Bravery medals up for sale

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 16:21 01/04/2014

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A bravery medal awarded to a dentist for saving injured soldiers at Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli is a star piece at a rare auction in Auckland next week.

Colonel Bertram Finn of the Dental Corps won a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his "conspicuous devotion to duty" at Gallipoli during operations between August 6-9, 1915.

This included Chunuk Bair, the highest point captured at Gallipoli, briefly seized by New Zealanders before being recaptured by the Turks.

Finn, according to the medal citation, "worked night and day with unceasing zeal and without rest evacuating the wounded".

He did that under continuous fire and shelling with many of his assistants and wounded men he was helping, being hit.

Finn also received service medals for serving in the Anglo-Boer War and World War II.

His DSO and nine other medals were expected to fetch up to $25,000, said Ben Ashley of Webbs who are conducting the auction of honours and decorations compiled by Wellington Queen's Counsel John Gibson, who died in 2009.

The April 9 auction also includes a large collection of New Zealand land war medals which are not allowed, under law, to leave New Zealand. The New Zealand Medals were awarded to colonial troops who fought against Maori.

"This is a very rare opportunity for people to buy them," Ashley said.

The collection includes a medal awarded to Gunner's Mate T Tuzise who took part in the assault on Ruapekapeka Pa in January 1846.

Another New Zealand Medal to be sold was awarded to Drummer H Trigger from HMS Esk who took part in the Battle of Gate Pa in April 1864.

One of the more unusual collections is a group of eight medals owned by Rear Admiral William Arthur, after whom Port Arthur in China is named.

He was awarded a New Zealand Medal and a Crimea Medal 1854-56 with the word "Sabastopol" on it.

The collection also includes a gold medal with two green silk tassels personally inscribed in Chinese characters "High Commissioner Ho gives to Great English Man of War Commander te Jen Tiao to wear".

Medals from Gibson's collection that had no New Zealand links were sold several years ago in Britain for more than $1 million.

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- Fairfax Media

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