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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 82

The campaign group of five awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Sykes, Denbighshire Yeomanry,late 2nd Dragoon Guards, who was 'mentioned' during the Boer War and commanded the Denbighshire Hussars at the outbreak of the Great War

Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Relief of Mafeking, Paardeberg, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 (Capt. H. P. Sykes. 2/Drgn. Gds:), dated clasp a period copy; British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Col. H. P. Sykes); Territorial Force War Medal 1914-19 (Lt. Col. H. P. Sykes. Denbigh. Yeo.); Coronation 1911, mounted as worn this last with replacement suspension, otherwise good very fine (5)

Approximately 18 Territorial Force War Medals issued to the Officers of the Denbighshire Yeomanry.

M.I.D. London Gazette 10 September 1901. A newspaper extract provides:

'Major Harold Sykes, of the 2nd Dragoon Guards, has returned to England on a short furlough, after being on active service in South Africa. To our Stockport Correspondent he said he arranged the first of the refugee concentrated camps, and when he left he had a camp of about 6000 women and children under his care. All charges of cruelty and inhumanity were vile and calumnious falsehoods. Nay, worse, they were miserable, despicable concoctions. Both women and children were better off, the great bulk of them than ever they were in their lives. The only thing approaching cruelty to them was that the authorities insisted upon cleanliness and proper attention to sanitary regulations, which the average Boer, being a stranger to, utterly disliked. He had seen all the workings of these camps. He could give an unqualified denial to all the villainous allegations that had recently been made in public meeting and in the House of Commons. There might be restrictions in camp life which were distasteful to the Boer, but what was to be done? When left in charge of their farms, each homestead was a commissariat department and an arsenal. The British would come upon them and find, say, four, five, or six bags of what or corn, as the case might be. They would take the corn and the rifles, leaving enough only for present necessities; but if they returned in four or five days they would find nearly double the quantity of both food and ammunition which had been taken away, and often have reports of the sniping of British soldiers as a result of leniency. He therefore recommended this scheme of camps which appeared to give so much umbrage to the pro-Boer school. At first Lord Roberts did not fall in with the suggestions, but later, when the sniping and the opposition and treachery of the women on the farms became so intolerableand such a menace to the safety of the lives of British troops, the Commander-in-Chief fell in with the arrangement and agreed to their formation. He (Major Sykes) was, therefore, specially interested in giving an unqualified denial to the calumnies and the lies which from the basest motives several politicians had recently given utterance to.

The food supplied to the camp was ample, and the best of its kind. The rations supplied weekly consisted of 7lb. meal or flour; 3lb. meat; 6oz. sugar; 6oz. coffee and 2oz. or 3oz. salt, per adult. Water was plentiful, but about the supply of milk for such a camp there was at present a difficulty. A number of cows were kept, and milked regularly for the sick, the weakly, and the children, and when this was not sufficient, they had a good supply of tinned milk. For the use of the sick and those in hospital, the Medical Officer had carte blanche for anything that he might deem necessary, however luxurious or costly. There was no stint in such cases. The death-rate might appear high, but when it was taken into consideration that the whole of the district under his administration was at large as Ireland, and that people were gathered together from all quarters it was not very striking that the mortality should appear high. The medical men told him that there was no very great increase over the normal death rate under their old conditions. There were shops in the camp at which people might purchase at any time such little luxuries as they fancy. The able-bodied both of women and boys were made to work at something, and they were paid for what they did. The pay was not great, threepence, sixpence, or one shilling a day, but it nevertheless allowed them to buy little delicacies over and above their rations.

Harold Platt Sykes was born on 16 February 1865, he became 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Dragoon Guards on 16 November 1897; Lieutenant 9 December 1892 and Captain on 10 March 1897. He was employed with the Remount Department (graded Staff Captain) from 4 December 1899-18 March 1900. He was then attached to the Kimberley Mounted Corps serving with 'A' Division, South African Constabulary between 23 October 1900-10 October 1901 (Queen's Medal & 4 clasps).

When the Great War was declared on 4 August 1914, the Denbighshire Hussars mobilised at their drill halls under the command of Sykes, who had been in command since 21 December 1910, he saw service overseas in Egypt from 3 March 1916 and applied for his Great War Medals in June 1922. At the time he was living at Longford Hall, Newport, Salop. He died on 13 February 1942.

Sold together with the following archive comprising:

A letter sent to his father from the Remount Depot, dated 18 December 1899, where he notes he is cursed with "incompetent generals" amongst other experiences.

Assorted newspaper cuttings relating to the Boer War and his involvement with concentrated camps.


Assorted photographs from a Field Day from c.1914.

A letter addressed to him at No.12 Officers Convalescent Hospital, Garden City, Cairo, dated 2 May 16 from a fellow officer, Denbigh Yeomanry El Alamein. The letter updates him on the situation of the unit and wishes him a speedy recovery.

A menu from the Mafeking Dinner, dated 16 May 1908.

A certificate for Mrs W.Sykes for her service in the Woman Home Guard Auxiliary.

For his miniature dress Medals, please see Lot 362.

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