A fine and rare 12-bore shotgun once owned by Field Marshall Sir Frances Festing, GCB, KBE, DSO, is offered in Bonhams Sporting sale in Knightsbridge on December 3rd, for an estimate of £12,000 to £16,000.
Field Marshal Festing was known as a soldier who led from the front. “Frankie Festing” distinguished himself during WW2 campaigns in the Indian Ocean and Burma and his post war career was as successful.
The shotgun makers, Boss & Co, of St James, London, have confirmed that the gun was completed in 1893 and is one of only fourteen ever made. This particular gun was made for a Mr Morton H. Festing Esq.
'Frankie' Festing (1902-1976) was educated at Winchester College before being commissioned into the 3rd Battalion the Rifle Brigade in 1921. In 1940 he became Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion East Lancashire Regiment and then in 1942 Commander of 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group which was the landing force of Force 121 for Operation Ironclad, the seizure of Vichy French ports and airfields in the Indian Ocean, notably Madagascar.
In November 1942 he took command of 36th Division, which was the only all British Division in Field Marshal Slim's 14th Army, all the other Divisions were largely drawn from the Indian Army which included 29th Infantry Brigade, and at the beginning of 1944 led it in the final stages of the Arakan offensive of the Burma Campaign.
In mid-1944 the division moved to Northern Burma as part of the US led Northern Combat Area Command before rejoining 14th Army. Festing had a reputation as a front line soldier and on 29 October 1944 he personally led the advance platoon of the 36th British Division into Mawlu.
He was Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong between 1945 and 1946, and again from June to September in 1949. He became General Officer Commanding British Troops in Egypt in 1952, General Officer Commanding Eastern Command in 1945 and Commander-in-Chief Far East Land Forces in 1956. From 1958 to 1961 he was Chief of the Imperial General staff.
Patrick Hawes, Head of Sporting Guns at Bonhams, comments: “This is a fine example of a very rare Boss hammer gun and together with the provenance it’s a very collectable gun.
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