C.M.G., Boer War D.S.O. Argyll and Sutherland Highrs, who rescued a wounded man during at Modder River, 1899, and was himself wounded. He led a bayonet charge at Magersfontein 1899, taking an advanced post of 60 men, killing or wounding half of them

Item type:

Product code: A6995

Item condition: G.V.F.

Our price: £4,450.00

Currently out of stock

Medal Description

C.M.G.,  breast badge, converted for neck wear, silver-gilt and enamel,  D.S.O. (V.R.), silver-gilt and enamel, Q.S.A., 3 clasps, Modder River, Paardeberg, Transvaal (Lt. & Adjt: W. G. Neilson, D.S.O., A & S. Hgrs.) K.S.A. (Lt. & Adjt. W. G. Neilson. D.S.O. A & S. Hgrs.) 1914-15 Star (Capt. W. G. Neilson. D.S.O. A. & S. Hghrs.), B.W.M., Victory Medal, with M.I.D.  (Lt. Col. ), 

W.G. Neilson

Mounted Cavalry-Style as originally worn. A couple of the ribbons slightly frayed.

Prov.  Taylor Collection, Christie’s, November 1990. 

C.M.G. L.G. 3/6/1916.

D.S.O. L.G. 27/9/1901.

Walter Gordon Neilson was born at Thankerton House, Bothwell, Glasgow, in 1876,  educ. at Merchiston Castle School and Fettes College. In 1894 he was selected to play Rugby for Scotland against England at Edinburgh in the (then) Four Nations Championship, a match which Scotland won 6-0. He was still at school when he was called up, 'in the 1890's, four brothers - the Neilsons - from Merchiston Castle School were all capped by Scotland. Both Walter and William made their debuts at the age of 17 years and five months, narrowly missing out on being the youngest caps of the Nations with Ninian Finlay (Scotland) 1875 and Charles 'Hippo' Reid (England) 1881 both capped at 17 and 36 days

Neilson was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1897. He served in South Africa, 1899-1902. He was present during the advance on Kimberley, and the regimental history records his part in the Battle of Modder River, 28 November 1899,

'At the battle of Modder River, about midday, a man of "G" Company, lying in advance of the general line, was badly wounded, bleeding to death, and unable to crawl back to a small depression in the ground, where Captain Shanahan, R.A.M.C., was attending to the wounded. 2nd Lieut. Neilson seeing this ran out and carried the man to the medical officer, thus saving his life. On returning to the firing line 2nd Lieut. Neilson was shot through the arm....'

The total casualties during the day were Lieutenant Baker-Carr and 2nd Lieut. Neilson wounded, and 19 non-commissioned officers and men killed and 101 wounded, of whom 11 subsequently died of wounds, plus those slightly wounded who remained at duty, making a total of 122 casualties out of 478 for the whole force engaged.'

(History of the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders, R.P. Dunn Pattison)

At Magersfontein on 11 December 1899,  Colonel Goff was  killed at the commencement of the action. The command therefore devolved on Major Wolrige-Gordon. He ordered an advance; the right of the line was entrusted to 2nd Lieut. Neilson. Neilson, who commanded those of his company, and a mixture of men from the other battalions of the brigade, Neilson soon he came under a very heavy fire from  his right flank. This fire came from the outpost of Scandinavian volunteers, who were stationed there to cover the gap between the trenches on Magersfontein Hill and the underfeature. Neilson ordered an attack on this position, and  about 6am, he got to within charging distance captured the post at bayonet point and  either captured or bayoneted the whole detachment'

Neilson's account of the action included in the regimental history adds the following.

'Major Gordon came along to my end of the line and said that he was going to advance, and that I was to take command of the right of the line. I did so, and we had not gone far before we were subjected to a very heavy fire from our right flank, where mimosa and scrub were growing. I made my part of the line change direction and we made for this fire: very soon I could discern men retiring and lying behind bushes. Against these bushes fire was directed, and we gradually closed and finally charged, and what was left of these Scandinavians (for it turned out to be the advanced post of Scandinavians, some 60 or 70), held up (each) a little white flag. It was impossible to stop the bayonet being used in all cases, as these fellows had fired on us up to the last; but the men were very good, and gave quarter in almost every case. We found that we had made sore havoc of this post. Behind one bush I counted six dead. The wounded were scattered about, the uninjured we collected, some 25 or 30, and I sent them back under an escort.... I found the officer in command of this post mortally wounded through the body.'

Neilson also took part in the action at Koodoosberg, the battles of Paardeburg and Poplar Grove, and the actions at Waternal, Houtnek, Bloemberg, Roodeport and Heilbron. He served under Major General Hamilton during the operations in the Transvaal and was present during the actions at De Wagen Drift, Zilikats Nek and Olifant's Nek. For his services in South Africa he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was twice Mentioned in Despatches (L.G 10/9/1901 and 29/2/1902).

Neilson served as Adjutant with the regiment from 1902 until 1905. He was appointed Brigade Major, Lothian Infantry Brigade, Scottish Command in 1912. He served in the same capacity with 1/1st Lothian Infantry Brigade, Central Force, Home Defence, during the Great War from 5 August 1914 until 19 March 1915, before joining the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Ypres in March 1915. Posted as Brigade Major, 139th Infantry Brigade, he served in the French theatre of war from 1 June 1915 until 21 July 1916. and thereafter with the 34th Division, the 15th Army Corps, the 63rd Division, and Headquarters 4th Army. (C.M.G.)  and was four times Mentioned in Despatches (L.G 1/1/1916, 15/1/1916, 4 /1/1917, and 15/5/1917).

Neilson was appointed to the command of the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Aldershot, in 1922. He held this command until his death, as a result of a riding accident, on 29 April 1927.

Neat official to second 'N' of surname and a couple of letters on the Victory

With good copied photographs of the recipient and  research.

Whilst there are no specific details for the DSO it would be almost certainly awarded for his marked gallantry at Modder River & Magersfontein. 

A very fine junior officers DSO

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