BSACM reverse undated (1) Mashonaland 1890 (Tpr. Baker, W. H. V. - Pioneers.);
QSA (5) Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal (Lt. W. V. Baker, F.I.D.);
KSA (2) (Lieut: W. V. Baker. F.I.D.);
British War and Victory Medals (Capt. W. V. H. Baker. A.I.F.)
Walter Headland Valentine Baker was born on 15 February 1862 at Oamaru, Waitaki, Otago, New Zealand. He served in the Mashonaland 1890 campaign in the Pioneers and was mentioned in the diary of Captain 'Skipper' Hoste:
'On July 23rd we had a capsize. I was doing rear guard with my troop, when Major Johnson rode up and told me to scrape up all the old sailors that I could find, as the wagon that carried the engine and boiler belonging to the electric searchlight had capsized crossing a donga. I accordingly left Beal in charge of the troops and, taking my brother Derick and a man called Valentine Baker, both old sailors, I went on to 'C' Troop where I borrowed the machine guns' crews, who were all sailors. We then went on to the wagon which we found with its wheels uppermost. We then turned to and cut down three large straight trees-fortunately there were plenty close by-and rigged up some sheer-legs. In a short time we had the wagon the right side up again, and found that the only damage done was a slight crack in the smokestack, which had been unshipped and lashed alongside the boiler. That was about the only serious capsize we had during the whole trip, though Sandy Tulloch and his Gardner gun used to capsize in about five sluits out of every ten. His idea was to rush them. In theory the idea was probably good, but in practice it generally ended in a capsize.'
Baker latterly served in the Boer War, earning his 'Relief of Ladysmith' clasp as a Trooper with Murray's Horse. The Queen's South Africa Medal Roll was signed off by the Field Intelligence Department, with whom he was commissioned to serve with. His entry on the King's South Africa Medal Roll shows later service with the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles.
Upon the outbreak of the Great War, Baker volunteered for service in 1915 with Australian Forces. He slashed six years off his age - stating he was a sprightly 47 - and was initially posted with 'F' Company, 4th Infantry Battalion with the Tropical Force stationed at Rabaul from November 1915 (no entitlement to 1914-15 Star for this Theatre). Taken sick, he was invalided in February 1916, but recovered and was posted to the 34th Infantry for service in France. Having served as a Captain from 1 August 1916, he was again sick with influenza and pleurisy at Armentieres in October 1916. Baker was permanently discharged in November 1917, the board commenting that whilst his stated age was 48 he 'appears much older'.
He took discharge in England, his address shown as the Devonshire Club. By 1922 A.M.F. Base Records state his last known address in 1922 as W&T Avery Ltd. of the Soho Factory, Birmingham, England in response to a request from Bon Marche of Perth from 1919 who had supplied his uniform & 'other items' on the eve of his departure but had 'failed to call in and settle his account'. He is understood to have settled in Selly Oak and died in the early 1930s.
His wife, some 24 years his junior, returned to Australia and died at Scarborough, Queensland in September 1975. Their only son, Barrie Baker, was killed in the Battle of Britain. Having seen action in the Fall of France with No. 264 Squadron, he was based at Hornchurch by August 1940. On 26 August Baker was flying with Flight Lieutenant A. J. Banham in Defiant L6985. Having just destroyed a Do17 over Thanet when they were attacked and shot down by Me109's off Herne Bay. Banham baled out but Baker was never found.
Sold for a hammer price of £3,200. Totals (inc VAT on the commission for the UK only): £3,968. R77,200. Au$6,950. Can$6,640. US$5,300
An elementary error on Spink's part - Baker served with Murray's Scouts - a far more desirable unit. Service with Murray's Horse, who were only in the field for 3 weeks, earned one the Natal clasp only.
KCVO n/b and b/s ‘K543’;
Knight Bachelor’s Badge, 2nd type breast badge, silver-gilt and enamel, hallmarks for London 1973, enamel damaged and gilding worn;
The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Commander’s neck badge, silver and enamel, in fitted case of issue;
BSACM Rhodesia 1896 (0) (Lieut. C. B. Levita, R.A.);
QSA (3) Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith (Major C. B. Levita, M.V.O., R.F.A.);
Jubilee 1897, silver (Lieut. C. B. Levita, R.H.A.);
France, Third Republic, Legion of Honour, Commander’s neck badge.
Cecil Bingham Levita was born on 18 January 1867 and was educated at R.M.A. Woolwich. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1886 and was promoted to Captain in 1897 and Major in 1902. Served in the Matabele War in 1896 (Medal). Served as A.D.C. to Lieutenant-General Sir Baker Russell, 1899-1900 and was special service officer, South African War and D.A.A.G., 5th Division, Natal Field Force. Took part in the relief of Ladysmith, including action at Colenso; the operations of 17th to 24th January 1900, and engagement at Spion Kop; of 5th to 7th February 1900, and action at Vaal Krantz; on Tugela Heights, and action at Pieter’s Hill (mentioned in despatches, Medal with three Clasps).
Levita commanded “N” Battery, R.H.A. at the funeral of H.M. Queen Victoria for which he was awarded the M.V.O. 4th Class on 19 March 1901. In the Reserve of Officers, 1909-14. Recalled to service as a General Staff Officer 1st Grade in 1914. Awarded the C.B.E. (Military) in 1919. After the war he served as a member of the London County Council for North Kensington, 1911-37 and was Chairman of the L.C.C., 1928-29. At the end of his term of office he was Knighted for his public and political services. He was Deputy Lieutenant for the County of London and was Justice of the Peace, 1920-50. Appointed a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 1929, and Commander of the Order of St. John in 1930. As originator of the King George Hospital, Ilford, he was awarded the K.C.V.O. on 1 January 1932. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham Levita died on 10 October 1953.
BSACM Rhodesia 1896 (1) Mashonaland 1897 clasp (4004 Pte G. Davis. 2/Hamps. Regt.);
QSA (6) Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Wittebergen (4004 Pte G. Davis, 2nd Hampshire Regt);
KSA (2) (4004 Pte G. Davis. Hampshire Regt).
M&E say 'Just 25 medals were issued to the Hampshire Regiment with the Rhodesia 1896 reverse, according to Forsyth’s BSAC Medal Roll, which includes the medal to Private G. Davis - who served in the Mounted Infantry Battalion. He is also confirmed on the QSA and KSA rolls with entitlement as above.'