Orders, Decorations and Medals (19 & 20 March 2008)

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th March 2008

Sold for £1,600

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,200

Military General Service 1793-1814, 2 clasps, Maida, Java (J. McAuley, 78th Foot) occasional edge knocks and contact marks, nearly very fine £1000-1200


Ex Glendining’s, May 1926.

Just 18 Military General Service 1793-1814 Medals were issued with this clasp combination, all of them to the 1st Battalion, 78th Foot, and of these four are known to have survived.

John McAuley (or McAully) was from Uig, Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides.

The battle of Maida was fought on 4 July 1806, in Calabria, Southern Italy and resulted in a heavy defeat for the French whose loss was estimated at some 2000. British casualties were significantly lighter, with the 78th and 81st bearing the brunt.

In April 1811, the 78th left Madras for Java with a strength of 1027 men, comprising ‘835 Highlanders, 184 Lowlanders and 8 Irish or English’, all of whom were actively engaged in the operations on the Island between 14th -26th August. Indeed there was considerable fighting against the Franco-Dutch forces and the final assault, made at the point of the bayonet on the morning of 26 August, on a force of some 20,000 of the enemy in entrenched positions, carried all before it - they were completely overthrown and about 1,700 prisoners taken. However, the attackers lost 154 killed and 786 wounded during these operations, 164 of them from the ranks of the 78th, and including John McAuley, whose discharge papers state he was suffering from a ‘diseased jaw from a wound received in action in Java’ (WO 97/887 refers).

Having been discharged in May 1813, McAuley went before a Chelsea board for assessment for an out pension in June 1814, his total service being stated as 11 years 10 months, evidently including some time with the Fencibles, and his complaint a ‘wounded jaw at Java’. He was duly awarded a pension of 9d. a day (WO 120/28 refers) and died in Glasgow on 3 October 1869.