Military medal group from the 'Forgotten War' brings £66,000 in London

Whilst the Distinguished Service Medal group of Acting Petty Officer R McClarnan may have been a highlight in the first half of Dix Noonan Webb's medal auction last week, the most significant awards were held back under the later stages of the sale.

These included the Boer War Distinguished Conduct Medal group of five awarded to Warrant Officer 2nd Class C R Roberts, regarded by Winston Churchill as the man who saved his life, and for whom he had "very great admiration for [his] coolness and courage".

The Distinguished Conduct Medal of Winston Churchill's saviour
Roberts's Distinguished Conduct, Queen's South Africa, King's South Africa,
British War and Victory Medals
(Click to enlarge)

Roberts' medals were listed at £30,000-40,000, and sold near the top of that range for £38,400 (inclusive of Buyer's Premium).

Collectors interested in Churchillian memorabilia may wish to know that signed photos and even an annotated typescript of his answers to Parliamentary questions are currently available.

Other exceptionally fine lots in the auction included unique Great War air operations MC (Military Cross), DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal), Iraq 1924 DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) group of seven awarded to a namesake of the other warrior: Flight Lieutenant E P Roberts.

Roberts' efforts which won him the MC were described in the London Gazette of 1917 as follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry in action, he three times dispersed an enemy working party with bombs and machine-gun fire from a height of 1,000 feet.

"On another occasion, he shot down an enemy machine. He has shown great determination on many occasions in taking photographs under the most difficult and trying conditions."

The group was expected to bring £20,000-25,000, but enthusiastic bidders pressed it up to £28,800.

However, the top lot in the auction was a Military Medal group belonging to J A W Robson, who fought in the Korean War - sometimes known as the Forgotten War.

Robson "...allowed the enemy to approach within ten yards of his position before opening fire and all the enemy were killed as a result, the last within a few feet of his personal position" at Imjin River.

The actions of his battalion in holding off a Chinese attack were claimed by superior officers to have "saved the United Nations forces in Korea from a major disaster". He was then captured and held until 1953. On release he was interviewed by Eamonn Andrews on television.

The collection of medals, which was accompanied by a significant archive of related military documents defeated its £40000-£50000 estimate to sell for £66,000.


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