A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Lincolnshire Regiment
Date of Auction: 17th July 2019
Sold for £1,100
Estimate: £700 - £900
Military Medal, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar (240375 Sjt: A. A. Mann. 1/5 Linc: R); 1914-15 Star (2191 Pte. A. A. Mann. Linc: R.); British war and Victory Medals (2191 A. W. O. Cl. 2. A. A. Mann. Linc. R.); together with a Great War commemorative medallion, very fine (4) £700-£900
FootnoteM.M. London Gazette 18 June 1917.
The Recommendation states: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the morning of 23rd April 1917 at Cite St. Pierre, Lens when the platoon found their trench blocked. Shortly beyond, they came under heavy fire and Sergeant Mann arranged cover fire. His prompt actions and skilful leadership was rewarded with the whole platoon returning without casualty.’
M.M. Second Award Bar London Gazette 16 August 1917.
The Recommendation states: ‘On 19th June 1917 when the platoon captured enemy trenches south west of Lens, Sergeant Mann found the platoon to his left had lost its commander and next senior sergeant and took command, posting sentries and showing enemy positions to the men, remaining on duty for twenty hours, and twice succeeding in organising heavy fire on the enemies attacks.’
Alfred Archer Mann was born in Cottesmore, Rutland, in 1892, an ironstone quarry worker by occupation. He enlisted in the 1/5th Lincolnshire Regiment on 1 September 1914, and arrived in France with his battalion on 1 March 1915. He would have been present at the battalion’s gallant but costly assault on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13 October 1915.
The Battalion Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel T. E. Sandall wrote the History of the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in 1922, and describes the actions which led to the award of Mann’s M.M. in 1917:
‘In the early morning of April 23rd, in order to support an attack by the 139th Brigade on Hill 65 on our right, the Battalion was ordered to push forward strong patrols towards Cité St. Elizabeth, and three patrols, each consisting of a bombing section supported by the remainder of the platoon, went forward at 4.45 a.m. but were all met by heavy rifle and machine gun fire from houses in front, and compelled to retire. One patrol under Corporal J. Major when 50 yards from our line was heavily fired on from a flank, and was compelled to take refuge in a house; one man was severely wounded while in the open and Private W. H. Bateman was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery in going out under heavy rifle and machine gun fire and carrying him for 35 yards into safety. They were unable to return to our lines till dark, when Corporal Major succeeded in retiring without further casualties. Private H. Cockayne, one of this patrol, also won the Military Medal for gallantry, volunteering to carry a message to our lines during the day, which involved crossing two roads which were swept by machine gun fire; he succeeded in doing so, and moreover returned to his patrol with an answer.
Sergeant A. A. Mann, who was in command of a platoon supporting another patrol, also exhibited great personal courage, skill and initiative by arranging covering fire for the withdrawal of the patrol, and succeeded by skilful leadership and keeping firm control of his command in getting the whole back to our line without casualty, and was also awarded the Military Medal.’
Sandall also describes the circumstances of the award of the Second Award Bar to Mann’s M.M., also in 1917:
‘During the morning of the 19th when the companies were fitted out for attack, Battalion Headquarters were moved to Cité Garenne, and companies detailed as follows: Assaulting companies, A and B; wiring company C; carrying company D; the strength being: A Company 2 officers, 89 other ranks; B Company 2 officers, 75 other ranks; C Company 1 officer 80 other ranks. Owing to the shortage of officers, none could be left behind. The two assaulting companies were in position by 2 p.m., C Company in assembly trenches near the left of the assaulting companies, while D Company remained in cellars until wanted. Zero hour was 2.30 p.m. and the barrage opened, and the assaulting companies advanced in two waves punctually. At Zero plus 6 minutes the enemy put down a barrage on our assembly trenches, especially on the left, but this did not interfere with our advance. The right Company got into the trenches without difficulty or casualties, many of the enemy were killed and some 30 taken prisoners, others being driven towards the Canadians on our right, who took 18 prisoners, who belonged to the 118th Regiment. The left Company was met by machine gun fire down the road and considerable resistance by rifle fire and bombing, causing a number of casualties, and was temporarily checked, but again advanced, drove the Germans from the trenches with rifle-grenade and rifle fire, and gained their objective. Lieut. M. Robinson, and Lieut. C. R. Madden, the officers of the right Company, led their commands most skilfully, organised the defence and consolidation of the captured position in a most able manner, showing great personal courage, and a fine example, and both won the Military Cross. Lieut. J. S. Nichols, the Company Commander of the left Company, was dangerously wounded when they were checked, and C.S.M. H. Brown, on whom the responsibility of leading the Company fell, exhibited great resource, reorganised the attack, personally led it forward very gallantly, and gained his objective, and immediately organised the consolidation and defence, whereby several counterattacks were repulsed; the Military Cross was subsequently granted to this very gallant Warrant Officer, who unfortunately fell in action on 1st July. Many of the N.C.O.'s and men exhibited conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, Sergeants A. A. Mann and T. W. Huddleston led their platoons with much dash.’
An article in the Grantham Journal dated 19 May 1917 describes Mann’s award of the M.M. and includes the following quote from one of his letters: ‘Just to let you know I am quite well, after being in the trenches eighteen days. We had a fairly rough time, as I was in three rough houses, and very sorry to tell you I lost some of my best men…’. Later on 27 July 1917, also in the Grantham Journal, another article state: ‘very recently Sergeant Mann was badly gassed while leading his men.’
Mann was discharged on 7 July 1919 due to wounds and was awarded a Silver War Badge.
Sold together with two studio photographs of the recipient in uniform, on the reverse of one is handwritten ‘Florrie, from Alf. Dec 14th 1916. Taken in France. Love from Alf.’; a third photograph of the recipient in uniform with two other N.C.O.s of the regiment taken in France; and a menu from the Veterans Fifth Lincolnshire Regiment First Reunion Dinner, 13 October 1922, signed on the front by Lieutenant-Colonel H. G. Wilson, D.S.O.