War medals from Afghanistan go under the hammer at Dix Noonan Webb

Dix Noonan Webb's medals auction which runs from Wednesday to Thursday (July 7-8) this week is clearly led by the Boer War Distinguished Conduct Medal group of five awarded to Warrant Officer 2nd Class C R Roberts.

Roberts saved future WWII Prime Minister Winston Churchill's life, with actions that many thought merited the Victoria Cross.

However, Roberts' medals are not the only exceptional medals on offer. Dix Noonan Webb always bring together medals auctions with depth, and this is no exception.

Two particularly interesting medals with modern resonance are two Second Afghan War medals awarded to British soldiers for service during 1878-80. Both men were members of the 72nd Highlanders, and both sadly met their deaths in the conflict.

The first of these was Colour-Sergeant John Yule. Mentioned in despatches by Lord Roberts for being 'first man up' in the assault on the Takht-i-Shah, he captured two enemy standards in a daring attack, but was killed the very next day at Conical Hill.

Again leading a charge, he killed the first enemy soldier, but was then killed by a gunshot.

Captain Spens Afghan War Medal

The second medal belonged to Captain Nathaniel Spens, also at Conical Hill. He and a few others attempted to stem the attack of the enemy, but were too few in number to deal with a determined enemy.

Spens drove his sword into a soldier, but was instantly killed when the man in his death throes struck him in the neck with a knife wielded with great force.

Both medals are classed as brilliant, extremely fine, though that belonging to Yule has a hairline scratch on its obverse and is listed at £6,000-8,000 whilst Spens's is expected to bring £8,000-10,000.


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