THE 2ND BOER WAR AWARD OF A VICTORIA CROSS TO PRIVATE ALBERT CURTIS, EAST SURREY REGIMENT, HAS BEEN SOLD AT AUCTION BY SPINK OF LONDON.
20 October 1999

The Victoria Cross and other campaign medals awarded to Private Albert Curtis, 2nd Bn, East Surrey Regiment, have been sold at auction by Spink of London for a hammer price of £40,000. The VC was purchased on behalf of the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.



( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Private Albert Curtis,
2nd Bn, East Surrey Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • Queen's South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 5 clasps:
    • "Tugela Heights" - "Orange Free State"
    • "Relief of Ladysmith" - "Transvaal" - "Laing's Nek"
  • King's South Africa Medal ( 1901-02 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • King George V Coronation Medal ( 1911 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )

Private Albert Curtis was born on 6th January 1866 at Guildford, Surrey. He began his military career in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders but some time during 1893 he transferred to the East Surrey Regiment. It was during the 2nd Boer War ( 1899-1902 ) in South Africa that Albert Curtis earned his Victoria Cross.


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 15 January 1901 ]. Onderbank Spruit, South Africa, 23 February 1900, Private Albert Edward Curtis, 2nd Bn, East Surrey Regiment.

At Onderbank Spruit on 23rd February 1900, Colonel R Harris was severely wounded and lay during the whole day in an exposed position and under heavy fire from Boers posted behind a breastwork at short range. The Boers fired at anyone who gave any sign of life and Colonel Harris was hit eight or nine times. Private Curtis made several ineffectual attempts to reach the wounded officer and at last succeeded in doing so.

Notwithstanding the fire directed upon him, Private Curtis attended the Colonel's wounds, gave him a drink from his flask and endeavoured to carry him to shelter. Finding that he was not equal to the task, he called for help upon which Private Morton immediately dashed out and in spite of the Colonel's entreaties to them to leave him and not risk their lives, the two men succeeded in carrying him to cover.

Albert Curtis was invested with his Victoria Cross by HRH The Duke of York ( the future King George V ) at Pietermaritzburg on the 14th August 1901.


Following his army service, on the 30th May 1910, Albert Curtis became a Yeoman Warder at the Tower-of-London. As a Yeoman Warder he lived with his wife Annie in accommodation in the Martin Tower and retired to the Supernumerary List on 1st November 1931. He died on 18th March 1940.

Acquisitions

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Iain Stewart, 20 October 1999