Private William Richards’ medals and, inset, his Princess Mary Christmas tin.

Medals of brave Staffordshire soldier gassed in WW1 sell for £1,400 in Tamworth auction

THE medals of a Tamworth soldier who made it home from WW1 despite being gassed in the trenches have sold at auction just yards from where he was born.

Private William J Richards of the North Staffs Regiment was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy attack… utterly regardless of personal danger”.

His DCM, 1914-1915 trio of medals and archive including a Princess Mary Christmas tin sold for £1,400 at Richard Winterton Auctioneers on Wednesday, January 4.

The collection was described by militaria specialist Jeff Clark as “an exceptional set of medals”.

William Richards pictured in a family photograph from the 1930s.
William Richards pictured in a family photograph from the 1930s.

Pte Richards survived the trenches and returned from the war to live a simple life as a carpenter.

He married at St Edith’s Church and stayed in Tamworth, dying in his early 50s from lung complications – probably caused by being gassed in WW1.

The oldest British award for gallantry, the DCM was a decoration established in 1854 by Queen Victoria for gallantry in the field by other ranks of the British Army.

Only ranked below the Victoria Cross – which was introduced in 1856 – the DCM was discontinued in 1993 when it was replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

Private William Richards’ medals archive sold at £1,400.
Private William Richards’ medals archive sold at £1,400.

“Pte Richards was born at a house in Aldergate in Tamworth at the end of the 19th century,” said auctioneer Ben Winterton.

“The property is just a few minutes’ walk from The Tamworth Auction Rooms in Church Street.

“It was a really special moment to bring down the gavel on this important lot which achieved a well-deserved hammer price.”

Further militaria highlights included a collection of badges and medals selling at £620; a WW1 South Staffordshire casualty group of medals to a Cannock soldier, fetching £480; and some unusual trench art candle holders, which made £260.

These unusual trench art candle holders made £260.
These unusual trench art candle holders made £260.

Other items under the hammer in the Collectors Sale included a large stamps collection selling at £900 and toys including model railways, dolls and diecast vehicles.

Vintage Action Man items including figures, clothing and accessories totalled £630 and boxed N gauge track sold for £560.

Richard Winterton’s next Collectors Sale featuring medals and militaria, stamps and vintage toys takes place on February 22, starting at 9.30am.

Viewing at the Church Street premises takes place the day before from 10am-4pm.

Catalogues can be viewed online via https://www.richardwinterton.co.uk/auction-dates.

To book a free valuation, telephone 01827 217746 or email tamworth@richardwinterton.co.uk.

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