Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to include a Fine Collection of Napoleonic Medals (25 March 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 2015

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £3,500 - £4,000

A rare Lake Nyassa group of five awarded to Ship’s Corporal E. Toleman, Royal Navy

East and West Africa 1887-1900, 1 clasp, Lake Nyassa 1893 (E. Toleman, A.B., H.M.S. Adventure.); 1914-15 Star (147434. E. Tolman, Sh. Cpl., R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (147434. E. Toleman, Sh. Cpl. R.N.); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., E.VII.R (Elias Toleman, Sh. Corpl. 1Cl. H.M.S. Tamar) mounted as worn, nearly very fine or better and very rare (5) £3500-4000


Twenty nine clasps only were issued for this expedition against Chief Makanjira in Central Africa, all to Royal Navy personnel serving aboard H.M. Ships Adventure (12) and Pioneer (17).

These ships were built at Jarrow-on-Tyne, sent out to Africa in sections, and hauled over two hundred miles through virgin country and jungle to the edge of the lake where they were assembled. This remarkable undertaking, reflected in the appropriate names given to the ships, was in many ways the precursor, or even the inspiration, of the Naval Expedition to Lake Tanganyika in 1915.

Magor states of their part in the expedition, following the commencement of operations against the rebel chief Makanjira:

Pioneer and H.M.S. Adventure then took part in a combined operation against Makanjira’s mother, Kalunda, a slave trading chieftainess, who with her warriors was shelled out of her village at Rifu Bay. Makanjira sent a dhow to rescue his mother but this was sunk by the Pioneer.’

Elias Toleman was born at Loden, Dorset, on 26 September 1872, and entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on his eighteenth birthday. He served in the training ship
Boscawen where he was promoted the same year to Boy 1st Class and then Ordinary Seaman. He became an Able Seaman in 1891 and served with that rating in the Duke of Wellington, Active, Volage, Victory and the gunnery school Excellent until 1892, when he transferred to Raleigh. From there he was appointed in 1893 to the small gunboat Adventure and was one of only 12 recipients of that vessel to receive the rare clasp for ‘Lake Nyassa 1893’. Toleman then served aboard the battleships Alexandra, Trafalgar,and Royal Sovereign before joining Fire Queen in 1903. He was transferred to the Hong Kong base Tamar in 1903 and in 1905 received his L.S. & G.C. medal. Pensioned to Shore in September 1912, Toleman enrolled into the Portsmouth Royal Fleet Reserve on 19 April 1913. He served aboard the armed merchant cruiser Kinfauns Castle from 2 August 1914 until 30 August 1915, when he was invalided with chronic rheumatism. Sold with copied service papers.