A Collection of Medals to the South Wales Borderers
Date of Auction: 27th February 2019
Sold for £380
Estimate: £400 - £500
Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal (6316 Pte. C. East. S. Wales Bord.); King’s South Africa 1901-1902, 2 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (6316 Pte. C. East. S. Wales Bord:); 1914 Star, with copy clasp (6316 Pte. C. East. S. Wales Bord.); British War and Victory Medals (6316 Pte. C. East. S. Wales Bord.) suspension post repaired to first and with some edge bruising and contact wear, therefore nearly very fine, the Great War trio nearly extremely fine (5) £400-£500
FootnoteCharles East was born in South Shields, one of seven children of Edward and Ann East. He enlisted in the South Wales Borderers in Leeds and served with the 2nd Battalion in South Africa at the conclusion of which he transferred to the 1st Battalion in India. He subsequently served during the Great War on the Western Front from 31 August 1914.
In late September 1914 at the Battle of the Aisne, the South Wales Borderers had come to a halt at Vendresse. Here a period of heavy fighting had seen the battalion withdraw to a ridge overlooking the Chivy Valley where woods offered cover for the Germans to mass for attacks. On 26 September 1914 the Germans launched a heavy, sustained assault on the Borderers lines. The regimental diary vividly describes the attack:
‘The most ghastly day of my life and yet one of the proudest because my Regiment did its job and held on against heavy odds. At 4.15 a.m. the Germans attacked. Main attack apparently against my Regiment , which is the left of our line. D and A Companies in the trenches. B and C hustled up to support and soon the whole place alive with bullets. News comes that they are trying to work around our left… Poor D Company had to face the music more than anyone else. Presently news comes that the Germans are in a quarry in the middle of our line. i.e. that our line was pierced. C Company drove them clean out… We were able to reorganise more or less, except for D Company’s far advanced trenches, and those we searched at night and found James wounded, Sills and Welby killed.
Total casualties. Killed – Welby, Simonds, Coker, Sills and 86 men; wounded – Pritchard, James and Gwynn slightly, and 95 men; and missing 12. These 12 were of D Company, and apparently surrendered. May they be spared to reach England again and be tried by Court Martial and get what they deserve. Never has the 24th surrendered yet, and in spite of casualties the rest of the Regiment stuck to it and fought as Englishmen and 24th men could fight.’ (The History of the South Wales Borderers 1914-18 by C. T. Atkinson refers).
East has no known grave and he is commemorated on La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France.