A Fine Collection of Medals to the South Wales Borderers

Date of Auction: 17th September 2020

Sold for £2,600

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,600

A 1946 ‘Military Division’ O.B.E., Great War ‘Western Front’ M.C. group of eight awarded to Colonel C. A. Baker, 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers, one of the original officers of the Battalion who landed in France in August 1914, and the only one of the original officers to return home in June 1919 after serving with the Army of the Rhine. Of the 25 officers who had gone overseas with the 1st Battalion in 1914 11 were killed during the conflict. Baker later served as Colonel Commandant of the Monmouth Army Cadet Force, and was Deputy Lieutenant for Monmouthshire, 1943-47. He also represented the Army at Rugby, and captained the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers rugby team to four consecutive Army Cup wins, 1924-1928

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 2nd type, breast badge, silver-gilt; Military Cross, G.V.R.; 1914 Star, with clasp (2. Lieut. C. A. Baker. S. Wales Bord.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaves (Capt. C. A. Baker.); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Royal Observer Corps Medal, E.II.R., 2nd issue (Observer Lieutenant C. A. Baker.) generally very fine (8) £1,200-£1,600

Footnote

O.B.E. London Gazette 1 January 1947 (Army Cadet Force).

M.C. London Gazette 1 January 1918.

M.I.D. London Gazette 22 May 1917.

Cecil Avery Baker was born in 1894, and educated at Clifton College and RMC Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the South Wales Borderers in September 1913, and represented the Army at Rugby in that year. Baker went on to represent the Army again, 1924-25, as well as Devon in the same season. He was part of the England Reserve in 1925, having captained the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers rugby team to four consecutive Army Cup wins, 1924-1928. Baker also played for the North Midlands.

Baker served during the Great War with the 1st Battalion in the French theatre of war from 13 August 1914 - and as such was one of the original officers to serve overseas with the Battalion during the Great War. He was invalided sick, 6 October 1914, rejoining the Battalion on the Western Front, 20 March 1915. Baker advanced to Lieutenant in November 1914, and to Captain in March 1916. He served as Adjutant for the Battalion May 1917 - May 1920, apart from during a brief period when he contracted a fever whilst in the trenches at Cambrin in June 1918:

‘Shortly before the battalion returned to the trenches several cases of an ill-defined feverish nature had shown themselves, Captain Baker, the Adjutant, being amongst the earliest victims; this soon attained to the dimensions of an epidemic, which received the nickname of “creeping barrage.” Three officers in quick succession took over the Adjutant’s duties and went down sick; and, despite all the M.O.’s efforts to check the epidemic, cases proved so numerous that after an inter-company relief one of the relieved companies had to be retained in support to keep the trench garrison up to its proper strength. Fortunately the epidemic abated after about ten days, though many of its victims were away from duty for some time: Captain Baker, for example, only rejoined on July 15th.’ (The Regimental History refers)

Baker stayed on with the 1st Battalion after the Armistice as part of the Army of the Rhine:

‘The 1st S.W.B. were not among the earliest Regular units to be reduced to cadre on relief by Young Soldiers battalions or other units available for duty with the Armies of Occupation. June came before its cadre found itself on the homeward road... the cadre consisted of five officers, Colonel Taylor, Captains Baker, Shipley and Ainsworth, and Lieutenant Cobb, with Regimental Sergeant Major Shirely and 39 N.C.O.’s and men. Of these Captain Baker, Regimental Sergeant Major Shirely, Company Sergeant Major Saunders and Sergeants Gibb and Ravenhill were the only representatives of the original 1st Battalion that had landed in France in August, 1914.... Of the 25 officers who had gone overseas with the 1st Battalion in 1914 11 had been killed.’ (Ibid)

Baker served as Adjutant for the 3rd (Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire) Battalion, December 1928 - December 1932, and advanced to Major in December 1933. He transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers in January 1934, and was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, Officer Commanding, 4th Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment (Territorial Army) in May 1939. He relinquished his commission due to ill-health in March 1940, and served as Zone Commander in the Home Guard. Baker then served as a Home Guard Advisor for Monmouth, 1940-45, and as Colonel Commandant of the Monmouth Army Cadet Force, 1943-46. He served on the Monmouth County Council, 1944-46, and as Deputy Lieutenant for Monmouthshire, 1943-47. Colonel Baker died in December 1974.

Sold with named group photograph of the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers Rugby Team in 1926, and copied research.