A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Lincolnshire Regiment
Date of Auction: 17th July 2019
Sold for £950
Estimate: £700 - £900
Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (9352 Sjt: C. Chance. 1/Lincs: R.); 1914 Star, with clasp (9352 Pte C. Chance. 1/Linc: R.); British War and Victory Medals (9352 Sjt. C. Chance. Linc. R.) generally very fine or better (4) £700-£900
FootnoteD.C.M. London Gazette 18 July 1917:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Although wounded, on reaching the enemy wire, he persisted in his efforts to force a way through, and set a splendid example until wounded badly a second time.’
Charles Edwin Chance was born on the Old Kent Road, London, in 1894, the son of Charles Chance, a cabman. He worked briefly as a gardener before attesting for the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment in 1912. After the outbreak of the Great War, he disembarked in France on 13 August 1914 and was wounded in the early weeks of the war being included in the Expeditionary Force casualty list sent on 29 September 1914 and published in the Hull Daily Mail on 9 November 1914.
Sergeant Chance distinguished himself on 11 April 1917 when he was also severely wounded during the 1st Lincolnshire’s gallant but costly advance during the First Battle of the Scarpe. Two days later he entrained at Warlincourt on No. 31 Ambulance Train with gun-shot wounds to his right arm and right hand and multiple gun-shot wounds to both legs. The Regimental History gives the following account of the attack on the enemy’s trenches from a point about half way between the Cojeul and Sensee rivers to the Henin-Heninel road:
‘Zero hour was to be at 6am, the artillery barrage to commence at 5:38 a.m.
The Lincolnshire and Yorks completed the relief of the 64th Brigade by 1:00 a.m. and sent out patrols to examine the enemy’s wire. Few points were found at which entry could be made, and the intervening wire was so thick that it was impossible to see through it. The enemy was alert and active.
No easy task lay before the attacking troops. The frontage was about one thousand two hundred yards, necessitated by the few gaps in the enemy’s wire. At zero on the 11th the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire advanced in excellent order, and with great steadiness, following the barrage right up to the enemy’s wire. In daylight it looked even more formidable than it did in darkness.
The Lincolnshire found three lanes, but the Yorkshire could only find one, and another with wire partly cut. Each lane was, however, commanded by German machine-guns, fired from concrete emplacements of cunning design. They were almost embedded in the earth, with narrow slits but a few inches from the ground, through which the German gunners poured a stream of bullets on the attackers. On the flanks, and in the narrow trenches situated in the densest part of the wire the enemy’s snipers were also active.
At first the advance met with very little rifle-fire but as soon as the leading waves of the attack reached the entanglements, and the lanes through which they attempted to pass, the German machine-guns poured a murderous cross-fire into the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Great, but useless, bravery was shown by these battalions in their attempt to get through. Many men not able to find a lane, forced their way beneath the wire, only to be shot down as they emerged on the opposite side. The two left companies of the Lincolnshire lost all their officers and the right company could not find an entrance. In spite of the heavy fire both battalions clung to their positions with splendid tenacity, in and outside of the wire (in one instance in the sunken road on the enemy’s side of the wire) until ordered by the Brigade Commander to withdraw, to enable the guns to re-bombard the wire. At dusk all units occupied their original positions. After dark the 12th Northumberland relieved the Lincolnshire, and the 13th the Yorkshire. The relief was completed by 9:30 p.m. It was snowing hard, and there was to be another attack the next day.’ (The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918 by Major-General C. R. Simpson, C.B. refers.)
Sergeant Chance was discharged from the army due to wounds on 18 June 1918 and awarded the Silver War Badge. He died in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1956.
The recipient’s younger brother, 9609 Private John William Chance, enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment in 1913 and was awarded the D.C.M. in 1914, ‘for conspicuous gallantry at Wychaete on 1st November in taking a message from firing line under a heavy fire and delivering it, though wounded on the way’ (London Gazette 17 December 1914).