Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to coincide with the OMRS Convention (20 September 2002)

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Date of Auction: 20th September 2002

Sold for £680

Estimate: £500 - £600

The Sutlej medal awarded to Major-General T. F. Forster, Bengal Army, who served as a Volunteer at the battle of Aliwal with the Shekhawattee Brigade, raised and commanded by his father

Sutlej 1845-46, for Aliwal 1846 (Mr. T. F. Forster, Shekhawattee Brig.) fitted with silver ribbon brooch, edge bruise, otherwise good very fine £500-600


Thomas Francis Forster was born into this well known Anglo Indian family at Saugor on 16 September 1825. To his grandfather, Henry Pitts Forster, belongs the credit of publishing the first English work of lexicography for the Bengali language, as a result of which Bengali subsequently became the official language of the Presidency and the most prolific literary language of India. His father, Henry Forster, had a distinguished career and died in 1862 as a Colonel with a C.B., having raised the Shekhawattee Brigade in 1835 which served with great distinction in the Sutlej campaign and in the Indian Mutiny. Henry Forster’s first wife, Thomas’s mother, was killed at Delhi in May 1857, after which Henry Forster married Nina, an Indian.

Thomas Forster received a classical education at the Parental Academic Institution in India, and was nominated for a Cadetship in the H.E.I.C. by Henry Alexander, a Director of the Company, on the recommendation of his father. His papers were examined and passed at Leadenhall Street on 3 December 1845.

Forster was appointed an Ensign in the Bengal Presidency Army on 13 December 1845. Meantime, however, he had volunteered to serve with his father’s Shekhawattee Brigade in the Sutlej campaign and was present at the battle of Aliwal on 28 January 1846. It is noticeable that this battle took place some 7 weeks after he was examined and passed by the H.E.I.C. in London, but in fact he was personally examined and he signed his Cadet papers at Simla on 21 April 1846, by then being a battle veteran.

He was appointed an Ensign in the 39th Bengal Native Infantry on 11 August 1846, and was promoted Lieutenant in that regiment on 28 November 1849. During the 1850’s he served with the Shekhawattee Brigade, still commanded by his father and with his eldest brother, Captain W. R. Forster, as Second-in-Command. He himself was appointed Adjutant of the Brigade on 3 March 1854. It is remarkable to note that another of his brothers, Henry Pitts Forster, who had died in 1850, had also served with the Shekhawattee Brigade at the battle of Aliwal, as had his eldest brother, William Robert Forster.

On 15 December 1855, Thomas Forster was appointed an Assistant Commissioner in the Punjab, and on 15 April 1859 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner 2nd Class. He served the remainder of his time in this service and was promoted Brevet Captain on 13 December 1860. He was appointed a Captain in the Staff Corps on 18 February 1861, and a Captain on the Cadre of Officers of the late 39th N.I. on 11 January 1864, becoming Major in the Staff Corps in December 1865, and Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1871. By 1877 he was Deputy Commissioner 2nd Class at Hissar, subsequently becoming a Deputy Commissioner 1st Class. He was promoted Brevet Colonel on 13 December 1876 and retired on full-pay on 26 September 1880, being granted a step in honorary rank to Major-General at the same time. Major-General T. F. Forster died at his home in Gloucester Gardens, Hyde Park, on 20 February 1906, aged 80. Sold with a considerable amount of research on the Forster family and the Shekhawattee Brigade which ultimately became the 13th Rajputs.