gold, 1 clasp, First Class, the obverse featuring an image of Maharaja Jam Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, GCSI, GBE, circumscribed ‘Order of Merit . Nawanagur State, the reverse inscribed ‘Loyalty, Charity, Philanthropy, Fidelity’ beneath four allegorical figures representing those virtues, the edge engraved ‘Major C. H. Wilson’, 35mm, gold (15ct., hallmarks for Birmingham 1918), mounted as worn, contact marks, nearly very fine, the last good very fine and exceptionally rare (10) £1,800-£2,200


Cecil Henry Erskine Wilson was born in 1883 at Quetta, Baluchistan, the son of C. H. L. F. Wilson, an army officer. He was educated at Wellington College after which he lived in South Africa for some time, claiming service in the Natal Mounted Police prior to his application for a wartime Commission in 1914. He wore the Natal 1906 medal with clasp, named to him as a Trooper in the Natal Mounted Police but the medal is renamed and his entitlement is not confirmed.

Wilson joined the Indian Service as early as 1907, working as an assistant in the Salt Revenue Department, Northern Frontier, Bombay and apart from war service remained in the Salt Revenue Department until his retirement in 1933, aged 50. He was based for some time at Kharaghoda in Gujerat, site of a major salt works. His own statement of service declares that he ‘held non-gazetted appointments from 15 August 1907 to 17 August 1915; Assistant Collector of Salt Revenue August 1915; on military duty 22 August 1914 to 20 September 1919; Superintendent of Salt and Excise, September 1920; Assistant Collector of Salt Revenue, September 1926; on deputation to Jamnagara State [historically known as Nawanagar], Gujerat, April 1928 to Apil 1931. Retired 1933.’

Wilson was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery in November 1914, and promoted to Temporary Captain in June 1915. He was in France firstly with 122 Battery, 27 Brigade R.F.A., in 1915 (2nd Ypres), then with D Battery, 70 Brigade R.F.A., which served at Loos and became B Howitzer Battery, 73 Brigade R.F.A., which served extensively on the Somme in 1916 (Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette, Martinpuich, Transloy Ridges &c.). Posted to India early in 1917, he commanded 101 Battery in Quetta and Baluchistan from August 1917 to demobilisation, and then took the Battery to Afghanistan on active service in 1919.

Wilson returned to service in Nawanagar after the war and apart from his work in the Salt Revenue served in the Maharajah’s state forces, becoming Commandant of the Nawanagar Imperial Service Lancers. For this service, he was awarded the Nawanagar Order of Merit, First Class in gold.

After retirement in 1933, Wilson and his family lived for some time in Australia where he became a well-known fisherman and sportsman offering expert guidance in fishing on Lindeman Island (off Queensland in the Coral Sea), now part of a National Park.
Prior to the Second World War, Wilson and his family moved to South Africa and farmed at Ifafa Beach near Durban. On the outbreak of war, Wilson lowered his age by five years to gain acceptance into the South African army, serving with them as an officer from July 1940, largely in East Africa, briefly with the British Military Mission to Ethiopia and then on garrison and lines of communication centred on Nairobi with South African ‘native’ units. In April 1943 he was posted back to Durban and served in various administrative roles until released from service in June 1945.

Sold with detailed research, copies of his R.A. officer service record and South African military papers. Also with an original group photograph showing officers of the Maharajah of Nawanagar's forces, with Wilson in centre wearing medals.

Note: The Nawanagar State Order of Merit, instituted by Maharaja Jam Sahib Sir Ranjitsinhji in 1915 as a reward for loyal, philanthropic, charitable, faithful and long service by state officials and subjects was renamed the Ranjitsinhji Medal of Merit in 1936 and is awarded in three classes, gold, silver and copper. Tony McClenaghan in his Indian Princely Medals states that very few of these gold medals are known to have been awarded- perhaps fewer than ten, although figures are hard to find.