An Extremely Rare & Important RMA Trio
INDIAN MUTINY MEDAL.
(LUCKNOW & RELIEF of LUCKNOW)
2nd CHINA WAR MEDAL
(TAKU FORTS 1860, PEKIN 1860)
(SEVERELY WOUNDED AT KAGOSHIMA)
("GUNSHOT WOUND" TO LEG)
Gunner WILLIAM (John) HARRIS.
ROYAL MARINE ARTILLERY.
HMS HANNIBAL(Baltic)..(On service record)
HMS BULLDOG (Baltic)..(On ship's medal roll) 'Lent from HANNIBAL"
HMS EXMOUTH (Baltic)..(On service record) "SWEABORG"
HMS MAGICIENNE (Baltic) "SWEABORG"
HMS Duke of Wellington (for Mortar Boats) (On service record)
HMS Russell (On service record)
HMS SHANNON (Mutiny) (On Service record)
HMS STROMBOLI (China) (His china medal was sent to this ship)
HMS COQUETTE (China and Japan) (On service record)
INDIAN MUTINY MEDAL
(Officially Impressed, with surname partially erased, but with rank "GUNr", his Initial 'Wm', his unit 'RMA', and his ship 'SHANNON' being all fully clear) , Please see main description below for full details, pictures and high quality drawings of both medals and naming.)
BALTIC MEDAL is all 100% OK ...and is all correctly and Fully Privately Named in Superb Original Victorian Running Script and Serifed Block Capital Style with detailed ornamentation between words.
As was often the case, it is thought that in late Victorian times when Harris was invalided out of the marines he fell on hard times in old age and sadly pawned his Mutiny medal (then worth 5 Shillings and 6 Pence) and part removed his name to save his embarrassment. Clearly he or someone later redeemed his medal and we here have a miracle surviving trio to a man who, who, during an astonishing career, took part in no less than three of The Royal Navy and Royal Marine Artillery's most famous Victorian actions.
In addition to the photographs, I have also drawn detailed pictures of the naming on both medals (see below) so you can better see and get a really good look at the naming situation on both medals. The Mutiny is the ONLY medal which has any erasure and even then it's a fully indentifiable medal to Wm Harris. The RED letters show the areas of missing naming with the small areas of BLACK showing traces of the surname HARRIS.
(Click on the drawings and the photos to show sharp enlargements)
This is one of those 'miracle' situations where (a) having long ago been split up and reunited, we are lucky the medals have survived at all, and (b) VERY lucky indeed the medals again stayed together as they almost became split yet again just before we purchased them, and (c) most importantly, because the Baltic Medal of this rare pair is 100% Ok, it fully proves the identity, total validity and attribution of the Mutiny Medal.
We are are now in possession of the full attestation and service papers of WILLAM HARRIS, from National Archives including a copy of his entry in the description book, and much further research is continuing into this fabulous trio of medals and the career of Gunner William Harris.
William (@ John) Harris was born in January-February 1833 at ABERYSTWITH (Wales) in the County of Cardigan. At age 19 years and 8 months and being of 5ft 9,3/4" he joined the Marines at Warwick on 12th October 1852 (for a total bounty of £3/17/-6d) with a partial bounty of Five Shillings and Six Pence (5/6d) being paid on the day of enlistment.
He was recruited by a Captain Rea.
He is described as previously being a Tailor and having Dark Brown Hair, Hazel Eyes and a Sallow Complexion
(further described in Red as being "Pock Pitted")
( He transfered to the R.M.Artillery on 15th Feb 1853 ).
His first period of service saw him in The Baltic campaign for which he received a Baltic Medal. This medal was always issued to the Navy and Marines un-named, but like many young sailors he had his medal privately engraved in a very attractive and decorative style.
He is listed on the medal roll as being in HMS BULLDOG (actually lent from HMS HANNIBAL for the Bomarsund Action) BULLDOG was famous during the Baltic campaign for the successful bombardment and surrender of the Russian Port of Bomarsund.
"In August, the fortress of Bomarsund, chief stronghold of the Aland Islands, was attacked, and its fall, after a bombardment lasting for three days, was the one decisive success of the Baltic expedition. William acted as flag-captain to Napier for the occasion, and he took a prominent part in the surrender. According to family tradition on August 16, he went on shore to answer the flag of truce which was hanging from the fort, and on his own responsibility and against the advice of the French officers, he then and there demanded the unconditional surrender of the fort. This was finally acceded to, and the Russian Commandant offered his sword to William, who however declined it, and took it to Admiral Napier. The Russian officers warned him that if he tried to run along the parapet to show the British flag to our fleet, he would be shot. He waved the flag from the parapet, and the fleet knew that Bomarsund had fallen".
He saw further service on several ships in the Baltic (Hannibal, Exmouth, Duke of Wellington and Russell,) The "REMARKS" section of his papers best describe major and important parts of his service.
"Enlisted for Limited Service, In Possession of 1 G.C.R. from 30th Mar,1853.
Produces certificates from HMS HANNIBAL marked "V.Good", RUSSELL "Good"
EXMOUTH "Good" SHANNON "Fair" & "Good" ---& COQUETTE "Good & V.Good".
---Served in Motar Boats at bombardment of SWEABORG --for which service he has the Baltic Medal . Served in India with the Marine Brigade & employed at Battles of Gwaliore RELIEF and CAPTURE OF LUCKNOW, RELIEF OF CAWNPORE---for which service he has the Indian Medal with "Relief of Lucknow" & "Lucknow" clasps--
William Harris is seen as a No.7 Company Gunner in HMS SHANNON who's famous Naval Brigade took part in the Relief of Lucknow in the Indian Mutiny. As part of the famous Shannon's Brigade (Captain Peel V.C.) He later fought under Sir Colin Campbell in November 1857 when Lucknow was famously and finally relieved by the massive efforts of the Naval Brigade's 8" cannons which were fired at ultra close range at the walls of the Secundra Bagh until breached.
His Service papers "REMARKS", continue: 'Served in operations in JAPAN & Severely Wounded in the action with the batteries at KAGOSHIMA on the 15th Aug 1863'.
(There were 2 men killed and 4 wouned in HMS Coquette during this action)
CASUALTIES IN HER MAJESTY'S SHIP COQUETTE (Extract from The Times)
Thomas Finn, gunner, Royal Marine Artillery, age 27, killed; compound fracture of pelvis.
Henry Gale, captain maintop, age 29, mortally (dead); compound fracture of upper third of right thigh.
D.A. Denny, lieutenant, age 20, dangerously; gunshot wound of left knee.
William Harris, gunner, Royal Marine Artillery, age 30; dangerously:
....gunshot wound of left leg.
William Mumford, private, R.M., age 35, severely; contused wound of right thigh.
William Vernon, boy, 1st class, age 17, slightly; contused wound of left side.
*(Clearly a shell from the Japanese batteries hit the deck and burst as all these injuries are 'waist down" traumas.)
Having been so badly wounded in Japan he is then next seen Hospitalised back in England adn soon being discharged.
His papers continue:
"Cause of Discharge of 7th Company, William Harris, Gunner, having been invalided at Haslar Hospital from Gunshot Wound of Leg Contracted "hi & hy"
(*Apparently a Victorian abbreviated medical term describing muscle contracture, a common situation after serious
leg muscle damage.)
The Service & HM Admiralty orders action 7th June 1864."
The desription book records his final discharge on 14th June 1864 "D" INVALIDED.
Fort Cumberland is a pentagonal artillery fortification erected to guard the entrance to Langstone Harbour, east of the naval port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. It was sited to protect the Royal Navy Dockyard, by preventing enemy forces from landing in Langstone Harbour and attacking from the landward side. Fort Cumberland is widely recognised as the finest example of a bastion trace fort in England. By the late 1850s, the development of rifled cannon had rendered the fort's smooth bored muzzle loading ordnance obsolete. In late 1858 the fort was transferred from the War Department to the Board of Admiralty and, in 1859 it became the headquarters of the Royal Marine Artillery. Between 1860 and 1861, the defences were improved to accommodate new muzzle loaded Armstrong guns.
He is also very likely to be the Wm Harris who is seen serving as a RMA Gunner in HMS MAGICIENNE during the Baltic Campaign and he also served in this ship during the 2nd CHINA WAR where he won his medal and two clasps.
TAKU FORTS 1860 & PEKIN 1860.
(un-named as issued, clasps lose on original ribbon)
He is listed on the roll as:
"Harris, William, Gunner, No.7"
(The same No.7 Company number as engraved on his Baltic Medal)
(The China Medal Roll under "Fort Cumberland" confirms that his China Medal was sent to 'CHINA / 44' in about October 1862 while he was still serving in HMS COQUETTE )
( William Harris served for a total of 11 years 247 days ! )
Presumably (still being able handed) he returned to his trade of Tailoring in the Aberystwith area and further research may well show more about his later life as he was only 31 years of age when he left the Royal Marine Artillery.
A MAGNIFICENT & RARE TRIO OF MEDALS,
which, like their recipient, have seen long and amazing service.
£2750 ( SOLD )