I’m also taking the opportunity to tell you about an urgent appeal we are launching to acquire an historically important group of medals to the Regiment. In 2018 we were successful in acquiring the medal group of 14 to Lt-Col W F Chipp DSO OBE MC TD, the most decorated officer of the Herefordshire Regiment during the Great War. An opportunity has now arisen to acquire the medals of the Regiment’s most decorated non-commissioned officer – Cpl John Symonds DCM MM. His medals and memorial plaque are to be offered for auction on 14th February 2024.
A unique record of gallant conduct
John Bertram Symonds was born at Tupsley, Hereford, in late1894. A Territorial soldier, he landed with the Regiment, at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, on 9th August 1915. He went on to serve with the regiment in the Palestine campaign where he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)and the Military Medal (MM) and was mentioned in despatches by General Sir Archibald Murray. The Herefordshire Regiment won 8 DCMs during the First World War, and only Symonds won the MM as well: his is a unique combination of medals to the regiment.
Unfortunately, the citations for Cpl Symonds’ Military Medal and Mention in Dispatches have not survived, but an indication of his brave character survives in the citation for his DCM during the Battle of Tel-el-Khuweilfe 1917:
“‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an action. Cpl Symonds showed great courage in crossing an exposed piece of ground under very heavy rifle fire to obtain an important message from a runner who was lying wounded in the open.”
On 23rd July 1918, the Herefords took part in an attack to the south of Soissons – their first in France. They suffered some 238 casualties from machine-gun fire whilst advancing through high standing corn. Sadly, John Symonds was one of the those men killed and today lies buried at Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire.
How can you help?
The auction estimate is £2,500 - £3,500, but we suspect considerably more than this will be needed to acquire this important and unique group of medals. The museum trust and Friends have some funds to finance a bid and are investigating additional grantfunding. However, we are seeking pledges from our Friends and supporters should we be successful at auction.
If you feel able to help to secure this important and poignant group of medals for the people of our county, I would be hugely grateful if you would let me know how much you would be willing to donate, should we be able to acquire the Cpl Symonds’ medals. Please reply to this email address.
All pledges will be treated in the strictest confidence. We will contact you after the auction and let you know the result. If you are a UK taxpayer, please do let us know so that we can increase the value of your pledge through the Gift Aid Scheme.
Thank you for your ongoing support to our museum and its role in keeping alive the deeds of our county regiment. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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Very best wishes
Hon Secretary of the Friends of HLIM.