Medals of Sheffield WW1 veteran decorated three times in as many weeks sold for £14, 000

The medals of a First World War soldier who was decorated for gallantry three times in three weeks - probably without firing a shot - have been sold at auction for £14, 000.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 10:06 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:10 am
William Peniston.

Sheffield-born William Peniston joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and became a stretcher bearer during the Battle of the Somme and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal and a Bar within three weeks.

Another Military Medal, making a total of four awards for gallantry, was also won at the Somme, but the date is unclear.

Some of the medals auctioned off.

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The "remarkable" collection was valued between £8, 000 and £10, 000 but sold for £14,000 to an unnamed buyer at Dix Noonan Webb auction house in London on Wednesday, March 1.

Vere Hayes, chairman of trustees at the Royal Green Jackets Rifles Museum, said: "This is a remarkable collection.

"To win any one of these awards would mark a man as very brave, but to have four, especially in such a short space of time, shows him to be of particular valour.

"It is perhaps all the more remarkable as, being a stretcher bearer, he would not have carried a rifle to fire back."

Some of the medals auctioned off.

William was born in 1889 at Oughtbridge, Sheffield and educated at Wadsley Bridge Church School.

In 1916, his unit was thrown into the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest battle of the conflict in which more than a million soldiers are said to have died.

Fragmentary records indicate Lance Corporal Peniston was awarded his first Military Medal on August 26 1916. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on September 11 and the Military Medal again - referred to as a Bar - on September 15. He won a further Military Medal at a later date.

Other medals in the collection included the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and St John Service Medal 1940.

William's citation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal - second only to the Victoria Cross - reads: "His company came under enemy barrage fire which caused considerable casualties, and he remained behind under heavy shelling, attending to the wounded, and helped to carry them to the aid post."

Also in the auction was a personal letter showing he ended the war as a prisoner of the Germans.

After the war he worked at Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire until his retirement and died in neighbouring Edwinstowe in 1974, aged 85.