Indian Historical Medals from the Collection formed by Michael Shaw

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Date of Auction: 27th February 2020

Sold for £70

Estimate: £150 - £200

General subjects, Medals awarded to a pioneer aviator who later became the Governor of Bombay, and his son:

H.M.’s Mint, Bombay, bronze medals (2, one plated), unsigned [Bombay mint], elevation of Mint building, revs. a memento of your visit within wreath, named (plated: His Excellency Sir Frederick Sykes, P.C., G.C.I.E., G.B.E., K.C.B., C.M.G., 12-4-33; bronze: Bonar Sykes 21-2-50), both 39mm (Pudd. II, 990.1; cf. DNW 136, 1583) [2]. Very fine, second better £150-£200


Air Vice-Marshal Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, GCSI, GCIE, GBE, KCB, CMG (1877-1954); b. Addiscombe, Surrey; worked on a tea plantation in Ceylon; trooper, Imperial Yeomanry Scouts, 1899; captured by Boers and endured a forced march before freedom; commissioned into Lord Roberts’ personal bodyguard but suffered a serious chest wound and invalided back to England; 2nd Lt, 15th Hussars, October 1901, posted to West African Regt, later attached to the Balloon Section of the RE; joined Intelligence Staff at Simla, 1905; Staff College, Quetta, October 1908, and promoted to Captain; learnt to fly at Brooklands in 1910 and awarded Royal Aero Club certificate no.96; Officer Commanding the military wing of the RFC, May 1912, later Commandant; approved the phrase Per Ardua ad Astra, adopted by the RAF as its motto; Chief of Staff of the RFC, 5 August 1914, and temporarily commander, November-December 1914; Officer Commanding the RNAS Eastern Mediterranean July 1915 and air commander for the Dardanelles campaign; Assistant Adjutant-General at the War Office, June 1916, later Deputy Adjutant and QMG; Chief of Air Staff, April 1918; Air Vice Marshal August 1919 and controller of civil aviation 1919-22; Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam 1922-8; Governor of Bombay October 1928-November 1933, then returned to Britain; MP for Nottingham Central 1940-5; lived at Conock Manor, Devizes, and latterly in Marylebone, London. Although Sykes enjoyed a distinguished career in the early days of British military aviation, his character did not appeal to either Lord Kitchener or Winston Churchill and he was temporarily demoted, in 1914 and 1919, on the orders of both men. Sykes married Isabel Law (1895-1969), elder daughter of the prime minister Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923), in 1920.

Bonar Hugh Charles Sykes (1922-98), son of Sir Frederick Sykes and grandson of Andrew Bonar Law; served in the Royal Navy in World War II and present at the D-Day landings; diplomat, served at the British embassies in Iran, 1964-5 and Canada, 1966-8; head of planning staff at the Foreign Office, 1968-9; High Sherriff of Wiltshire. Sold with further background information