The Victoria Cross is the highest British and Commonwealth honour for valour in the face of the enemy, and naturally it is a dream for medal collectors and investors, (such as Michael Ashcroft) to own one, or more than one.
The award only dates back as far as the Crimean War, the first war which received genuinely in depth coverage in the press and of which the public therefore heard gripping accounts of the extraordinary bravery sometimes displayed by ordinary soldiers.
It was felt there was a need for these acts to be recognised. The VC was the first honour for particular actions which applied equally across all ranks and the earliest related to actions in the mid-1850s.
One of the earliest heads a large medal grouping on offer in Spink's upcoming Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria auction later this month:
This is the unique 'Defence of Kars' V.C., K.C.M.G., C.B., K.H. Group of Sixteen awarded to Lieutenant, Later Major-General, Sir C.C. Teesdale, Royal Artillery, who, "As one of just four British officers present, inspired by personal example and led the remnants of the shattered Turkish army to victory" against a Russian force comprising 22 battalions of infantry and a division of cavalry.
This took place in 29.9.1855, when he volunteered to take command of the most vulnerable positions, and 'During the Hottest Part of the Action', having rallied his men, 'led the final charge which completed the victory of the day'; having forced the Russians to revert to siege warfare.
Teesdale was finally taken prisoner of war when the city could hold out no longer, 28.11.1855; in later life He was equerry to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, and Master of Ceremonies to Queen Victoria.
The lot comprises:
The Victoria Cross
The Order of Knight's Companion to St. Michael and St. George
Order of the Bath, Military Division
The Royal Guelphic Order, Military Division
Jubilee 1887 medal
Five Turkish awards
Two Russian awards (dating from the 1860s)
An award each from France, Denmark, Greece and even Hawaii
A range of documents and a photograph of Teesdale.
In total, the lot is expected to bring £160,000-200,000 ($324,000) in Spink's auction which takes place on April 21 in London.
However, the VC on offer is not the very earliest awarded to a British soldier. That was awarded to John Knox and is also currently available elsewhere.
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