WWI Western Front DSO group to Maj Gen H.K. Bethell the youngest British Divisional Commander of the 20th century

2nd Lieutenant Hugh Keppel Bethell was seconded for service with the Indian Army from the Royal Garrison Artillery on 20th March 1904. He was promoted to Captain while serving with 7th Gurkha Rifles on 24th December 1911. He returned from service with the Indian Army and joined the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars on the 14th February 1914. He spent WWI on the Western Front, promoted to Temp Major while commanding 1st Northamptons on the 16th December 1915, Temp Lt Col on the 3rd June 1916, Temp Brig Gen commanding 74th Brigade on the 16th October 1916, CMG awarded 3rd June 1918, Temp Major General commanding 66th Divison in 1918 making him the youngest British Divisional Commander of the 20th century, CB awarded 1918/19.

The award of the DSO while a Temp Brigadier General was announced in the London Gazette dated 26th September 1917:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst commanding an attack upon a hostile position. It was a very hard fight, and it was due to his fine leadership that the attack was a complete success. By his energy and personal example he very greatly inspired all ranks of his brigade.”

The 74th Brigade were heavily involved in 1917 in the Battles of Messines and Pilkem Ridge near Ypres and the DSO is likely to be awarded for one of these actions.

After the war he was appointed Military Attache to Washington 1919-23, awarded the MVO 1st December 1919, Commander 2nd Rhine Brigade BAOR 1924-28, Brigadier Northern Command India 1928-30, Commander Presidency and Assam District 1930-34, placed on half pay 30 Dec 1934 and died in 1947.

The full size medal details are WWI Distinguished Service Order, 1914-15 star trio with MID oak leaf, 1911 Delhi Durbar Medal, 1935 Jubilee Medal, US Distinguished Service Medal, French 1914-17 Croix de Guerre with palm leaf, Italian War Merit Cross and Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm leaf to Maj Gen H.K. Bethell (Capt on star).The miniature group consists of CB, CMG and MVO plus the above listed full size medals.

The group realised £3,335 in our auction on Wednesday 16th June 2010.

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