Sidmouth's Hero of Manipur's Victoria Cross to be auctioned
- Credit: Dix Noonan Webb
A Victoria Cross medal belonging to Colonel Grant, ‘The Hero of Manipur’, an officer who spent his final days as a resident in Sidmouth, is set to go under the hammer at auction later this month and is expected to fetch between £300,000-£400,000.
Charles James William Grant was born in Bourtie, Aberdeenshire in 1861, the son of Lieutenant-General P C S St J Grant, and was educated privately and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned Lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment on May 10, 1882, and joined the Madras Staff Corps in 1884. After a long military career, he spent his later years in Sidmouth in Devon, where he died in 1932, aged 71 years.
Mark Quayle, Associate Director and Medal Expert at Dix Noonan Webb auctioneers, said: “We are very excited to be offering this outstanding VC group and important archive in our June sale. The action fought by Grant and his small band of Gurkhas in 1891 on the North East Frontier of India was a great epic of empire which brought him fame during his lifetime as the ‘Hero of Manipur’. His storming of the defences at Thobal was remarkable in itself but it is no exaggeration to say that the subsequent defence of that place for eight days with just 80 men against an estimated 2000 of the enemy is a feat that probably ranks alongside Rorke’s Drift in the history of famous defences against overwhelming odds.”
The VC is to be sold together with a substantial associated archive of historical importance - items of particular significance including: Grant’s unpublished leather bound ‘Officer’s Field Note and Sketch Book and Reconnaissance Aide-Memoire’ in which he meticulously records the march to Manipur and the capture and subsequent defence of Thobal, illustrated by several detailed sketches of both actions and positions; and a file of original letters, including the negotiations between Grant and the Manipuris and a coded message from Grant in Greek characters to the relief force.
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration, awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. Since its introduction in 1856 there have been 1354 recipients. Charles James William Grant was the 406th recipient.
Dix Noonan Webb auctioneers will be hosting the live/online auction of Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 via its website www.dnw.co.uk