Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 17th March 2021

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

A Great War D.S.O., M.C. group of four awarded to Major R. H. Gregg, 22nd (Kensington) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, who won his M.C. for gallantry in an action at Vimy Ridge in May 1916, and was afterwards severely wounded when leading his company in an attack during the battle of Arleux in April 1917, his leg being amputated in consequence

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top ribbon bar; Military Cross, G.V.R.; British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Major R. H. Gregg) mounted court-style for display, good very fine (4) £2,000-£2,600

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A Great War D.S.O., M.C. group of four awarded to Major R. H. Gregg, 22nd (Kensington) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, who won his M.C. for gallantry in an action at Vimy Ridge in May 1916, and was afterwards severely wounded when leading his company in an attack during the battle of Arleux in April 1917, his leg being amputated in consequence

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top ribbon bar; Military Cross, G.V.R.; British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Major R. H. Gregg) mounted court-style for display, good very fine (4) £2,000-£2,600
D.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1918.

M.C. London Gazette 27 July 1916: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and initiative. His senior officer being wounded in the attack, Second Lieutenant Gregg took command of the company and on reaching the captured trench at once consolidated his position. Then, finding his flanks were unsupported, he showed remarkable ability in the withdrawal of his company.’

Richard Hugo Gregg joined the 23rd (Sportsman’s) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, on its formation in 1914. He was commissioned on 24 August 1915 but, because there was a surplus of subalterns in the battalion when the 23rd went to France in November 1915, Gregg and thirteen other subalterns were sent to the 30th (Reserve Training) Battalion. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 16 December 1915, and transferred to the 22nd (Kensington) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and joined it in France on 6 May 1916, as part of the 99th Brigade, 2nd Division.

On 22 May 1916, the division was sent from reserve to the Souchez-Angres area, to support the 47th Division which was under attack. Almost immediately, the 22nd Battalion was ordered to mount an attack at 1.30 p.m., to recover ground lost by the 47th Division on Vimy Ridge. The attack was to be carried out in conjunction with the 1/Royal Berks, on the right, and the 20th London Regiment on the left. The attack was postponed until 8.30 p.m., but, when a heavy German bombardment prevented the 1/Royal Berks from forming up, the attack was cancelled. “B” Company of the 22nd Battalion, however, did not receive the message and went into the attack alone.

Despite heavy casualties “B” Company pressed home the attack. When the Company Commander was hit, Lieutenant Gregg took over command and captured the trench and consolidated the position. But, after holding the position for about an hour and a half, the Battalion M.O., who was looking for casualties, came across them and told Lieutenant Gregg that the attack had been cancelled and that he was unsupported. Lieutenant Gregg therefore led the company back to the British lines.

Lieutenant Gregg was awarded the M.C. for this action. The casualties suffered by “B” Company were one officer died of wounds and two others wounded. Seven other ranks were killed and 78 wounded.

Battle of Arleux, 28-29 April 1917 (Battles of Arras)

The attack by the battalion was set for 4 a.m. on the 29th April. As it could only muster 240 men, “B” and “C” Companies were amalgamated to form a composite company, under the command of Major Gregg. “A” and “D” Companies were formed into another composite company. Each had a strength of about a hundred. The battalion had been in the trenches for about three days prior to the attack and they were very tired when they arrived at the rear at 4 a.m. on the 28th April.

They marched from the starting point at 9 p.m. and reached their battle position at 2 a.m. the next day. Because of a mix-up, the men had only emergency rations and water. To add to these problems, it was known that the British shelling had only partially cut the German wire in front of Captain Smith’s company. The wire facing Major Gregg was still intact.

Nevertheless, the two companies attacked at Zero hour. Gregg’s company managed to struggle through the first row of wire, but the second row was impassable. The barrage was lifted while the men were still trying to find a way through. This enabled the Germans to man their guns and most of the casualties occurred here. All the officers, except one, and most of the men were hit. Major Gregg was wounded in the leg and it had to be amputated.

A few managed to to reach the German trenches but they were too few to achieve permanent success. When the men were withdrawn, only a hundred could be mustered to form one composite battalion, under the command of a lieutenant.

Major Gregg died on 18 May 1929, at the age of fifty. In his last years he lived on a meagre pension which barely kept him from starvation.