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Lot 33, 23 Sep 05
DescriptionThe unique Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie group of three to Major Thomas Studdert, Bombay Engineers, Executive Engineer at Kelat-i-Ghilzai, one of eight British officers present at the defence of that place in May 1842, and the only Engineer officer to receive the medal for Hyderabad 1843
(a) Defence of Kelat-I-Ghilzie 1842 (Lieutt. T. Studdert, Bombay Engineers) fitted with contemporary hinged silver bar suspension
(b) Ghuznee Cabul 1842 (Lieutt. T. Studdert, Bombay Engineers) fitted with contemporary hinged silver bar suspension
(c) Hyderabad 1843 (Lieutt. Thos. Studdert, Bombay Engineers), all three fitted with gold ribbon buckles and contained in an old fitted carrying case, minor edge bruising and knocks, otherwise better than very fine £12000-15000
FootnoteEx Dalrymple White collection 1946.
Thomas George Studdert, eldest son of George Studdert, Magistrate, of Dublin, and Letitia, daughter of the Very Reverend Stewart Blacker, of Carrick-Blacker, was born on 21 March 1821. He was educated at the Great Denmark Seminary, Dublin, Addiscombe and Chatham. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Bombay Engineers on 11 June 1830, and became Lieutenant on 20 August 1834. After a creditable period as an Assistant Engineer on various works in India, he was placed at the disposal of the ‘Envoy and Minister at Cabool’ and ordered to join the small force at Kelat-i-Ghilzai as Executive Engineer in September 1840.
Following the disastrous retreat of the British from Cabul in January 1842, Ghuznee was retaken by the Afghans, and the isolated garrison at Kelat-i-Ghilzai was invested. The garrison consisted of 600 of the Shah’s 3rd Infantry, three companies of the 43rd N.I., forty European Artillery, twenty-three Bombay Sappers and Miners, Lieutenant Studdert and seven other British officers, all under the command of Captain John Halket Craigie.
Inspite of ‘cold and privation unequalled by any of the troops in Afghanistan’, the garrison put up a successful defence through the whole winter till relieved in June 1842. The total strength of the garrison of Kelat-i-Ghilzai, situated about eighty miles north east of Candahar, was fifty-five Europeans and 877 natives. On 21 May 1842 the garrison repulsed a particularly determined attack by some 6,000 Afghans.
‘Khelat-i-Ghilzai was attacked at a quarter before four o’clock’, reported Craigie, ‘The enemy advanced to the assault in the most determined manner, each column consisting of upwards of 2,000 men, provided with 30 scaling ladders, but after an hour’s fighting were repulsed and driven down the hill, losing five standards, one of which was planted three times in one of the embrasures ... The greatest gallantry and coolness were displayed by every commissioned and non-commissioned officer, and private (both European and Native) engaged in meeting the attack of the enemy, several of whom were bayoneted on top of the sandbags forming our parapets ...’
Studdert and his comrades were finally relieved by Colonel G. P. Wymer operating out of Candahar during General Nott’s fluid defence. Studdert thereafter participated in Nott’s march to Cabul in September and the destruction of the great bazaar before withdrawing to India
In 1842-44 Studdert was with Major-General Sir Charles Napier’s 8,000-strong force, which annexed part of northern Scinde, as assistant to the Chief Engineer, Major Charles Waddington, Bombay Engineers. He became Captain on 9 October 1848, Major on 11 November 1853, and died in Dublin on 28 October 1855.
Refs: Hodson Index (NAM); The Military Engineer in India (Sandes); Sieges and Defences of Fortified Places, Royal Engineers Journal, Vol XX, 1914.