Special Collections

Sold on 6 July 2004

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Medals From The Collection of Hal Giblin

Hal Giblin

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№ 433


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

Three: Second Lieutenant F. Marsham-Townshend, 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, who was killed in action at the Rue du Bois on 16 May 1915: One of two officers and eighty Scots Guardsman who ‘fought to the last cartridge’ and whose bodies were subsequently discovered ‘surrounded by heaps of German corpses’

1914-15 Star (2. Lieut., S. Gds.); British War and Victory Medals (2. Lieut.) contained in a contemporary leather-covered, glazed display frame, nearly extremely fine (3)

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


The following is extracted from The Bond of Sacrifice, Volume II:

‘Second Lieutenant Ferdinand Marsham-Townshend who was killed in action on the 16th May 1915, near Festubert, France, and was buried there, was the second son of the Hon. Robert Marsham-Townshend, formerly in the Diplomatic Service, son of the 3rd Earl of Romney, of Frognal, Sidcup, Kent, and his wife, the Hon. Mrs Marsham-Townshend, daughter of the Rev. George Barber Paley, Rector of Freckenham, Suffolk.

Second Lieutenant F. Marsham-Townshend was bor at 5 Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, London, on the 17th April 1880, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree of B.A. in 1903. He received his commission on probation in the Special Reserve of Scots Guards in February 1915, and for active service was attached to the 2nd Battalion of his regiment. Second Lieutenant F. Marsham-Townshend had been at the front for about two months when he was killed.

The following account of the fighting on the 16th May 1915, was published in a weekly paper: “Another episode which sent my mind back to the early days of the war was the heroic stand of the officers and men of the Scots Guards in the sanguinary fighting in the Rue du Bois. Two officers and eighty men of the Scots Guards fought to the last cartridge, and were found dead in the Rue du Bois, surrounded by heaps of German corpses. This was during the fighting at Festubert. This is what Mr Valentine Williams says of these brave fellows: ‘Soaked by the rain, blackened by the sun, there bodies were not beautiful to look upon; but the German dead spread plentifully around, the empty cartridge cases scattered about, the twisted bayonets and the broken rifles showed the price a Scots Guard sets upon his honour. No monarch ever had a finer lying in state than those eighty guardsman dead amid the long coarse grass of this dreary Flanders plain.’ “

Second Lieutenant Marsham-Townshend was one of the two officers referred to.’

He is buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.