A collection of medals including a Victoria Cross won by an Army officer for his bravery in a controversial war during the era of the British Raj has sold for £420,000 at auction.
Charles Grant was a lieutenant with the 12th Regiment (2nd Burma Battalion) Madras Infantry when he fought in the Anglo-Manipur War in 1891.
The VC was sold together with other historically important items to an unnamed bidder who was described by London-based auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb as “a relatively new collector of British Gallantry Awards”.
The month-long conflict between the British Empire and the Kingdom of Manipur – on the North East Frontier of India – saw Grant earn the nickname the “Hero of Manipur” for his bravery.
He led his men during the Battle of Thoubal where just 80 troops fought off wave after wave of attack, facing down an estimated 2,000 enemy forces.
Christopher Mellor-Hill, of Dix Noonan Webb, said the sale is a new auction world record price for a ‘British Military Victoria Cross’ and it “further underlines the stature of The VC as the world’s most famous gallantry award”.
Charles James William Grant was born in Bourtie, Aberdeenshire in 1861.
He was the son of a Lieutenant-General and was educated privately and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
He was commissioned Lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment on May 10 1882, and joined the Madras Staff Corps in 1884. After a long military career, in which he later became a Colonel, he spent his later years in Sidmouth in Devon, where he died in 1932, aged 71 years.
Col Grant’s unpublished leather bound ‘Officer’s Field Note and Sketch Book and Reconnaissance Aide-Memoire’ in which he meticulously records the march to Manipur and the capture and subsequent defence of Thobal were also sold with the VC.
A file of original letters, including the negotiations between Grant and the Manipuris and a coded message from Grant in Greek characters to the relief force were also part of the collection.
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration, awarded for valour in the face of the enemy.
Since its introduction in 1856 there have been 1,354 recipients, with Col Grant being the 406th.
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