HENRY WILKINSON, LONDON
A GOOD BRITISH INFANTRY OFFICER'S 1897 PATTERN SWORD, serial no. 52065, WITH ASSOCIATED 'DEATH PENNY',
World War One, with straight etched 32 1/2in. blade signed and proved by the maker, pierced nickel-plated half-basket with 'GRV' device, sharkskin bound grip with chequered backstrap and complete with its brown leather field scabbard, the 'death penny' bronze memorial plaque of usual form and marked to 'HOWELL CHARLES STEPHENS'
Provenance: The sword presented for sale here was the former property of 2nd. Lieutenant Stephens of the Worcs. Regt. who was lost at Ypres in 1917.
Lieutenant Howell Charles Stephens was the son of Mr. W. H. and Mrs. J. E. Stephens, of the Turf Club, Cairo, Egypt.. Born on the 20th April 1898, Howell was educated initially at Bedford School between September 1907 to March 1910 and then at Elizabeth College, Guernsey from 1912 to 1915. He entered military service where he was subsequently appointed to 2nd Lieutenant of the Worcestershire Regiment on the 19th July 1916. His military career was unfortunately cut prematurely short when he was killed in action on the 31st July 1917 during the Battles of Ypres, specifically the first phase of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (Source Worcestershire Regiment Roll of Honour 1914-1920 and 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment History 1917 page 7). He is permanently remembered on the Menin Gate under Ypres, Panel 34.
After the death of Howell Stephens his possessions were returned to his father, William Stephens,
who retained the sword and death penny until he died on 25th October 1962. William Stephens
chattels, including the sword and death penny, were left in his will to his sister Lillian Beatrice Birt
(nee Stephens), and they were collected from the nursing home where William Stephens died by
Lillian Birt's son, Raymond Noel Birt. In gratitude for the work done in execution of the will the
sword and death penny were given to Raymond Birt, who was a collector of arms and military
memorabilia. Raymond Birt kept the sword and death penny until he passed away on the 10th February
1997. The sword and death penny then passed to Raymond Birt's son, Adrian Graham Henry Birt, as
part of the chattels. Adrian Birt submitted the sword and death penny to Holts Auctioneers for sale by auction.
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