Bourtie hero's Victoria Cross fetches £420,000 at auction

The unique and exceptional 1891 Capture and Defence of Thobal’ V.C. group of five awarded to a Bourtie war hero has fetched £420,000 – a world auction record for a British Military Victoria Cross.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 8:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 8:49 am
Colonel C. J. W. Grant of the 12th Regiment (2nd Burma Battalion) Madras Infantry.
Colonel C. J. W. Grant of the 12th Regiment (2nd Burma Battalion) Madras Infantry.

The medal of 30-year-old Scotsman Lieutenant, later Colonel, Charles James William Grant of the 12th Regiment (2nd Burma Battalion) Madras Infantry was originally expected to fetch £300,000-400,000 at Dix Noonan Webb’ s Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria auction.

Charles James William Grant was born in Bourtie in 1861, the son of Lieutenant-General P. C. S. St. J. Grant, and was educated privately and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

He was commissioned Lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment on 10 May 1882, and joined the Madras Staff Corps in 1884.

The Victoria Cross and notebook fetched £420,000 at auction

After a long military career, he spent his later years in Sidmouth in Devon, where he died in 1932, aged 71 years.

Christopher Mellor-Hill, Head of Client Liaison (Associate Director), Dix Noonan Webb said: “We are very happy to see a new auction world record price for a ‘British Military Victoria Cross’ as well as an in-house auction record for a medal at DNW.

"This further underlines the stature of The VC as the world’s most famous gallantry award. Col. Grant’s bravery for his fighting leadership in the capture and defence of the Fort at Thobal in Manipur, Eastern India in 1891, earned him the tribute of one of his Gurkha soldiers who said; ‘How could we be beaten under Grant Sahib? He is a tiger in fight’.”

"That catches the essence of his brilliant capture and subsequent defence of the fort in trying to save the lives of the captives of the rebel commander who had overthrown the new Maharajah in Manipur.”

The V.C was sold together with a substantial associated archive of historical importance including Grant’s unpublished leather bound ‘Officer’s Field Note and Sketch Book and Reconnaissance Aide-Memoire’ in which he meticulously records the march to Manipur and the capture and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, illustrated by several detailed sketches, a file of original letters, including the negotiations between Grant and the Manipuris, and a coded message from Grant to the relief force.