The Collection of Medals to Yeomen of the Guard formed by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Denny
Date of Auction: 8th May 2019
Sold for £5,500
Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000
Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Colr-Serjt. C. Walker. 55th Regt.); China 1842 (Charles Walker. 55th Regiment Foot) original suspension; Crimea 1854-55, 3 clasps, Alma, Inkermann, Sebastopol (1500 Color Sergt.C. Walker. 55 Regt.) regimentally impressed naming, suspension post re-fixed; Turkish Crimea, Sardinian issue, unnamed, pierced with rings for suspension, traces of old lacquer, contact marks and edge bruising, therefore good fine and better (4) £4,000-£5,000
FootnoteProvenance: Dix Noonan Webb, July 2004
D.C.M. M.O. 20 August 1856; £10 Annuity. Awarded for gallantry at the battle of Inkermann.
The Regimental Museum of the Border Regiment holds a number of recommendations for the Victoria Cross for officers and men of the 55th in the Crimea. Amongst these is a recommendation for the award of the Victoria Cross to Charles Walker, which reads:
‘Distinguished gallantry at the Battle of Inkermann 5th November 1854, in recapturing one of our Field Guns which was being dragged away by some of the enemy - and which but for the gallant and determined conduct of Sergeant Walker would have been carried off by the Russians.’
The incident was vouched for by Private Thomas Leyland, 55th, and submitted for consideration by Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. B. Daubenay, Commanding 55th, in the following terms:
‘I beg most respectfully to recommend 1500 C’Sgt Walker of the Light Company for the new decoration of the Victoria Cross under the following circumstances.
On 5th November 1854, the memorable day of the Battle of Inkermann at which I was present, I saw C/Sgt Walker then Lance Sgt in the Grenadier Company, gallantly recapture a gun which the enemy were dragging away from G Battery 2 Div and afterwards succeeded in rescuing an Artillery Officer by his coolness and bravery from the enemy.’
Walker’s extraordinary gallantry at Inkermann is further described by Kingslake in his Invasion of the Crimea, vol. 6, who records: ‘In the earlier moments of the audacious attack the Colour Serjeant - Charles Walker, a man of great size and strength - had wielded the butt-end of his rifle with prodigious effect, and now, when English and Russian soldiers became so jammed together that none could make use of his weapons, the huge Colour Serjeant was still fiercely driving a rank through part of the closely compressed crowd; doing this more or less by the power of his mighty shoulders and arms, but also by the dint of the blows he rained on right and left with his fists, and those which he maintained with his feet against the enemy’s ankles and shins.’
Charles Walker was born at St Mary’s Gate, Derby, and enlisted at Trowbridge on 20 June 1840, aged 20 years, a skinner by profession. He served for over 21 years, including service in July 1841 at the walled town of Ching-Kiang, in China. In 1844, he was promoted to Corporal but six months later was reduced to the ranks for leaving the barracks without permission. In 1846, the regiment was stationed in Ireland during the time of the potato famine and, in 1849, was posted to Gibraltar, where Walker was again promoted to Corporal. In the Crimea the regiment was part of the 2nd Division, serving under General De Lacy Evans, where it fought at the Alma river, at Inkermann and before Sebastopol, including the attack on the Quarries in June 1855, and the final attack on the Redan. It was at Inkermann, when 30 men of the 55th, led by Major Daubenay, attacked a whole Russian Battalion, that Sergeant Walker distinguished himself and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Walker was promoted to Colour-Sergeant in November 1855, and continued in that rank until his discharge on 15 August 1861. He was appointed a Yeoman of the Guard in 1864, and in 1881, aged 59, was employed at the Royal Army Clothing Depot, and living with his wife and family at St George’s, Hanover Square. He died at Clapham on 15 May 1886, and is the only Yeoman of the Guard known to be entitled to the China Medal for 1842.
A contemporary black and white woodcut by Stanley L. Wood of ‘Sgt Walker leading the 55th’ at the Battle of Inkermann, was published in British Battles on Land and Sea. A hand-coloured version was used by Pen & Sword Books for the cover of their book, The Crimean War, first published in 1971, and reprinted by Leo Cooper in 1993 and again in 2006.
Sold with copied discharge papers and other research.