MAIWAND MEDAL NEWS

 

ANDY CHALONER

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Welcome to the first edition of the Last Stand’s Maiwand Medal News. In this section I aim to round up all the Afghanistan Campaign Medals awarded to units that took part in the battle of Maiwand that have appeared for auction or sale in the previous calendar year. Before we look at these sales, I would like to introduce the two medals that were awarded to troops who took part in the battle of Maiwand and the relief of Kandahar.

 

The Afghanistan 1878-80 Medal

This medal was awarded to all troops who served in the Second Afghanistan War 22nd November 1878 to the 26th May 1879 and the 3rd September 1879 to the 20thSeptember 1880. The medal is 36mm’s wide and is made of silver. It was authorised on the 19th March 1881 and was awarded to British and Indian armies. The obverse designed by J.E.H. Boehm shows the crowned draped head of Queen Victoria, adorned with earrings, necklace and pendant and wearing the ribbon and star of the Order of the Garter. The bust is surrounded by the legend “VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX”. The reverse designed by R. Caldecott shows Anglo-Indian troops marching, with an Officer riding in the foreground. In the centre is an elephant carrying a canon, whilst in the background is a mountain top fort. The word “AFGHANISTAN” is shown above, while in the exergue below is the date “1878-79-80”. The ribbon measures 32mm wide and is green with crimson edges.  A straight plain silver bar with a claw clip attachment suspends the medal. The name, rank, number and regiment of the recipient are engraved along the edge in capital letters. Those awarded to native troops are named in either capital letters or script. L.C. Wyon carried out the engraving. There were no clasps awarded for the battle of Maiwand however there was a clasp named Kandahar, this was awarded to who those served under Sir Frederick Roberts and engaged in the action on the 1st September 1880 and those who took part in the reconnaissance of the city on the 31st August 1880.

 

The Kabul to Kandahar Star

This medal was awarded to those who took part in General Roberts 310 mile march from Kabul to Kandahar to relieve the garrison between the 9th and 31stAugust 1880. Messrs H Jenkins and Sons, Birmingham manufactured the medal. The medal measures 60mm high and 45mm wide, it is made of bronze from the captured guns of Ayub Kahn’s army. It was authorised on the 19th March 1881 and was awarded to British and Indian armies. The ribbon is rainbow pattern red, white, yellow and blue.

The obverse is a 5-pointed star with a ball between all of the points except the top two.  In the centre is the raised monogram “VRI” surrounded by a raised circular border on which the lettering “Kabul to Kandahar” with date “1880” in the centre bottom.  Topping the star is a crown to which the ring for the suspension is attached. The reverse of the medal is plain except for the name, rank, number and regiment of the recipient around the hollow of the centre, with indented capital letters for the British and engraved capitals or sloping script for the Indian Troops.

 

 

 

Examples of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, with and without the clasp for Kandahar 

and the Kabul to Kandahar Star.

 

 

During 2008 there have been many Afghanistan Campaign Medals offered for sale in various auction houses and on Ebay. Certainly the highlight offered by the auction rooms was from Wellington Online Auctions (London) being the medal to Major Charles Valentine Oliver of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment.

Charles Valentine Oliver (left) was born in Ireland on 9th March 1836 and was one of five brothers who entered the Army within a short time of each other.

He was gazetted to the 66th Regiment, as Ensign in 1854. From January 1863 to June 1864 he was appointed as the provisional instructor of musketry for the 66th. A lifetime bachelor, Major Oliver was also fluent in Hindustani and French. Brevet Major from1st October 1877 and Major 24th February 1878.

Major Oliver marched with the regiment to Kandahar in February 1880 and was present at the battle of Maiwand and was one of the three officers who escaped with their lives. It is said that he and Lieutenant-General Burrows were the two last to leave the field.

There was a great deal of pain and distress suffered by Oliver’s family members when his name was confused with that of another officer with the same surname. The name Oliver was quoted in several English newspapers, in a list published by them, of the survivors of the battle who were the first to reach Kandahar, making it appear that he had ridden on ahead of his men. The officer who in fact arrived first was Veterinary Surgeon Oliver who was attached to E Battery B Brigade Royal Horse Artillery.

The fact was that telegraphic communications had been severed some hours before Major Oliver, with the remnant of his regiment, reached the city walls. He arrived in a state of great exhaustion from which he never recovered. Although Major Oliver suffered from ill-health and exhaustion during the siege of Kandahar, he nevertheless commanded all that was left of the 66th at the Battle of Kandahar on 1st September 1880 After the defeat of Ayub Khan's army, he continued in a low state of health and he subsequently succumbed to the disease smallpox, from which he eventually died of on 10th October1880.

Although it is not certain exactly where Major Oliver was buried, based on research, it is believed he was buried in a European graveyard in Kandahar that has since been concreted and a road built over.

Another Afghanistan 1878-80 campaign medal that appeared for sale in 2008 was at the other end of the rank spectrum and awarded to Private B/316 George Leader. He enlisted in 66th Foot in 1876, joining the regiment in India from England on the 7th December 1877.

 

 

 

 

George crossed the frontier with the regiment in February 1880. There is a strong possibility that he was at the Battle of Maiwand, as he is not entitled to the Kandahar clasp, therefore he is either one of the 159 Maiwand survivors or 76 soldiers garrisoned in Kandahar under Lt Edwards. The regiment marched from Kandahar on the 1st October, en route to India, arriving at Quetta on the 13th where it remained until the 27th. The regiment resumed its march arriving at Pir Chowkie on the 3rd November and proceeded from there to Karachi, on the 5th by rail. Unfortunately while at Pir Chowkie George succumbed to either wounds or disease and died on the 3rd November 1880. He is remembered on the Maiwand Memorial in the Forbury Gardens, Reading, Berkshire

 

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Private B/316 George Leader’s Afghanistan 1878-80 campaign medal

illustrating the engraved naming typical on medals issued to British regiments

THE FOLLOWING MEDALS WERE SOLD DURING 2008

66th  (Berkshire) Regiment

Name

Rank

Service Number

Medal

Clasp

Auction or Dealer

Estimate Price

Hammer Price

Notes

Charles Valentine Oliver

Major

N/A

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Wellington Online Auctions, London

£2500 - £3000

£6,200

Maiwand Survivor Died at Kandahar

William Milsome

Corporal

1643

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Chelsea Military Antiques, London

£2,000

£2,000

Killed in action at Maiwand

Enoch Morecroft

Band Corporal

B/677

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£1,400

£1,800

Killed in action at Maiwand

Alfred Basden

Private

B/1310

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Dixon's Medals, Bridlington

£2,650

£2,400

Killed in action at Maiwand

James Bennett

Private

B/157

Afghanistan Campaign

Kandahar

Bosleys, Buckinghamshire

£180 - £220

£300

With detachment at Khelat-I-Ghilzai entitled to Kabul to Kandahar Star

 John Cawte

Private

1669

Afghanistan Campaign

Kandahar

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£250 - £300

£290

 

William Coleman

Private

1100

Afghanistan Campaign

Kandahar

Historik Orders, USA

$895

$895

With detachment at Khelat-I-Ghilzai entitled to Kabul to Kandahar Star

John Gibbs

Private

B/634

Afghanistan Campaign,  Kabul to Kandahar Star, Egypt 1882-89 & Khedive Star

Kandahar

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£600 - £700

£1,000

With detachment at Khelat-I-Ghilzai

John Hoare

Private

B/1413

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Historik Orders, USA

£2,658

£2,658

Killed in action at Maiwand

William Jackson

Private

B/607

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£1400 - £1800

£1,900

Killed in action at Maiwand

Richard King

Private

1060

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Historik Orders, USA

£420

£420

Served in the Smooth Bore Battery at Maiwand

George Leader

Private

B/316

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Dixon's Medals, Bridlington

£550

£550

Maiwand Survivor Died at Pir Chowkie

 

 

 

 

Royal Horse Artillery (E Battery B Brigade)

Name

Rank

Service Number

Medal

Clasp

Auction or seller details

Estimate price

Hammer price

Notes

F J Naylor

Gunner

3493

Afghanistan Campaign

Kandahar

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£3000 - £3500

£5,200

Maiwand Survivor

 

 

 

 

1st Regiment Bombay Native Infantry (Grenadiers)

Name

Rank

Service Number

Medal

Clasp

Auction or seller details

Estimate price

Hammer price

Notes

Frank Whittuck

Lieutenant

N/A

Afghanistan Campaign

None

Dix, Noonan & Webb, London

£360 - £400

£2,000

Died of Disease at Kandahar

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

Photograph of Major Charles Valentine Oliver reproduced by kind permission of The Curator, The Rifles (Berkshire & Wiltshire) Museum, Salisbury.

Medal auction results reproduced by kind permission of Richard Stacpoole-Ryding’s Medal Tracker.

Medal images reproduced by kind permission of a Private Collector.

 

 

Note:

The Maiwand Medal Tracker is an on going project to list the medals issued to those officers, NCOs and men who served in the various units at the battle of Maiwand. The tracker is published in January and June of each year and is available free to subscribers. If you wish to subscribe to this service then please send your email address to stacpoole.r@googlemail.com stating which regiments tracker you would like to receive

 

The tracker for the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment is also available for viewing on the North East Medals website www.northeastmedals.co.uk and follow the links Medals of the Regiments and then click on to the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Royal Berkshire Regiment.

 

 

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