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WWI medals telling story of two Staffordshire soldiers to sell at auction in June

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With over 800,000 British soldiers losing their lives in the WWI conflict, pretty much every town and village in the country was touched by tragedy. With the 100th anniversary of the end of the war marked in 2018, while few have living memory of those lost in the trenches, many families have stories of loss and bravery that have been handed down the generations.

One such a story with a Staffordshire link is reflected in the medals awarded to two young Staffordshire lads recently discovered in a house in Stone. While one survived the conflict the other, sadly, did not. Expected to fetch £50-80 when they go under the hammer as part of local auction house Cuttlestones’ Summer Antique Auction on 3rd June 2021, they unlock a tragic backstory that was all too common just a few generations past.

Harry & Alfred Tunstall – possibly brothers or cousins – served with the North Staffs Regiment, which raised a total of 18 Battalions and was awarded 52 battle honours and 4 Victoria Crosses; losing 5,430 men during the course of the War.

Private Harry Tunstall (2321) was born in Stone, circa 1898 to William & Mary Tunstall who lived in the town’s Victoria Street. He entered the War on 5th March 1915; rising to the rank of Lance Corporal in the Machine Gun Corps and serving in both France and Flanders. His regiment saw heavy action in Gommecourt during 1916 and the disastrous Borquoy assault in early 1917. He died aged just 19 on 14th June 1917, reported missing in action. Harry’s medals in the lot include a British War Medal, a Victory Medal and a 1914-15 Star Medal; all without their ribbons.

Slightly less is known about Private Alfred Tunstall (1539) who served with three regiments during his time in action. Records show he was entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. He survived the war and is believed to have left the army in 1920. Medals awarded to Alfred that are set to go under the hammer are include a British War Medal and a Victory Medal, both of which still have their ribbons. The collection also includes a ‘Death Or Glory’ badge, but it is not known to which brother it belonged.

Cuttlestones’ auctioneer, Dave Eglington, says:
“WWI medals are highly collectable and, while these examples are not hugely valuable in their own right, they carry a story that may well make them of interest to local historians. Aside from the very rare medals, what interests collectors most is the provenance – or story – that medals tell, so those with paper clippings and photographs tend to perform particularly well. This poignant story of two local young lads will certainly leave its mark, and it will be interesting to see who buys them at auction.”

The medals will go under the hammer as part of Cuttlestones’ online Spring Antiques Auction on  Thursday, 3rd June in Penkridge, with live online bidding via www.the-saleroom.com  or www.easyliveauction.com. Telephone and commission bidding options also available – call 01785 714905. Interested in consigning an item to auction? Email [email protected] or send pictures via WhatsApp 07949 603872.

 

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