Medals highlight early jazz pioneer

J. H. Squire's East and West Africa Medal, Queen's South Africa Medal and China War Medal

J. H. Squire's East and West Africa Medal, Queen's South Africa Medal and China War Medal - Credit: Archant

A rare set of medals that belonged to a Royal Marine who was later credited with ‘introducing jazz to England’ will go under the hammer in Sidmouth later this month.

Auctioneers at Potburys expect the lot, which belonged to John Henry Squire, to fetch between £600 and £800.

Squire was born in London in 1880, enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1898 as a band boy and later transferred to the Royal Marines as a bandsman.

He served on HMS Terrible and HMS Impregnable, and saw services in the Boer War and Boxer Rebellion.

After leaving the Royal Marines in 1906, he formed the Celeste Octet, which gave its first concert in 1913.


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Squire was the subject of a ‘radio celebrities’ Will’s Cigarette Card which credited him as ‘the man who introduced jazz to England’.

Auctioneer Philip Hurst said: “We expect the medals to be of great interest because there are two aspects – the military history and the musical history.

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“Marine medals are collectable, and medals associated with HMS Terrible are collectable in their own right.”

The lot will go on sale at 10am on June 24 at Potburys Auctions.

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