Medals from the Collection of Peter Duckers

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Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £3,600

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400

A Great War ‘Western Front’ M.C. group of eight awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel R. F. Francis, 11th Sikhs, late 47th Sikhs and East Lancashire Regiment, who was twice Mentioned in Despatches and twice wounded in Mesopotamia during the Great War, later becoming Commandant of the 4/11th Sikhs

Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; 1914 Star, with clasp (Capt. R. F. Francis, 47/Sikhs); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Major. R. F. Francis.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, North West Frontier 1930-31 (Maj. R. F. Francis. 4-11 Sikh. R.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Jubilee 1935, unnamed as issued, lacquered, good very fine (8) £1,000-£1,400

Footnote

M.C. London Gazette 1 January 1916.

Reginald Frankland Francis was born in 1886 in Dharwar, India, and commissioned into the East Lancashire Regiment in 1905. In 1907 he transferred to the Indian Army, was posted to the 47th Sikh Regiment and advanced to Lieutenant. He saw service during the Great War on the Western Front from 18 August 1914, and was promoted Captain on 27 September 1914. The following month, on 23 October, the 47th Sikhs first came under shellfire and sustained casualties at Fauquissart. He remained in that theatre until the Indian Corps were withdrawn in the winter of 1915. During that time the 47th Sikhs were present at many significant actions including La Bassee, Armentieres, Givenchy, Neuve Chapelle, Second Ypres, St Julien, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos (at Pietre). It seems reasonable to conclude that Francis managed to survive these actions without becoming a casualty on account of his duties as regimental quartermaster. Every other British officer who first landed in France with the regiment had either been killed or wounded by March 1915. However, the harsh conditions did see him succumb to sickness for one year from October 1915 after which time his regiment had transferred to Mesopotamia. For his services in France and Flanders, Francis was awarded the Military Cross and Mentioned in Dispatches (London Gazette 1 January 1916).

In November 1916 Francis re-joined his regiment in Mesopotamia as Double Company Commander and served in the operations which led to the capture of Kut, including the capture of Khadaire Bend during which he was wounded during fierce fighting on 11 January 1917:
‘Just after the attack began, men of the 2/124th – mainly Hazaras – were seen running in great confusion along the Turk second line towards our picquet at J14H. Captain Francis commanding D Company tried to rally them. It appeared that when the attack of the 9th Brigade had failed, owing to enfilade fire from the left bank of the river, the Turks counter-attacked across the open against the right of the 9th Brigade, and the Company of the 2/124th on the left of the 8th Brigade line. The latter broke, some towards D Company, some over the open to the rear, while some attempted to surrender to the Turks. These last the Turks bayoneted. About 100 of the enemy, emboldened by this success, advanced on J14H but were soon stopped by our fire. A second and larger party entered the trench north of K15A and advanced northwards. They were stopped, after hand-to-hand fighting, by men of the 2/124th who had not panicked, assisted by our bombers sent by Captain Francis. Casualties on both sides were heavy, 50 dead Turks were counted and about the same number of 2/124th. Eight of our regimental bombers were involved, 2 were killed and 5 wounded. Captain Francis was also wounded at this time, and 2nd Lieut. Clive took over command of D Company.’ (
47th Sikhs in the Great War 1914-18 refers).

Francis was wounded for a second time on 21 May 1917 during the search of a Khazraj house at Sumaikah, a village in hostile Arab territory, but was able to return to his unit on 15 June 1917. The following year he saw out the war in Mesopotamia on a series of Staff appointments. He was Mentioned in Despatches a second time for these services (London Gazette 21 February 1918).

Post-War, Francis served as GSO 2 with various commands between 1920-22, including as Intelligence Officer to the Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf, 1920-21, and DAQMG to Delhi Brigade, 1921-22 (including the Royal Visit section). Appointed Lieutenant Colonel in 1931, he was appointed Commandant of the 4/11th Sikhs in that year and remained in office until retirement in 1935. He briefly saw staff service again during the Second World War, and died in Kensington in 1955.

Sold with copied research.