Medals and Coins, Arms and Armour - 22nd June 2021

Lot 32

The historic Great War Military Cross group of medals to Captain (Robert) Anthony Eden

Estimate £7,000 - £10,000 | Hammer £22000

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The historic Great War Military Cross group of medals to Captain (Robert) Anthony Eden, King's Royal Rifle Corps, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955 to 1957: Military Cross, George V; British War Medal 1914-20 (CAPT. R.A. EDEN), Victory Medal (CAPT. R. A. EDEN), Jubilee Medal 1935, Coronation Medal 1937, Coronation Medal 1953, the last three unnamed as issued; mounted for wearing and with tailor's copy MID emblem to the Victory Medal, good very fine or better; together with two mounted sets of corresponding dress miniatures, one pre and one post 1953.

Best known as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955-57, as a young man Robert Anthony Eden was involved in the formation of the 21st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps (Yeoman Rifles) during the First World War. He was a member of Eton College Officer Training Corps, and the outbreak of the War had found him eager, like many of his generation, to find a place in a regiment. His brother Jack was killed in action in 1914, and this seems only to have quickened his enthusiasm. His initial efforts were hampered by poor eyesight, but his chance came when a family friend, the Earl of Feversham, set about raising the new battalion. Eden went with the Yeoman Rifles to the Western Front as a junior officer and his early exploits included an abortive trench raid following which he led the hazardous rescue of a dangerously wounded Sergeant. The battalion was deployed to the Somme front in September 1916 where its commander Lord Feversham was killed in action, and his replacement appointed the young Eden as his Adjutant, in which capacity he gave exemplary service. His M.C. was gazetted in June 1917, shortly before he went into action following the detonation of the mine under Messines Ridge at the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

All sources indicate that Eden was not only very brave; but that he was also compassionate and highly principled, with a deeply felt concern and respect for the men under his command. This courageous and intelligent officer went on to have a distinguished career in politics, becoming an opponent of appeasement during the 1930s, and then playing a vital role in Winston Churchill's cabinet during the Second World War. He served as Prime Minister between 1955 and 1957, and it is believed that this is the first time that the medals of a British Prime minister have been offered at auction.

Military Cross: London Gazette, 4th June 1017