A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Lincolnshire Regiment
Date of Auction: 17th July 2019
Sold for £600
Estimate: £500 - £700
Military Cross G.V.R., reverse privately engraved ‘2nd. Lieut. M Stuart Menteth. 2nd. Bn. (attached 8th.) Lincolnshire Regt. 31st. July 1917.’; British War Medal 1914-20 (Capt. M. Stuart-Menteth. R.A.F.) good very fine (2) £500-£700
FootnoteM.C. London Gazette 26 September 1917:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. After his platoon had captured their objective he moved about in the open under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire and accurate sniping, directing the consolidation with skill and precision. The work was barely completed when the enemy counter-attacked, whereupon he rallied the few remaining men of his platoon and successfully repulsed the enemy.’
Montagu Stuart-Menteth was born in Bedfordshire on 14 June 1893, the son of Sir James Frederick Stuart-Menteth, 4th Baronet and his second wife, Elizabeth Alyson, née Blackett. He was commissioned Temporary Second Lieutenant into the Motor Machine Gun Service on 20 January 1915. This unit, consisting of batteries of motorcycle/sidecar combinations carrying Vickers machine guns was incorporated into the Machine Gun Corps in October 1915. He transferred with the same rank to the Lincolnshire Regiment on 18 December 1915.
On 23 October 1916, towards the end of the Somme battles, following three days of heavy artillery bombardment, the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, attacked Zenith Trench, part of a salient in the German line to the east of Les Bouefs and Gueudecourt. The Regimental History vividly depicts the scale of the losses:
‘The first wave of Lincolnshire’s was shot down almost to a man, only one section on the extreme right, where the 2nd Middlesex had reached their objective, entered the German trench, which at that particular point was empty. This party bombed some little way down the trench and maintained its position during the night. The second wave, coming under violent machine-gun fire as well as the rapid rifle-fire already mentioned, also failed to reach Zenith Trench.
“By about 5pm,” reports the Brigadier, “the information available was to the effect that the 2nd Lincolnshire appeared to have been wiped out, that the Commanding Officer, Rifle Brigade, could find very few of his men – it (Zenith Trench) was also strongly held and had been reinforced over the open during the afternoon.”
The Lincolnshire were not quite wiped out, but had lost very heavily, and just after 5pm were ordered back to Rose Trench in Brigade Support…
The strength of the 2nd Lincolnshire on going into action was sixteen officers and four hundred and seventy other ranks; they came out of action having lost thirteen officers and two hundred and seventy-two other ranks.’ (The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918 by Major-General C. R. Simpson, C.B. refers.)
Almost inevitably, Stuart-Menteth was among the officer casualties that day and was admitted to Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital at Millbank on 28 October 1916 with a gun-shot wound to his left shoulder.
On 31 July 1917, Stuart-Menteth, now recovered and attached to the 8th (Service) Battalion, was recognised with the award of the M.C. for his gallantry during the ‘Attack at the Wambeke’. This successful assault on a line running through a series of German occupied farms to the River Wambeke resulted in the Divisional Commander congratulating the 63rd Brigade on their magnificent fight.
Stuart-Menteth’s service record shows he transferred as acting Captain to No. 4 Squadron R.A.F. on 17 April 1918 and remained with the R.A.F. until 12 August 1919 when he transferred to the unemployed list. He is listed as a Lieutenant on the British War and Victory medal roll for the R.F.C. although his British War Medal is impressed to Captain, R.A.F.