An iconic group of World War I medals awarded to a Warrington soldier has been acquired by the Lancashire Infantry Museum following a last-minute appeal for funds.Advertisement
The medals were awarded to Captain Sam Boast of the South Lancashire Regiment, a famous figure in the history of the regiment which eventually became the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, and is now the present-day Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Sam was one of three sons who, with their father, all served with the South Lancashires right through World War I, one of whom was killed. Sam, who served from the first days right through to the last, started the war as a Corporal, was commissioned in the field, and won a Military Cross for gallantry in 1918.
When, in the 1920’s, the officers of the South Lancashires decided to commission a silver statue to serve as a memorial to all their brother officers who had died in the war, Sam was selected to be the model “because he symbolised the tradition of family service, the mutual trust and respect between officers and men, and the unifying and sustaining spirit of the Regiment.”
Ever since it was completed, Sam’s statue has stood in the Officer’s Mess of the Regiment’s 1st Battalion, as it does to this day. By tradition, Sam is never polished, to represent the mud and the grime of the Flanders trenches. Except, that is, for the top of his steel helmet, which is shiny from being rubbed for good luck by the generations of officers who have come after him.
“Arguably, for our Regiment, there is no more iconic group of World War I medals than Sam’s,” said Lt Col (Rtd) John Downham, chairman of the Trustees of the Lancashire Infantry Museum. “When, at short notice, we discovered that they were coming up for auction in London, we had try and get them – but we had no funds.”
However, an urgent appeal via social media to Museum supporters and members of the Regimental family produced an overwhelming response which allowed a successful bid to be made last week.
The medals were put up for auction by an anonymous overseas vendor.
Sam Boast’s medals, with a silver miniature of his statue and the story of his family, will now form a centrepiece of the World War I exhibition in the Museum’s newly-refurbished Somme Room display area.
The Lancashire Infantry Museum represents the old Queen’s Lancashire, Lancashire (Prince of Wales Volunteers), East Lancashire, South Lancashire and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments.
The Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
What do you think of the medal acquisition? Will you go and view them? Let us know in the comments below.