Medals from the Collection of Peter Duckers

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Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £9,000

Estimate: £2,400 - £2,800

A rare and impressive Great War ‘Mesopotamia’ D.S.O., ‘Western Front’ M.C. group of nine awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel S. B. Combe, 47th Sikhs, Indian Army, who was twice wounded, four times Mentioned in Despatches, and was the only British officer of his Regiment to serve from the original landing in France in September 1914 through to the return to India in 1920
Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed as issued; China 1900, no clasp (Lieut. S. B. Combe, 2d. Rajput Lt. Infy.); 1914 Star, with clasp (Capt. S. B. Combe. 47th Sikhs.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Lt. Col. S. B. Combe); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; France, Third Republic, Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver-gilt, silver and enamel, poincon mark to base of tassel; together with the recipient’s 47th Sikhs shoulder title; silver Turban Badge; and waist belt clasp, generally good very fine (12) £2,400-£2,800


D.S.O. London Gazette 11 January 1919
‘For conspicuous gallantry. He carried out a reconnaissance of the enemy's position under heavy fire, pushed back the enemy piquets, assaulted and carried the whole of his objective, three lines of enemy trenches. Later, though having suffered heavy casualties in officers and men, he successfully beat off a counter attack. He has shown great judgement and ability in command on all occasions.’

M.C. London Gazette 14 January 1916.

Sydney Boyce Combe was born in 1878, the son of of General Boyce Combe C.B., a distinguished cavalry officer who was appointed Colonel of the 14th Hussars in 1904. His other military antecedents included, amongst others, an uncle, Lieutenant Charles Combe, who was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Khushab in 1857, and Captain Boyce Combe, 2nd Native Infantry, who received the Army of India medal with two clasps for service in the Mahratta War (both of whose medals were sold in these rooms as part of the Brian Ritchie Collection in March 2005).

Combe was educated at St. Paul’s School, London, and commissioned Second Lieutenant, Unattached List, Indian Army on 22 January 1898. He served with the Indian Staff Corps from May 1899 and was promoted to Lieutenant in April 1900. He served in the China Campaign in 1900 with the 2nd Rajputs and having been posted to the newly formed 47th Sikhs in 1901, served with them in the operations against the Darwesh Khel Waziris in 1902.

From November 1901 to April 1903 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to his father, by then a Major-General, Rawalpindi District, and was present at the Delhi Durbar of 1903 in this capacity but did not receive the Durbar medal. He was promoted Captain in 1907.

During the Great War, Combe served with the 47th Sikhs with the British Expeditionary Force in France from 27 September 1914 to 16 December 1915. He was wounded near Fauquissart, leading No. 3 Company on 26 October 1914 when in support of the 34th Pioneers, who were being overwhelmed. His orderly was also wounded while carrying him back to the safety of his own lines.

Combe took command of the regiment on 12 March 1915, during the fighting near the Bois du Biez (Neuve Chapelle) when Lieutenant-Colonel Richardson was wounded. He was himself wounded, this time severely, by a High Explosive shell on 9 May 1915 whilst observing the progress of the Meerut Division from the forward observation trench near the Rue du Bois. For his services, he was awarded the Military Cross and Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 1 January 1916).

Advanced to Major in September 1915, by 17 December Combe was the only remaining British officer who had landed with the Battalion in France in 1914. Combe went on to witness further action with the 47th Sikhs in Mesopotamia. Serving there between January 1916 and June 1918, he took command of the Regiment on 8 October 1916 and remained Commanding Officer until the end of the war. Promoted to Acting Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1916 and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in June 1917, he was awarded the D.S.O. for the battle near Jibn Wadi (Daur/Tekrit operations), 5–6 November 1917. He next added the French Legion of Honour as Chevalier (Gazette of India, 1 December 1917) to his accolades as well as being twice more Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 15 August 1917 and 27 August 1918).

After service in Mesopotamia, the regiment joined the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine. Combe served in that theatre until 31 October 1918, again being Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 5 June 1919). The regiment left Palestine and embarked for India in January 1920. Having spent over five years abroad, Combe was the only British officer to serve from the original landing in France in September 1914 through to the return to India in 1920.

Lieutenant-Colonel Combe retired on 22 January 1921 but returned to serve during the Second World War as Controller, V.A.D., for Denbighshire district and as Co-opted Member of the Denbighshire Territorial Army Association. He died suddenly at his then residence, ‘High Cross’, West Chinnock, Somerset, in September 1949.

Combe’s Great War career is mentioned frequently and extensively in the ‘The War Record of the 46th Sikhs’, a reprint (1992) of a typescript account of the 47th in the Great War. It contains a wealth of details of personal incidents relating to him, suggesting that he may have been the author (or at least co-author) of the typescript history published in 1922.

Sold with copied research.