Guided at £1000-1400, it made £17,000 at Mayfair saleroom Noonans (24% buyer’s premium) on July 26.
The belt was awarded by the Natal Carbineers to Chrissie Emma Thompson of the Natal Volunteer Medical Corps in recognition of her great service.
Christopher Mellor-Hill of Noonans said the belt was sold “by an elderly collector of Boer War medals as part of the most rarefied and comprehensive section of medical awards for the Boer War to come onto the market.
“It was the highlight of this medical collection and was bought by a private museum dedicated to the Anglo-Boer War.”
It is hal lmarked for Birmingham 1901 and features a maker’s mark T&JB. With a silver waist belt clasp applied with gold badge of the carbineers hallmarked 9ct, the belt includes 11 silver roundels linked by silver chains.
Two are inscribed Presented by the Natal Carbineers to Nurse C. E. Thompson, in recognition of her great services to the men of the Regiment and During the Siege of Ladysmith Nov. 2. 1899. to Feb. 28. 1900.
The remaining roundels depict scenes such as Maritzburg Town Hall and a covered ambulance wagon.
Thompson was mentioned in dispatches by Sir George White for services during the Defence of Ladysmith (London Gazette, February 8, 1901) and was appointed a Member of the Royal Red Cross for services in South Africa on March 13, 1903, the recommendation stating: ‘In recognition of the services rendered by them in tending the sick and wounded at the Volunteer Hospital, at Intombi…’
It is thought 18 of these belts were awarded. Six were for service in Ladysmith itself and others – including Thompson’s – for Intombi Camp Hospital (after an agreement between Sir George White and Boer commander Piet Joubert, the British in Ladysmith decided to establish a neutral camp about 5km away).
Another of these belts, given to nursing sister EM Early, was sold at Noonans (formerly Dix Noonan Webb) for £1100 in December 2002, while that of H Galloway made £2600 at the same saleroom in September 2013.
Collectors’ website angloboerwar.com includes a long discussion on the whereabouts of the belts and the medals also awarded to the nurses.
Thompson’s belt is given a provenance to ‘City Coins, Cape Town, December 2004, for R43,000 (£3670)’.
The same collection offered at Noonans featured a medal group of six awarded to another Intombi nursing sister: Jessie P Stow, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, late Natal Volunteer Medical Corps, later Rhodesian Railways Nursing Service.
The group, sold within estimate at £3800, included an RRC (Royal Red Cross) given for service at Intombi and Great War ‘Mesopotamia’ second award bar.