Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Military memorabilia of war hero revealed after 60 years

Military memorabilia of war hero revealed after 60 years

WAR memorabilia belonging to an army officer from Shiplake have been sold at auction.

Colonel Thomas Pragnell served in both world wars and was awarded a military CBE in January 1945.

He lived at Red House in Shiplake, which is now part of Shiplake College, and members of his family still live in the area.

A trunk full of his belongings were sold online for a total of £9,500 by Dawsons Auctioneers & Valuers last month.

Each item had been wrapped in newspaper dated 1958 — a year after his death — and the tin trunk had not been opened since then.

It had a brass plate engraved with the words “T W Pragnell 4th Hussars” and contained a photograph of Col Pragnell.

Inside was a collection of his war medals, cavalry dress swords and full dress uniform. These sold for £5,900.

His medals included the Distinguished Service Order, 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

There were two George V officer’s cavalry dress swords, each with a wire-bound fish skin grip and curved metal guard. A George V presentation statue of a cavalry officer on horseback was sold separately for £3,600. This had been given to Col Pragnell by officers of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars when he married Ida Goulding.

Ben Haynes, chairman of Dawsons, said: “As I unpacked and examined layer after layer of items, I realised that this was something very special — a complete, untouched collection of a soldier’s personal military equipment.

“The smell of the leather, the rubbing on the boots from riding, the spurs with their worn rowels.

“Once it was all laid out, I admit I got a bit emotional. This man rode a horse into conflict against machine guns, artillery shells, barbed wire and tanks and survived.”

Col Pragnell was born in London in 1881 and joined the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars in 1900.

This was a cavalry regiment in the army, which saw service in both world wars.

It was merged with the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1958 to form the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars.

Col Pragnell was a captain by the beginning of the Great War and had been promoted to the rank of major by the end of the conflict.

After the war, he remained in the army and served in southern Africa. During the Second World War, he was assistant military secretary for Western Command and was awarded a military CBE.

The regiment was posted to the Middle East, arriving on December 31, 1940.

Six months later, the regiment was reformed in Cairo and joined the 1st Armoured Brigade in the North African Campaign.

Col Pragnell had a keen interest in military history and took over the editorship of A Short History of the Queen’s Own 4th Hussars.

He was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed all kinds of equestrian competition and sports.

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