Memorial plaque from Eastbourne soldier sells for more than £10,000
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The Great War Memorial Plaque was related to Lieutenant Euan Lucie-Smith who is believed to have been the first black officer commissioned into a British army regiment during the Great War. He served in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Mr Lucie-Smith was killed in action on April 25 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres.
The plaque, which was estimated to fetch £600-800, sold for £10,540 at Dix Noonan Webb auction house in London last week (November 12).
After lots of fundraising, it was bought by The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum in Warwickshire.
It was originally discovered by former Member of the European Parliament James Carver.
Mr Carver said, “The greatest wish of any medal collector or amateur historian, is to discover an item of genuine historical importance which challenges the accepted narrative.
“I am thrilled with the result of the sale but it’s not the price that’s important to me, it’s the story of Euan Lucie-Smith and black soldiers like him who – despite being largely overlooked – played an important part in our military heritage.
“I really hope my find inspires more people to explore the role played by British serviceman from all backgrounds to secure the freedoms that we enjoy today and often take for granted.
“I am very pleased that it has been bought by a museum and will now be seen by future generations.”
Christopher Mellor-Hill, associate director of Dix Noonan Webb, said, “This is a phenomenal result and very appropriate on the back of Black History Month in highlighting the role of black soldiers.
“We hope very much that this will help advance further the knowledge and respect of their role in British military history generally and not just World War One.”
Like Walter Tull – an English professional footballer and British Army officer of Afro-Caribbean descent – Mr Lucie-Smith hailed from a mixed heritage background. He was born in Jamaica on December 14 1889.
His father hailed from a line of distinguished white colonial civil servants while his mother was a daughter of the distinguished ‘coloured’ lawyer and politician Samuel Constantine Burke. Mr Burke campaigned for Jamaican constitutional reform in the late 19th century through his desire for Jamaica to have greater control over its own affairs.
Mr Lucie-Smith was educated in England - initially at Berkhamsted School before attending Eastbourne College.
Returning to Jamaica in 1911, he was commissioned into the Jamaica Artillery Militia.
Just six weeks after the outbreak of war, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the regular force of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment - even appearing in the supplement to the London Gazette in November 1914.
He landed in France on March 17 1915 and just over a month later, he was later confirmed to have been killed in action on April 25 1915 at the age of 25.
He has no known grave but is commemorated at the Ploegsteert memorial in Belgium, the Berkhamsted School memorial, and the Eastbourne College memorial.