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№ 435


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

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An emotive Great War group of three awarded to Second Lieutenant R. Burroughes, 1/5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, who disappeared without trace at Gallipoli on 12 August 1915: the fate of the now famous “Vanished Battalion” was the subject of an acclaimed B.B.C. documentary in 1991

1914-15 Star
(2 Lieut., Norf. R.); British War and Victory Medals (2 Lieut.), in card boxes of issue, extremely fine (3)

Pair: Second Lieutenant S. Burroughes, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, who was killed in action at the crossing of the Oise Canal in November 1918

British War and Victory Medals (2 Lieut.), extremely fine (5) £2000-2500

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin.

View Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin


Randall Burroughes was born in 1896, the son of F. G. Burroughes of Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London. Educated at Winchester, he was commissioned into the Norfolk Regiment and landed with the 1/5th Battalion on ‘A’ Beach at Suvla on 10 August 1915: 48 hours later, in common with most of his comrades, he had disappeared without trace during the attack on the Kuchak Anafarta Ova.

The total casualties of the 1/5th Battalion on this date were stated in the War Diary compiled by officers of the 4th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment to have been 22 officers and about 350 men. Of these, it is generally believed that 16 officers and around 250 men were classed as missing, Burroughes among them, but more recent research by Hal Giblin suggests a more likely total of 12 officers and 104 other ranks (see his article and roll of honour published in the
O.M.R.S. Journal, Spring 1981). Certainly the confused fighting on that fateful day has resulted in considerable debate and differing contentions. Equally certain is that a large percentage of the Battalion, with Colonel Sir H. Proctor-Beauchamp, Bt., C.B., the C.O., at its head, literally disappeared without trace - he was last seen encouraging his men forward by waving his cane over his head and shouting “On the Norfolks on, come on my Holy Boys, forward the Hungry Ninth.”

In his despatch of 11 December 1915, Sir Ian Hamilton, the British Commander-in-Chief, referred to the unknown fate of the missing men of the 1/5th Norfolk Battalion as ‘a very mysterious thing’. He wrote:

‘The 1/5th Norfolk were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy, Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the battalion. The fighting grew hotter, and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded, or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel, with sixteen officers and 250 men, still kept pushing on, driving the enemy before them. Amongst these ardent souls was part of a fine company enlisted from the King’s Sandringham estates. Nothing more was ever seen or heard of any of them. They charged into the forest and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back.’

The remains of the “Vanished Battalion” were not discovered until 1919, when the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, working in Turkey to consolidate and record graves dating from the 1915 Dardanelles campaign, found 122 bodies. On 23 September 1919, the officer commanding the Graves Registration Unit in Gallipoli wrote in a report:

‘We have found the 5th Norfolks - there were 180 in all; 122 Norfolk and a few Hants. and Suffolks with 2/4th Cheshires. We could only identify two - Privates Barnaby and Cotter. They were scattered over an area of about one square mile, at a distance of at least 800 yards behind the Turkish front line. Many of them had evidently been killed in a farm, as a local Turk, who owns the place, told us that when he came back he found the farm covered with the decomposing bodies of British soldiers which he threw into a small ravine. The whole thing quite bears out the original theory that they did not go very far on, but got mopped up one by one, all except the ones who got into the farm.’

Modern accounts speculate that the missing, including Burroughes, were in all likelihood murdered by the Turks at this farm house, and the fact that the above 122 men were actually discovered in what amounted to a mass grave certainly lends weight to such a contention. That said, the Turks officially denied having even come into contact with the Battalion when enquiries were pressed after the War. The remains of those Norfolks recovered were buried in the Imperial War Cemetery at Azmak, Suvla, each grave being marked, ‘A Soldier of the 1/5th Btn. The Norfolk Regiment.’ And all of the missing are commemorated on Panels 42 to 44 of the Helles War Memorial (For full details see Hal Giblin’s articles in the
O.M.R.S. Journal, Spring 1981 and Summer 1992 editions, and Nigel McCrery’s The Vanished Battalion); sold with an original photograph of Burroughes with his cousins, the Cubitt brothers, two of whom met a similar fate on 12 August 1915, together with several copied photographs of a similar nature.

Stephen Burroughes was born in April 1899, the son of F. G. Burroughes of Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London. Educated at Winchester, he was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps from Sandhurst and fought with the 5th Battalion out in France from May to August 1918, prior to joining the 2nd Battalion. He was subsequently killed in action at the crossing of the Oise Canal on 4 November 1918, just one week before the Armistice.