Orders, Decorations and Medals (4 & 5 December 2008)

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Date of Auction: 4th & 5th December 2008

Sold for £15,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

The important Umbeyla C.B. group of seven awarded to Surgeon-General William Munro, M.D., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Surgeon of the 93rd’s ‘Thin Red Line’ at Balaklava, throughout the Indian Mutiny, and Principal Medical Officer with the Umbeyla Field Force - He was the author of two substantial memoirs relating to his extensive military service

The Most Honourable Order of The Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 18 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1860, complete with swivel-ring suspension and gold ribbon buckle; South Africa 1834-53 (Asst. Surgn. W. Munro, 91st Regt.); Crimea 1854-56, 3 clasps, Alma, Balaklava, Sebastopol (Surgn. Wm. Munro, M.D. 93d Foot) contemporary engraved naming in the style of Hunt & Roskell; Indian Mutiny 1857-59, 2 clasps, Relief of Lucknow, Lucknow (Surgn. W. Munro, M.D. 93rd Highlanders); India General Service 1854-95, 1 clasp, Umbeyla (Surgn. W. Munro, H.M. 93rd Highrs.); Order of the Medjidie, 5th Class breast badge, silver, gold and enamels, fitted with silver ribbon buckle; Turkish Crimea, British issue, fitted with Crimea suspension, the whole group contained in a fine contemporary fitted case by W. Dresden, Watchmaker & Jeweller, Kensington, with glass cover and double hinged lid, light contact marks, otherwise good very fine or better (7) £6000-8000

Footnote

William Munro was born on 30 November 1822, the second son of Inspector-General William Munro, of the Army Medical Department, and was educated at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, graduating in the latter in 1844. From Glasgow he also received the degree of LL.D. in 1888. He entered the Army Medical Service in 1844, and served as Assistant-Surgeon in the 91st Highlanders during the Kaffir war of 1846-47 (Medal). During the Crimean war he was Surgeon of the 93rd Highlanders, and formed part of the "thin red line" in the glorious stand made by the regiment at Balaklava, as well as the battle of Alma and siege of Sebastopol (Medal with three Clasps, 5th Class of the Medjidie, and Turkish Medal). With the same corps he took part in the relief of Lucknow by Lord Clyde, the battle of Cawnpore on 6 December 1857 and pursuit, action near Futtehghur, siege and fall of Lucknow, campaign in Rohilcund and attack on Fort Rugia, actions at Allygunge and Bareilly, campaign in Oude and actions of Posgaon and Russelpore, and attack on Fort Methoulie (Medal with two Clasps). He was removed from his regiment to act as Principal Medical Officer of the combined European and Native Euzufzai Field Force during the final operations in the Umbeyla Pass in December 1863, including the actions of the Crag Picket (mentioned in despatches, C.B., received the thanks of the Governor General in Council, Medal with Clasp).

He was Surgeon-General at headquarters under Sir William Muir (I874-81), and would probably have succeeded that officer as Director-General had he not retired through age. He was an admirable representative of the old regimental surgeon, and was a supreme favourite in his regiments. But it fell to his part to largely inaugurate the unification system, which he carried out with great loyalty, notwithstanding old regimental proclivities. He was unquestionably a most able administrator, and a master of detail. His labour connected with the new system in the medical department, while at headquarters, was enormous, especially in the elaboration of a new code of regulations which then became necessary. Those who worked with him in those days learned to appreciate his high ability and worth, as well as his great kindness and consideration. Doctor Munro was the author of two books connected with his reminiscences in the 93rd Highlanders, Reminiscences of Military Service with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, Hurst & Blacket, 2 vols. London 1883; and Records of Service and Campaigning in Many Lands, Hurst & Blackett, London 1887. Surgeon-General Willlim Munro died at Kensington on 30 October 1896.