Medals honouring the exceptional medical abilities of Doctor Wordsworth Poole at the Siege of Pekin will be among lots offered at the Bonhams Coins and Medals sale in Knightsbridge, London on October 16th.
The impressive C. M. G. set of four medals awarded to Doctor Poole, Principal Medical officer in Central Africa and Physician to the British Legation at Pekin, remain in very fine condition and are estimated to sell for a value between £10,000 and £15,000. The medals will be sold with detailed research and a copy of 'Doctor on Lake Nyasa', Poole's Journal and Letters (1895-1897).
Poole began his clinical training at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, and completed it at Guy's Hospital, qualifying as an M.B. and B.Ch. He jotted:
'There was a young Cambridge M.B.
Said I won't be a Cambridge G.P.
But to Africa's shore I'll stick ever more
And now he's a K.C.M.G.'
Poole's work in Africa began on 5 January 1895, when he joined the Administration of the British Central Africa Protectorate in Nyasaland; by October he had been promoted to Principal Medical Officer on the recommendation of the Commissioner, Sir Harry Johnston, who said, "he has shown himself to be a most capable man and he can stand the climate and likes the country". By the time Poole left, almost the entire country was under British rule and the practice of slavery had virtually ceased. During his leave, he was nominated as Principal Medical Officer to the forces on the Niger Expedition under Colonel (later Lord) Lugard, and having served for 18 months with the West Africa Field Force, he was made a C.M.G.
Poole became Physician to the British Legation during the Siege of Pekin, treating the wounded in the International Hospital housed in the Chancery. The Siege came to an end, and shortly after the arrival of the relief force Poole succumbed to jaundice and fever. Despite the wide recognition of his services—the French had offered him the Legion of Honour, and the Graphic paid tribute to his power of "making the best" of conditions—he became mentally depressed, contracted typhoid in December 1901, and died on 9 January 1902.
The medals of Dr. Wordsworth Poole that will be on offer at the October sale include: The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion's breast badge, in gold and enamel; the Central Africa Medal 1891-98, one bar, Central Africa 1894-98, engraved (Wordsworth Poole P.M.O); the East and West Africa 1887-1900, one bar, 1897-98, impressed (Dr. Wordsworth Poole. W.A.F.F.); and the China 1900, one bar, Defence of Legations, engraved (Wordsworth Poole. M.B. C.M.G. Legation).
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
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