'Devil's Own' War Medal charges to £9,000
'Devil's Own' War Medal charges to 9,000
A 200 year old award connected to a famous battalion doubled its estimate at Dix Noonan Webb
The Peninsula War was a part of the Napoleonic Wars, fought over the Iberian Peninsula between France and the allied forces of Span, Britain and Portugal from 1807 to 1814.
Amongst the British forces were the 88th Foot Regiment - known as the 'Devil's Own' Connaught Rangers - which first saw action on the Peninsula in 1809. They certainly distinguished themselves, especially from February 1810 onwards under the command of Thomas Picton.
On 27 September 1810, the battalion performed a fierce bayonet charge at Talavera, prompting British commander the Duke of Wellington to tell their commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace, "Wallace, I never saw a more gallant charge than that just made by your regiment."
The Regiment followed up this attack with other exceptional military actions, including another ferocious attack in 1811 at Fuentes D'Onor. They were at the forefront of the successful, though very costly, siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812.
William Flack was commissioned as Ensign in the 88th Foot Regiment in 1805, becoming Lieutenant in May 1806, and was part of their various exploits. He received a life-threatening injury at Ciudad Rodrigo.
William Flack's Medal with 4 clasps
Flack survived to be made Captain later that year, and was awarded a pension of 100 per annum from 17 January 1813. He was one of nine officers and two assistant surgeons of the 88th who survived to take the medal clasp for the battle.
At Dix Noonan Webb's medal auction in London on March 31, 2010, Flack's Military General Service 1793-1814 medal (which has clasps for Talavera, Busaco and Fuentes D'Onor as well as Ciudad Rodrigo) was estimated at 4,000-5,000.
Bidders quickly pressed past this, however, and the final hammer price was a full 9,000. Medal collectors will now look ahead to Spink's sale of one of the earliest Victoria Crosses on April 22.
Those interested in rare and valuable collectibles from the Napoleonic era will also be interested to know that a unique letter written by Napoleon to his military commander, showing his concern at Prussia returning to the war, is currently available for sale.
Medal image: Dix Noonan Webb