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First and Second World War Sporting Guns for Auction at Bonhams

Bonhams next sale of Sporting Guns on December 4th at Knightsbridge features a selection of guns once owned by leading establishment and military figures well known during the WW1 and WW2 period.

Lot 192, a fine 12-bore single-trigger over-and-under sidelock ejector gun by J. Woodward and Sons, estimated to sell for £18,000-25,000 was made in 1920 for Sir Philip Sassoon BT, a member of the prominent Rothschild family. Sir Philip, 3rd Baronet (1888-1939) was an army officer, politician and a cousin to the war poet Seigfried Sassoon.

His numerous social and political connections led to his attendance at Chateau Demont in December of 1914, where King George V, Edward Prince of Wales, Raymond Poincaré, the French President, and various allied Generals met to discuss war on Germany. When war was declared he served as Private Secretary to Field Marshal Haig for the duration of the war. Sir Philip also acted as Member of Parliament for Hythe and was Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Lloyd George in 1920. He twice served as Under-Secretary of State for Air (1924-1929 and 1931-1937), during which time he was also Chairman of the Trustees of the National Gallery. He then held the position of First Commissioner of Works until his death in 1939.

Lot 89, is a fine .303 sidelock ejector rifle by J. Rigby & Co., estimated to sell for
£12,000-16,000, was completed in 1904 for Viscount Castlereagh. Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry (1878 – 1949) – Lord Steward until 1884 and Viscount Castlereagh between 1884 and 1915. During the First World War he witnessed the horror of the Battle of the Somme and also took part in a number of the last cavalry charges for the British Army, of which his battalion, the Royal Horse Guards, unsurprisingly took heavy casualties.

He is best remembered for his tenure as Secretary of State for Air in the 1930’s, where on multiple occasions visited Germany and met Hitler and his cabinet to discuss Germany’s position in Europe. Hitler was an admirer of Viscount Castlereagh and famously confided in him his intended plans for both Czechoslovakia and Poland years in advance of the invasions.

He published many books, one of which ‘Ourselves and Germany’ was a reaction to the attacks he sustained from inside and outside of Westminster regarding his links with the Appeasement Policy towards Nazi Germany.

Lot 40, a fine Wilkinson retailed .455 Webley Fosbery patent Model 1903 ‘Small Grip’ recoil-operated revolver, estimated at £4,000-5,000, was the personal weapon of Major-General Colwyn Henry Hughes Vulliamy DSO (1894-1972) who entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1912 and joined the 2 Divisional Signal Company in August 1914. He was returned home wounded the following February, promoted to full Lieutenant four months later and sent to 18 Divisional Signal Company in July 1915, serving for most of the remainder of the war in France.

Promoted Acting Captain in 1916, he received a further promotion to Acting Major… in Germany in December 1918. Following his distinguished wartime career, Vulliamy returned to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham in mid 1919 before being posted to India in 1921, joining the 3rd Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners at Kirkee before forming and commanding 2 Wireless Company, B Corps Signals at Rawalpindi. Transferring to the Royal Corps of Signals in 1926, he was promoted to Major the following year before attending the military Staff College at Quetta and being appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Indian Divisional Signals and promoted to Lt. Colonel.

After a spell in England serving as a General Service Officer at the War Office, he left for India once again in 1935 to command the “A” Corps Signals at Rawalpindi. Further service in the 1937 campaign on the North West Frontier resulted in the award of his D.S.O.