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20th May 2003John Chard's VC
By Brian Damerell
I expect this has been discussed many times...but I've only just found this superb site.
Is there any official conclusion as to the whereabouts of Chard's VC. The people at the Royal Engineer's Museum in Gillingham don't know but have allowed me to search through lots of material in their archives. (Thanks Beverley). I think there is a strong possiblity that it is buried with in Somerset.
20th May 2003Ian Woodason
As I understand it the 'copy' that Stanley Baker bought has been analysed and found to be the original - this was covered in the press at the time and I copied the following from the web - but the page has since gone -

"Re John Chard's VC and South Africa Medal - the Editor's Comment on p.3 of Medal News August 1996 has a write up about the Chard VC.

Stanley Baker fought it out with John Hayward in an auction battle in 1972, and managed to outbid him and take possession of the prized medals for the princely sum of 2,700 pounds - a particularly high premium on account of the then 'suspect' nature of the VC itself. The medal was put up for auction at that time, reportedly by the Chard family (though it has been otherwise documented that the medal was lost to them following John Chard's death in 1897 ??) who, believing the Cross to be genuine showed it to 'the highest authority' in the land sometime prior to the sale. Whatever examination followed led to the VC being catalogued as a 'cast copy'. Hence, it was not the VC that realised this extraordinary price, but the South Africa Medal. The VC merely served as an incidental extra, an added curiosity.

Anyway, it would appear the two medals have remained together, and they returned to the market in the mid 1970s, then passing to an overseas collector who, in turn, sold them to a fellow collector (the present owner).
The article goes on to state that the current owner was privvy to scientific techniques used at the Royal Armouries to analyse the metal used and so determine whether it was consistent with that used for other Crosses of the same period. He had it examined in 1985 with the resultant findings that the Cross and its suspender bar were indeed consistent. No mention of any irregularities were made in the report.

Further to this, when the Robert Jones VC came up for sale in 1988, it too was compared by the Royal Armouries, with the Chard Cross, again resulting in the conclusion that both VCs were shown to be made from the original block of metal. They concurred that the Chard VC also looked like a Cross from the period. It would appear that further conclusive tests have yet to be made.

The Chard medals are currently held temporarily on behalf of the owner by Spink & Son Ltd, but Spink revealed there are no plans in the forseeable future to sell the medals."

If someone has the relevant copy of Medal News this might help.

The medal has been on show at a few Anglo Zulu War meetings over the last two or three years.

The idea that it was buried with him, though romantic, is unfounded. Although I recently found that an Anglo Zulu War veteran was buried (in the 1930s) with two of his prized knobkerrie souvenirs!

Ian Woodason
20th May 2003Gary Laliberty
Hi Brian,
If you use the 'Links' page on the Left of this page. And go to the link the saids "Victoria Cross Reference", and go to that Web site. Find 'John Chard' name and click on it, and look for further information. You will find more information on what you are looking for, about his VC. Hope this has helped you.

21st May 2003David Bluestein
I will not disclose names, but will assure you that I know the "overseas" collector who owned the Chard VC. I held it in my hand, and was very aware of its home for the last 15-20 years. This collector and close friend had one of the largest Zulu War collections, probably in North America. His collection included many service medals attributed to fallen officer of Isandlwana, and countless O.r's. It includes also some defenders of RD and the Chard VC and service medal. (Not to mention a VC collection of other era's that would make a museum blush.)

My friend purchased the Chard medals from the Stanley Baker estate after his death. It remained here in Canada until he sold it quietly back to a dealer or collector in the UK a year or two ago approx.

David Bluestein
Richmond Hill, Ontario
21st May 2003Clive Dickens
My personal opinion is that ALL medals awarded for valour should go to the Regimental museum when the holder passes on. NOT to some collector.
21st May 2003David Bluestein
The market place is filled with many hundreds and thousands of medals commemorating soldiers from Waterloo to the Battle Of Britain. Medals are sold onto an OPEN market by owners, who are family, collectors, dealers etc. It is then UP TO the museum to actively pursue the pieces they want, and OUT bid "some collector".
22nd May 2003Clive Dickens
I agree there are numerous medals for sale, but the campaign medals do not concern me, I am refering to medals of valour such as the VC,MC.DCM.&MM these should go to the regimental museums of the regiment the soldier served at the time of the award and may I remind you that the majority of regimemtal museums rely on voluntry contribution and entrance fee's and cannot always find the money to bid for medals. nothing or no one will alter my views on this , medals of valour belong to the regiment not some wealthy collector
22nd May 2003David Bluestein
Wouldn't want to change your mind. Museum's have an important role. I do agree that VC's as celebrated as Chard would be better served in the public domain. However as a collector of medals and decorations for 25+ years I will choose to agree to disagree that EVERY decoration belongs in a museum. I'm not sure if you are aware of how many hundreds of thousands of decorations are on today's market? I'm certain that a regimental museum will not have the space nor the desire to have all 3500+ MM's awarded to its members in the Great War? Not to mention DCM's and other decorations. What about regiments that don't have museum's, or ones that don't exist as a unit anymore?? (And further, what person is willing to donate a collection with a lifetime investment value that may reach into the millions of dollars? It sure wont be me.) The value of my collection is not weighed only by a dollar figure, but as important memorials to the soldiers they commemorate. I'm only the temporary custodians of my medals; they will some day find their way back into the market place, for better or worse. I always hope they will find a good home. I am greatly privileged, and care for my medals in a place of honor and dignity.
24th May 2003richard
first point, all british regimental museums get a grant from the ministry of defence. on a second point, when someone who has been knighted dies their orders of chivalry must be returned to the lord chamberlains office. but when a holder of a decoration for gallantry dies the next of kin are allowed to keep his or her decorations. personally i think decorations for gallantry should be displayed in local museums not necessarily in regimental museums.
2nd June 2003Brian Damerell
Well, this site certainly has a wealth of expertise to draw upon. I have just returned from the Isle of Wight to find that while I was away the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham have had a week-long event covering the Zulu war. How's that for bad timing?
To those of you who have replied to my original query, many, many thanks for your time spent in writing. You have given me a lot of food for thought. I will be back again, if that's OK with the rest of you!!