Great War Victoria Cross awarded to Scheffield man sells for hammer price of £220,000 at Noonans

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Great War Victoria Cross awarded to Scheffield man sells for hammer price of £220,000 at Noonans
Great War ‘Western Front’ Victoria Cross.

LONDON.- A fine Great War ‘Western Front’ Victoria Cross awarded to Sergeant Arnold Loosemore for his great gallantry during the second Anglo-French general attack of the Third Battle of Ypres that took place south of Langemarck in Belgium on 11 August 1917 was sold for a hammer price of £220,000 by Noonans in a sale of Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria today (Wednesday, July 26, 2023). It was bought by a Private Collector.

As Christopher Mellor-Hill, Head of Client Liaison at Noonans commented: “We were very pleased that both telephone bidders on the VC were British and that it has gone to the collection of a private individual who is known to lend items for display. This was a very respectable price that reflects Loosemore’s gallantry in the Great War and it was a nice ending to his very sad story.”

He continued: “Loosemore’s medals were a phenomenal achievement with only 32 men receiving both the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the Great War; of these, only three received the D.C.M. after the V.C., and consequently Loosemore’s D.C.M. is just one of three to be named with the post-nominal letters ‘V.C.’ No other medal is as desirable and sought-after by collectors as the Victoria Cross. This example had been sold by the recipient’s son in 1996 to a collector in Australia and we were pleased to show the medals to Loosemore’s grandson for the first time before the sale.”

Loosemore was in the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) and after two members of his section had been killed beside him, he fought with every means at his disposal - machine-gun, bomb, rifle and revolver - to thwart a determined counterattack which appeared to many as though it must succeed, and accounted for about 20 of the enemy as well as a number of snipers, before returning to his original post with a wounded comrade under heavy fire.

Remarkably, Loosemore’s V.C.-winning exploits came the day after he was reputed to have shot down with his Lewis gun a German fighter that was engaged in a ‘dog-fight’ with a British aircraft, this saving the British pilot’s life. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M) for his gallantry with the 1st/4th Battalion at Zillebeke during a raid on 20 June 1918 - ‘a highly successful operation, 11 prisoners and one Machine Gun being captured, and numerous casualties being inflicted on the enemy’ - Loosemore was severely wounded by machine gun fire at Villers- en-Cauchies on 11 October 1918, resulting in his left leg being amputated. He never fully recovered from his war wounds, and died because of tuberculosis in 1924

Arnold Loosemore was born in Sharrow, Sheffield, on 7 June 1896, the son of George Loosemore, a gardener at the Sheffield Central Cemetery, and his wife Selina, and the sixth of seven brothers, all of whom served during the Great War. Educated at Clifford School in Sheffield, he was employed as a farmworker at Fulwood, Yorkshire when War was declared in 1914, and immediately volunteered. Turned down for enlistment owing to his frail physique, he took a job with a coal merchant to build up his strength, and successfully attested for the York and Lancaster Regiment on 2 January 1915. He transferred to the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) on 10 March 1915 and served with the 8th Battalion during the Great War in the Gallipoli theatre of War from 11 September 1915. Departing Turkey in December 1915, Loosemore returned to England, before being posted to France, arriving on the Western Front on 3 July 1916 as a Lewis machine-gunner.

Promoted Corporal on 17 August 1917, Loosemore’s Victoria Cross was announced on 14 September 1917, and he was presented with the V.C. riband by the General Officer Commanding at Poperinghe on 23 September. Returning to the U.K. on leave in December of that year, he was presented with his Victoria Cross by H.M. the King at Buckingham Palace on 2 January 1918, and the following day attended a Civic Reception in his home city of Sheffield, where over 2,000 people cheered him from the steps of the Town Hall.

He was buried with full military honours, his funeral being organised by Sheffield City Council, with crowds lining the procession route from Hillsborough to Ecclesall, and the funeral service being conducted by the Lord Bishop of Sheffield. His widow was denied a War Widows pension from the Government on the grounds that he was no longer a serving soldier at the time of their marriage, and, as her husband’s V.C. annuity ceased upon his death, she and their son were left penniless. Shamefully, she was then sent the bill for her husband’s funeral procession by the City Council. 60 years later the City Council belatedly attempted to right this wrong, by naming a new residential road ‘Loosemore Drive’ in his honour.

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