Victoria Cross Sells For World Record Price As Part Of Military Medals Collection

The Victoria Cross was given to Lieutenant C.J.W. Grant, later Colonel, for 'bravery and devotion to his country displayed' in Manipur.

A collection of military medals including a Victoria Cross has sold for £420,000.

It is a world auction record for a British military Victoria Cross, according to auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, with the group of medals expected to fetch between £300,000 and £400,000 beforehand.

The 1891 'Capture and Defence of Thobal' Victoria Cross, part of a collection of five medals, was awarded to Scotsman Lieutenant C. J. W. Grant, later Colonel, of the 12th Regiment (2nd Burma Battalion) Madras Infantry, and is the highest military decoration.

Awarded for valour in the face of the enemy, there have been 1,354 recipients since its introduction in 1856 – with Mr Grant the 406th to receive the medal.

The Victoria Cross was sold alongside a substantial associated archive of historical importance.

This included Lieutenant Grant's unpublished 'Officer's Field Note and Sketch Book and Reconnaissance Aide-Memoire', which records the march to Manipur and the defence of Thobal.

Alongside the meticulous records are illustrations of both actions and positions.

Also included in the archive is a file of original letters, including the negotiations between Lt Grant and the Manipuris, as well as a coded message from Lt Grant to the relief force.

The VC was sold alongside a substantial associated archive of historical importance (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).

Mark Quayle, Dix Noonan Webb's Associate Director and Medal Expert, said the actions of Lieutenant Grant "and his small band of Gurkhas in 1891 on the North East Frontier of India was a great epic of empire".

"His storming of the defences at Thobar was remarkable in itself," he said.

"But it is no exaggeration to say that the subsequent defence of that place for eight days, with just 80 men against an estimated 2,000 of the enemy, is a feat that probably ranks alongside Rorke's Drift in the history of famous defences against overwhelming odds."

After hearing about Manipur in March 1891, Lt Grant immediately set out to relieve the presumed British captives.

This saw him advance his 80-man Tammu detachment, made up of 40 Ghurkas and 40 Punjabi troops, towards Manipur under continuous opposition.

He stormed the enemy position, before driving the 800-strong enemy from their defences.

The story goes that Lt Grant then set up a defensive position with improvised fortifications, before having to defend the position against an estimated 2,000 returning enemy forces.

The London Gazette said he had been awarded the Victoria Cross 'for the conspicuous bravery and devotion to his country displayed' in Manipur.

Cover image: The Victoria Cross in a group of five medals awarded to Scotsman Lieutenant, C. J. W. Grant, later Colonel (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).