London. 19th July, 2012.
Today Spink UK offered for sale the first V.C. ever awarded to a
private soldier in the Great War (1914-18). The medal group sold to
a private collector for £276,000, far exceeding its' pre-sale
estimate of £140-180,000.
The Victoria Cross group of six was
awarded to Private S.F. Godley, Royal Fusiliers, for his defence of
the Nimy Bridge at Mons on the 23rd August 1914, during the first
infantry attack of the Great War.
The Victoria Cross (V.C.) is the
highest military decoration given for bravery and gallantry in the
face of the enemy. The award is given to the armed forces in
various Commonwealth countries, as well as all of the former
British Empire territories. Private Godley was a worthy recipient,
as although severely wounded by shrapnel and with a bullet lodged
in his skull, he took over a machine-gun from his mortally wounded
commanding officer and continued to hold his position,
single-handedly for two hours, against a sustained heavy German
assault. When the order came to withdraw, he maintained a covering
fire until the entire battalion was evacuated. After much
resistance he was eventually overtaken by the enemy and taken as a
prisoner of war.
The announcement of his award was
published in the London Gazetteon the 25th November,
1914 and read:'For coolness and gallantry in fighting his machine
gun under a hot fire for two hours after he had been wounded at
Mons on 23rd August.'
The original Recommendation, by
Lieutenant F.W.A. Steele, Royal Fusiliers, states: 'In the defence
of a railway bridge near Nimy, 23rd August 1914, Private Godley of
'B' Company showed particular heroism in his management of the
machine guns. His Commanding Officer having been severely wounded
and each machine gunner in turn shot, Private Godley was called to
the firing line on the bridge and under heavy fire he had to remove
three dead bodies and proceed to an advanced machine gun position
under a sustained enemy fire. He carried on defending the position
for two hours after he had received a severe head wound.'
Commenting on the sale, Oliver
Pepys, said: "The Godley V.C. is one of the most distinguished
medal groups of the Great War, so it was not surprising that it
attracted much interest. I am delighted that the sale drew
attention to such a valiant man, who through his actions at Mons
set a standard that the British Tommy would aspire to for the rest
of the War. He brought honour to his regiment and that legacy will
live on, as a sign of what he endured for his country."
For further press information, or pictures, please contact:
020 7563 4009
Note to Editors
Spink holds the record for the
highest price achieved at auction for a V.C. Group to a British
recipient: The Victoria Cross group to Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid,
Royal Air Force, which realised £348,000 in November 2009.
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