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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 11 months 1 week ago #76913

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DCM VR (Pte. J. Spick. Derbys. R.);
IGS 1895 (2) Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Tirah 1897-98 (3392 Pte. J. Spick. 2nd. Bn. Derby: Regt.) unofficial rivets between clasps as issued;
QSA (3) Cape Colony, Transvaal, South Africa 1902 (3392 Pte. J. Spick. Notts; & Derby: Regt.)

DCM submitted to the Queen, 9 July 1898, and announced under Army Order 135 of 1898.

John William Spick was born at Newark, Nottinghamshire, on 26 February 1873, and attested for service with the Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire Regiment) at Newark on 10 November 1891, having previously served in the 4th (Militia) Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment. Initially posted to the 1st Battalion, he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, on 30 January 1894, and served with them in India from that date until 24th October 1899. He was present at the action at the Dargai Heights, and was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous gallantry at the storming of the Chagru Kotal, on 20 October 1897, when, as the sole survivor of the storming party led by Captain Smith and Lieutenant Pennel, he continued to charge forward, alone and unsupported ‘across a heap of dead and wounded men into a perfect hail of bullets’, for a further 60 yards, until he fell severely wounded at the head of his regiment.

The recommendation for his Victoria Cross was made by Brigadier-General Hart, V.C., Royal Engineers, to the Assistant Adjutant-General, 1st Division, Tirah Expeditionary Force, on 7 December 1897:

‘Sir, I have the honour to request you will forward, for the favourable consideration of the General Officer Commanding Tirah Expeditionary Force, the attached documents which I have collected regarding the gallant conduct of the following soldiers at the storming of Dargai on 20 October 1897:
Captain W. E. G. Smith , 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (killed)
Lieutenant H. S. Pennell, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment
No. 579 Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severely wounded)
No. 4755 Private George John Dunn, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (killed)
No. 2732 Private Richard Ponberth, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (mortally wounded)
No. 1701 Private J. Anthony, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severely wounded)
No. 3392 Private J. Spick, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severely wounded)
On 20 October 1897, Captain W. E. G. Smith’s company of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment, was ordered to attack the heights at Dargai. The 1st Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles and 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment had already been unsuccessful in their attack, and were under cover blocking the way to the hundred yards of open space that had to be crossed.
Captain Smith ordered his company to charge, and started forward before his men could get through the companies in front of them. Lieutenant Pennell, Colour-Sergeant Keeling, Privates Spick, Dunn and Ponberth, forced their way through the men in front, and followed the gallant leading of their Captain who fell dead after he had gone about sixty yards. Immediately afterwards, Private Dunn was killed, Private Ponberth mortally wounded, Colour-Sergeant Keeling and Private Spick severely wounded, and Private Anthony was lying close by severely wounded.
There were officers, not engaged, who witnessed what happened, and describe the enemy’s fire as extremely heavy, but Lieutenant Pennell ran to the assistance of Captain Smith, and made two distinct attempts to carry and drag him back to cover, and only left his comrade when he found that he was apparently dead. Lieutenant Pennell then ran back to his company which was under cover. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, I consider it my duty to bring forward the conspicuous gallantry of Lieutenant H. S. Pennell, and of Private J. Spick, both of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment, as deserving of being recommended for the Victoria Cross; and, had he lived, Captain Smith’s gallant leading should not have passed unrewarded. It is also apparent that Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling, Privates Dunn, Ponberth and Anthony, are the names of very brave men deserving of the most honourable mention. I would therefore recommend the two survivors, Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling and Private J. Anthony, for the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field, in recognition of the gallant support they gave their officers in following them out of cover and across a heap of dead and wounded men into a perfect hail of bullets.
It may be that Privates Booth, Hunt and Wilson of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment are deserving of special mention, but I am unable to obtain sufficient evidence to justify me in recommending them for the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant’.

From the eye witness statements made in support of the claim, a broader picture emerges of Private Spick’s conspicuous gallantry, as follows:

Lieutenant Pennel stated, ‘Private Spick is the only man surviving of those who followed Captain Smith and myself in the attempt to charge the enemy’s position at Dargai on 20 October 1897. He was close up and going straight for the position when he was shot down and in sending in the names of the men reported on favourably for their behaviour on that occasion, I have mentioned this man specifically.’

Private Anthony recalled Spick having shouted over to Lieutenant Pennell to take cover, ‘as the fire was too hot and the bullets were dropping very thick all around him’.

Private Hunt also confirmed that his comrade, ‘followed the Captain first and was just behind him’.

From these accounts, it is apparent that Private Spick charged alongside Lieutenant Pennel, and in his interim report, dated 4 December 1897, Brigadier-General Hart concluded that the Medal for Distinguished Conduct would be insufficient recognition for his bravery, ‘It may be that his gallantry is being under-stated for want of information’.

A second submission was therefore made on behalf of Private Spick, by Lieutenant Pennell, on 5 December stating, ‘Private Spick and Sergeant Keeling went on until they were hit, but Sergeant Keeling was hit almost immediately he left cover and therefore did not gain the same chance of proving his willingness to advance as Private Spick, who had covered, I should think, about 60 yards straight towards the position before he was hit.’

This further endorsement of Private Spick’s dash and gallantry convinced Brigadier-General Hart that the Victoria Cross was a more appropriate award. Accordingly, on 19 January 1898, in a document submitted at Jamrud, Private Spick’s Victoria Cross recommendation was advanced one stage further, a statement of services and medical report also being included among the relevant documentation, confirming that he had been severely wounded by a bullet passing clean through one of his shoulder-blades. However, despite this further recommendation, it was only Lieutenant Pennell who received due recognition, the award of the Victoria Cross being announced in the LG dated the 20th May 1898.

Appointed Lance-Corporal on 26 September 1898, he served in Malta from 25 October 1899 to 28 February 1902, and, having been posted to the 3rd Battalion on 1 March 1902, in South Africa from 29 March until 2 September of that year. He was demobilised on 3 September 1902, and transferred to Section ‘B’ Army Reserve on 1 March 1903, finally being discharged on 9 November 1903, after 12 years’ service. He subsequently enlisted in Section ‘D’, 1st Class Army Reserve at Newark, on 27 November 1903, and was finally discharged on 26 November 1907, on termination of his period of engagement.

Sold for £7,500 in December 2016.
Dr David Biggins
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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 11 months 1 week ago #76914

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QSA (3) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, unofficial rivets between clasps, the OFS clasp a tailor’s copy (3985 Pte. A. Rice, Derby: Regt.);
King’s South Africa 1901-02, (1) South Africa 1902 (3985 Sergt. A. Rice. Notts; & Derby: Regt.);
1914-15 Star, naming erased;
BWM 1914-20 (Q.M. & Lieut. A. H. H. Rice.);
Victory Medal 1914-19, naming erased;
Army LS&GC GV 1st issue (3985 C. Sjt: A. H. H. Rice. Notts: & Derby: Regt.)
Dr David Biggins
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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 11 months 1 week ago #76915

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IGS 1895 (2) Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Tirah 1897-98 (3114 Corpl., 2d Bn. Derby Regt.);
QSA (4) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill (3114 Corl., Derby. Regt.);
King’s South Africa 1901-02, 2 clasps (3114 Pte., Notts. & Derby. Regt.)

Sold for £310 in September 2013.
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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 11 months 1 week ago #76916

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India General Service 1854-95, 1 clasp, Sikkim 1888 (956 Pte., 2nd Bn. Derby. R.); Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill (956 Pte., Derby. R.)

Sold by DNW in June 2013 for £410.
Dr David Biggins
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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 11 months 1 week ago #76917

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QSA (3) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Wittebergen (Capt. J. Humber, Derby. Regt.)

John Humber; appointed a Lieutenant in the 4th (Militia) Battalion Derbyshire Regiment on 24 July 1886 and promoted to Captain in May 1890.

Served in South Africa 1899-1900 with the 4th Volunteer Battalion. Was captured by the Boers at Roodeval on 7 June 1900 but later released.

Appointed an Honorary Major in December 1900, he retired in August 1901.

Sold by DNW in June 2013 for £270.
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Medals to the Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) 9 months 2 weeks ago #77757

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[ KCB ]
DSO GV, silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar;
QSA (3) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1901, unofficial rivets between state and date clasps (Capt. B. F. Burnett-Hitchcock, Derby: Regt.);
1914 Star, with clasp (Capt: B. Burnett-Hitchcock Notts: & Derby: R.);
BWM and VM (Brig. Gen. B. F. Burnett Hitchcock.);
France, Third Republic, Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge, silver, silver-gilt and enamel, chip to white enamel;
Italy, Kingdom, Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus, Officer’s breast badge, gold, silver-gilt, and enamel, slight enamel damage;
France, Third Republic, Croix de Guerre, bronze, reverse dated 1914-1918, with bronze palm

Provenance: Sotheby’s, July 1975 (when sold together with KCB Knight Commander’s badge and breast star).

KCB (Military) LG 3 June 1932.

CB (Military) LG 1 January 1918: ‘For services rendered in connection with the war’

DSO LG 9 December 1914: ‘On 26th August, at Haucourt, France, for gallantry in rallying troops in disorder and leading them against the enemy, thereby ensuring an orderly evacuation of the village.’

French Legion of Honour LG 3 November 1914: ‘For gallantry during the Operations between 21st and 30th August 1914’

Italian Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus LG 1 April 1919.

French Croix de Guerre LG 9 April 1920.

MID LGs 19 October 1914; 17 February 1915; 1 January 1916; 15 June 1916; 4 January 1917; 15 May 1917; 12 February 1918



Basil Ferguson Burnett-Hitchcock was born on 3 March 1877, at Chatham, son of the late Colonel T. Burnett-Hitchcock, of Week Manor, Winchester, Hants, and Amelia Burnett-Hitchcock. Educated at Harrow and Sandhurst (Sword of Honour, Anson Memorial Sword, 1st passing out), he made two first-class appearances for Hampshire in the 1896 Country Championship before being commissioned Second Lieutenant into the Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire Regiment) on 20 February 1897. Promoted Lieutenant on 12 April 1898, he served during the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1901, with the 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, Mounted Infantry, and on the Staff, taking part in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May, 1900; in Orange River Colony, May to 29 November 1900; also in Cape Colony 1899-1900; again during operations in Orange River Colony and Cape Colony 30 November 1900 to February 1901 (Queen’s Medal with three clasps). Advanced Captain 12 March, 1901, he attended Staff College, 1903-4 and was was Staff Captain, Eastern Command, 1905-9; General Staff Officer, 2nd Grade, Bermuda, 1910-12 and Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, 4th Division, Eastern Command in 1912.

On the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Burnett-Hitchcock, whilst still a Captain in the 2nd Sherwood Foresters, was Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General on the Staff of General T. D’O. Snow’s 4th Division. Although initially held back in England to counter any German landing, the division was soon despatched to France, arriving just in time to play a valuable part in the retreat from Mons.

At Le Havre, the 4th Division (10th, 11th and 12th Brigades with light artillery) entrained for Le Cateau from where, on 25th August, it marched to Solesmes to cover the retirement of II Corps after the Battle of Mons. Having arrived at Solesmes amid chaotic scenes of retreating British soldiers and long lines of civilian refugees, the wet and weary 4th Division fell back through the villages of Briastre and Le Coquelet before coming under the command of II Corps just as General Smith-Dorrien decided to make his stand in the rolling country around Le Caudry, to the west of Le Cateau - Smith Dorrien declaring, ‘"Very well, gentlemen, we will fight, and I will ask General Snow to act under me as well." Smith-Dorrien’s decision to fight this important delaying rearguard action may well have saved the British from destruction by the massive German onslaught during the general Allied retreat following sustained German successes at the four Battles of the Frontiers.

The location, a long ridge running west-east with Le Cateau at its eastern end, was far from ideal. The ground was soft, so easy for the troops to dig in, but it lacked cover, was dominated by a German-held ridge to the north and, worst of all, both flanks were open. The situation on the right flank, the hills around the Le Cateau valley, was perilous from the start, as the Germans infiltrated during the night. The west, held by 4th Division, was absolutely vulnerable to flanking movements designed to encircle II Corps. Snow now set up his Division HQ at the village of Haucourt with 12th Brigade further forward on the left near Esnes and Longsart and 11th Brigade forward to the right in front of Ligny. 10th Brigade remained in reserve around Haucourt.

Wilson's 12th Brigade was attacked in force early on 26 August and suffered heavy casualties, but managed to rally and held the extreme left of the British line until the BEF was able to retreat. The 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment suffered in particular. Surprised just as breakfast was being served, they came under heavy machine gun and artillery fire. The battalion was nearly destroyed as a fighting unit, the commanding officer and many others being killed, with many more wounded or taken prisoner of war.

Meanwhile, Hunter-Weston’s 11th Brigade spent most of the day desperately holding the position in front of Ligny while coming under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire. A feature of the fighting being the greater respect shown by the Germans for British rifle prowess than at Mons where they had suffered heavy casualties.

One unfortunate consequence of 4th Division’s rapid deployment to France was that it lacked a Signal Company (as well as cavalry, cyclists and Royal Engineers) to provide its commander and his brigadiers with the information necessary to control their units. Burnett-Hitchcock’s employment as a messenger for General Snow during the early part of the Battle is documented in a statement published by Lieutenant-Colonel A. E. Mainwaring, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 10th Infantry Brigade at Le Cateau (Mainwaring and Lieut. Col. Elkington, 1st Royal Warwickshires were notoriously cashiered out of the service for cowardice at St. Quentin just days after Le Cateau.): ‘During the first part of the action I received two messages from the divisional staff, both verbal, and sent the one already referred to above to the 10th Brigade, in which I described our positions. The first was delivered by the ADC to the G.O.C. IV Division. Captain Allfrey said to me, “The General says he wishes you to hold on here to the end.” Then, turning in his saddle, he added, “General Snow told me to say that this is a personal message from him to the regiment.” I answered that the General might rely on us to do what he said. Later on Captain Burnett-Hitchcock, of the same staff, said, “It’s only going to be a case of long bowls; no retirement.” Again I said there should be none.’

Soon the shelling of the British hastily prepared positions started and it was during these early stages of the fighting that Burnett-Hitchcock distinguished himself in rallying disordered groups of troops and leading them back towards the front line under shell-fire. General Snow recalls this episode in his memoirs: ‘I felt, however, I should like to see what was going on in the front line before the battle commenced. I snatched a cup of tea and an egg and ran out into the courtyard but found my car was not ready. Colonel Bowes had just driven up, and I jumped into his car and started off for Cattenieres. In getting out of the village we overshot the turning and found ourselves on the road to Esnes. As we were turning to retrace our steps the road we had intended to take was swept by a outburst of shrapnel, and at the same time I saw shells bursting all along the position, and soon afterwards a good many stragglers began coming back from the ridge. Haucourt village was also being shelled; so we left the car and walked across the field to a grove of trees, west of Haucourt. There we met Captain Allfrey, who told me that the rumour was that I had been killed and that General Milne had taken command. Gradually the staff rejoined me, and I was told that Captain Burnett-Hitchcock had done a very gallant act in rallying the stragglers whom I had noticed, and on horseback leading them back to the firing line.’ (The Confusion of Command, The War Memoirs of Lieutenant General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow, 1914-1915 edited by Dan Snow and Mark Pottle refers)

Despite all intentions, overwhelming German attacks during the early afternoon inevitably led to Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien’s decision to break off the action and resume his retreat. The line began to thin out around 5pm as units were ordered off the field - the 10th Brigade, still around Haucourt, being detailed as rear guard. 4th Division Headquarters, also at Haucourt, overseeing the withdrawal, had been shelled earlier with the the General’s ADC and several men being hit - sadly the 4th Division, having no Field Ambulance, had great difficulty in getting any of its wounded away; a first-aid post was established at Haucourt Church and the wounded were taken prisoner later that night. Division H.Q. was now also finding the transmission of orders extremely difficult as its units became disarranged. The 10th and the retreating 12th Brigades in particular had broken into smaller groupings some of which were intermixed. Half of the King's Own (12th Brigade), receiving no orders to retire, remained in position at Haucourt, covering the retirement of the artillery. As the German 13th Reserve Infantry Brigade infiltrated the village supported by extensive artillery fire, and street fighting continued into the evening, the King’s Own are known to have delivered several bayonet charges one of the most brilliant being led by Captain Clutterbuck, who, with a handful of men, routed four times their number. He paid for the price of his gallantry with his life.

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle in ‘The British Campaign In France And Flanders 1914’ presents his own picture of some of the remarkable events at Haucourt on 26 August as the bulk of the 4th Division made good their escape: ‘One of the regiments of the Twelfth, the 2nd Royal Lancasters, together with about three hundred Warwicks, from, the Tenth Brigade, and some detachments of other regiments, were, by some mischance, isolated in the village of Haucourt with no definite orders, and held on until ten o'clock at night, when the place was nearly surrounded. They fought their way out, however, in a most surprising fashion, and eventually made good their retreat. One party, under Major Poole of the Warwicks, rejoined the Army next day. Another, which consisted of about sixty of the Royal Lancasters under Major Parker, were surrounded in a barn and fought on until the Germans blew in the gate with a Field-gun. Instead of surrendering, they then made a desperate sally, and, dashing out with their bayonets, they charged down the village street, which was full of German infantry. They actually cut their way through and got away into the open country.’

For his gallantry at Haucourt, Burnett-Hitchcock was mentioned in Sir John French’s despatch of 8 October 1914, was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. He went on to serve at the Marne, the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres, Festubert (1915), Second Battle of Ypres, Loos and Battle of the Somme. He was given the Brevet of Major 18 February 1915, became Major 1 September 1915; was given the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel 3 June, 1916 ; and was given the Brevet of Colonel 1 Jan. 1917.

Burnett-Hitchcock’s war services, 1915-1918, are referred to by Alan H. Maude in ‘The 47th (London) Division 1914 - 1919’:
‘Major B. F. Burnett-Hitchcock, DSO, Sherwood Foresters, joined us as GSO2 in France on March 25th, 1915, and after a short absence as A.Q.M.G. of the IVth Corps, returned to us as GSOi on August 20th, 1915, and remained with us till June 15th, 1916, when he left us to become a Brigadier-General and D.A. and Q.M.G. of an Army Corps, and later a Major-General and Director of Mobilisation at the War Office. It fell to him to work out and control the whole process of demobilisation at the end of the war.’

For the Great War Burnett-Hitchcock was Mentioned in Despatches seven times, created a CB in 1918, was made an Officer of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus (Italy), 1918 and awarded the Croix de Guerre (France), 1920. He was appointed Temporary Brigadier-General in France in 1916; Director of Mobilisation at the War Office, with rank of Temporary Brigadier-General, 1917, and Director-General of Mobilisation, with temporary rank of Major-General, 1918; and promoted Major-General 3 June, 1919. In charge of Administration, Aldershot Command 1921-25, he commanded the 55th (West Lancs) Division, Western Command, 1926-28 and was Officer Commanding the Deccan District (4th Indian Division) 1928-30. Advanced Lieutenant-General, 1930, he was placed on half-pay, 1930-32, and was a created a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1932. He retired in 1933 and died at Westminster, London on 23 November 1938.
Dr David Biggins
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