Hard times may have forced family to part with precious medals

KIRTON: Medals belonging to a brave Suffolk soldier who fought at and survived the carnage of one of history’s most famous battles will today come under the auctioneer’s hammer.

The silver medals were awarded after the Battle of Waterloo nearly 200 years ago – and the soldier who received them may have later been parted from his precious honours after falling on hard times.

Experts who have examined them say they are in “very fine” condition and have a pawnbroker’s mark, suggesting he or his family may have been forced to sell them to raise money to live on. Ironically, auctioneers Spink expect them to sell for around �5,500 in London.

Kirton-born Private James Dennett was awarded the 1815 Waterloo medal and the 1793-1814 Military General Service (MGS) medal.

He served in the cavalry regiment the 7th Light Dragoons, also known as the 7th Hussars, for 22 years from 1805 until 1827.

Altogether 47,000 men were either killed or wounded at Waterloo, the decisive battle between Britain and her allies, led by the Duke of Wellington, and France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Private Dennett was one of those lucky to survive the battle, but his MGS medal shows he also came through the Battles of Sahagun and Benevente – in Spain in December 1808 – and the Battle of Orthes in France in 1814, and the Battle of Toulouse in France in 1814.

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Local history recorder for Kirton, Len Lanigan, said parish records showed a James Dunnett was born February 11, 1784, and his parents John and Elizabeth lived in Kirton.

“It could very well be the same person – there are no records of Dennetts, but quite a few Dunnetts. It could be that someone later spelled the name wrong on his medal,” he said.”

The Dunnetts also had twins Charles and Anne, born two years later and lived in the village until their deaths, aged 82 and 89.

? Do you know anything of Private James Dennett? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk