An impressive set of medals awarded to the official historian of the Gallipoli campaign has sold at auction for £30,000.
Brigadier-General Cecil Faber Aspinall-Oglander, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. is remembered as one of Sir Ian Hamilton’s most trusted aides during the campaign, and his actions saw him mentioned in despatches over a dozen times.
The group included the following: The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Companion’s neck badge (military), silver-gilt and enamelled; The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamelled; Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R.; Ashanti Medal 1900, no clasp (Lieut. C.F. ASPINALL R. Muns. Fus.), engraved; Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 2nd type, 4 clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Lieut. C.F. ASPINALL, R. Muns: Fus:), engraved; India General Service Medal 1908-35, 1 clasp: North West Frontier 1908 (Lieut. C.F. Aspinall, 1st Rl. M. Fus.); 1914-15 Star (CAPT. C.F. ASPINALL. R. MUNS. FUS.); British War and Victory Medals (BRIG. GEN. C.F. ASPINALL.); Delhi Durbar Medal 1911, silver (CAPT. C.F. ASPINALL ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS) privately engraved; France: Legion of Honour, Officer’s breast badge, gilt and enamelled; Siam: Order of the White Elephant, 1st type, Second Class set of insignia, comprising neck badge and breast star.
Born in Derbyshire in 1878, Cecil Faber Aspinall entered the army via commissions in the Volunteers and the Militia, and saw active service in West Africa in 1900 when wars in South Africa and China left the military short of able officers to deal with disturbances in other parts of the Empire. His actions in the suppression of the Ashanti uprising led to his first mention in despatches. He served subsequently in the Boer War, and travelled to India at its conclusion where he earned a place on the course at the Indian Staff College.
Returning to England in 1913, he was posted to the War Office. Having been chosen as Second in Command of the newly formed Welsh Guards, in March 1915 he was abruptly reassigned to the staff of Sir Ian Hamilton’s Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, tasked with the securing passage of the Dardanelles following the realisation that this could only be accomplished using land forces. Hamilton’s diaries of this time show from the outset that Aspinall was not only trusted by his superior officer, but also by the men who served under him, who Hamilton records as following him faithfully, often despite severe injury. His time during this campaign drew significant attention to his leadership capabilities, and in 1916 he was appointed Chief Staff Officer of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, involved in the final phase of the Somme operations.
In November 1917, Aspinall moved up to be Brigadier-General General Staff of VIII Corps and would remain in this role for the remainder of the war.
He retired from the army in 1920, marrying Joan Oglander in 1927 and settling on the Isle of Wight, at his wife’s family estate of Nunwell. During the Second World War he raised and commanded the 20th (East Wight) Battalion, Hampshire Home Guard. He died at Nunwell in 1959.
Brigadier General Aspinall-Oglander’s orders, decorations and medals, awarded over a 15 year period, are not only a rare combination (unique, in fact, to his regiment) that includes many prestigious awards; but are further distinguished by having been worn by a truly remarkable soldier and officer. Interest online and in the saleroom was soon left standing by a persistent and ultimately successful telephone bidder from the UK.
The sale also included a South Atlantic Medal awarded to Lance Corporal Jeremy “Rocky” Rowe for his services during the Falklands campaign (lot 514), which sold for £2,375, and the Battle of Omdurman Group of six medals to Arthur Westwood (lot 515), which sold for £10,625.
* Prices quoted include buyer's premium at 25%.