A Fine Collection of Medals to the South Wales Borderers

Date of Auction: 17th September 2020

Sold for £800

Estimate: £600 - £700

A Great War 1916 ‘Somme - trench raid’ D.C.M. awarded to Private J. Fitzpatrick, 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers, for his gallantry in leading a bayonet attack on the Intermediate Trench North-East of Bazentin-le-Petit, 25 August 1916. He was killed in action on the Western Front, 18 April 1918

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (1-13027 Pte J. Fitzpatrick. 1/S.W. Bord:) suspension claw loose, nearly very fine
£600-£700

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 14 November 1916:

‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. Private Fitzpatrick and another man volunteered to lead a bayonet attack. On reaching a block of wire and buried bayonets, forming a kind of chevaux de frise, they climbed the parapet and removed the obstacles. They led the attack with great bravery and dash, and utter contempt of danger.’

John Fitzpatrick was born in Wolverhampton. He served during the Great War with the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers in the French theatre of war from 11 April 1915. Fitzpatrick served with the Battalion as part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division on the Somme, July - November 1916. The Battalion moved to Bazentin-le-Petit on 20 August, and Fitzpatrick distinguished himself during an attack on the Intermediate Trench North-East of Bazentin-le-Petit five days later. An unsuccessful attempt to capture the trench had been made by the Royal Munster Fusiliers on 24 August:

‘Next afternoon (August 25th), however, A Company, now under Captain Inglis, renewed their attack, this time successfully. A heavy barrage had been put down at intervals with the object of driving the enemy back from the barricade and so clearing the Eastern half of the trench, and at 6.30pm A Company pushed past the barrier and advanced nearly 300 yards, bombing the Germans back. Serious opposition was offered at a strong point, containing a machine gun which had been largely responsible for the non-success of the earlier attacks. It was captured, however, several prisoners being taken... The attackers then pushed on, Privates Fitzpatrick and Murphy leading the way with the bayonet. Coming to a block of wire mixed up with bayonets which formed a chevaux de frise they climbed up on to the parapet and removed the obstacle, thus enabling the attack to get forward. C Company had simultaneously attempted to advance across the open against the Western portion of the trench, but this effort failed. A Company, however, captured another 80 yards and consolidated their gains, a trench being dug back from the Westernmost point reached to the old front line.’ (Regimental History refers)

Private Fitzpatrick was killed in action on the Western Front, 18 April 1918, and is buried in Brown’s Road Military Cemetery, Festubert, Pas de Calais, France.