Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 May 2016)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th May 2016

Sold for £3,400

Estimate: £3,000 - £3,600

A rare Scinde War C.B. pair awarded to Colonel W. T. Whitlie, Bombay Artillery

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1816, fitted with narrow gold swivel-ring suspension and gold ribbon buckle, some enamel loss to wreaths; Meeanee Hyderabad 1843 (Captn. W. T. Whitlie. 2nd Battn. Arty.) fitted with silver clip and bar suspension, reverse with light pitting, nearly very fine, obverse good very fine (2) £3000-3600


William Thomas Whitlie was born in Essex in January 1806. He attended the East India Company Military Seminary at Addiscombe in 1819 and passed out in 1821. He was gazetted to the Bombay Artillery in the rank of Second Lieutenant on 9 January 1821, and was promoted Lieutenant on the following day. He arrived in India in 1821 and the following year was appointed Quartermaster and Interpreter to the 1st Battalion, Bombay Foot Artillery. On the raising of the Golundauze (or Native) Battalion of Artillery in 1826, he was appointed Battalion Adjutant, and in 1827 he was in the Kolapoor Field Force.

In 1836 he was made Brevet Captain and appointed a member of the Committee to establish uniformity in Field Artillery equipment of the artillery regiments of the three Presidencies. The Committee first sat at Government House, Calcutta, on 6 June 1836 and was composed of the following officers - Colonel W. S. Whish, C.B., Bengal, President; Lieutenant-Colonel T. Stevenson, Bombay; Major J. Tennant, Bengal; Major G. Conran, Madras; Captain R.S. Seton, Madras; Captain W. T. Whitlie, Bombay, with Captain J. Cartwright, Bengal, as Secretary. Major C. Graham, Bengal, later became a member in place of Colonel Whish, whose role as President was taken up by Lieutenant-Colonel T. Stevenson. The Committee sat until 1838 and its report and minutes were considered valuable, though not all the recommendations had been implemented before the outbreak of the Afghan War. A particular recommendation had been the replacement of bullock draught by horses for all Field Batteries.

In 1837 Whitlie was appointed Interpreter to the Horse Brigade, Artillery, and on 8 September of that year Adjutant and Quartermaster of the 2nd Troop, Horse Artillery, which post he held until promoted to Captain on 30 September 1839. Early in 1840 he took command of 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, Foot Artillery, from Major John Lloyd, recently promoted. The Battery was equipped with six 24-pounder Howitzers and had only recently had its bullocks replaced by horses. It had been in Afghanistan for the 1839 campaign and had returned to Scinde under Major-General Willshire late in the year. It was employed in the Scinde during the years 1840 to 1842, and during this time the draught was changed from horses to camels.

Early in 1843, the Battery, as part of a force under Major-General C. J. Napier, moved south from Sukkur along the River Indus with the purpose of bringing the Amirs of Scinde to terms. The only other artillery was the 3rd Company Golundauze (Captain Hutt). It is possible that Captain Whitlie’s Battery provided the two Howitzers that accompanied a small force which destroyed the desert force of Imamgarh.

The first engagement with the Amirs’ forces took place at the battle of Meeanee on 17 February, the enemy being placed in the dry bed of the River Fulchi, about eight miles from Hyderabad. The two Batteries were almost at the right of the British line which advanced to the bank of the river. The guns were brought up in successive stages, though at first there was only a frontage of four guns on the bank. This was eventually increased until, all twelve guns of the two Batteries were in action. Shaken by the artillery fire, the charges of the cavalry on the left flank and the steadiness of the infantry on the river bank, the enemy eventually dispersed. The strength of the Battery on that day was two combatant officers, 73 European rank and file and 100 sowars. Two days later the capital Hyderabad surrendered and the force camped nearby.

Napier there awaited reinforcements which had all joined by 22 March, and included the 1st Troop, Horse Artillery (Major Leslie) and the 2nd Company, 1st Battalion (Captain Willoughby). On 24 March, Napier marched out of Hyderabad and met the remaining Amir, Sher Mahomed, at Dubba about six miles away. The enemy were entrenched in a dry nullah and were once again defeated by the disciplined advance of infantry supported by artillery, with cavalry charges on the flanks. Whitlie’s Battery supported the second and third Brigades consisting of Native Infantry regiments. Battery strength in this action was 3 combatant officers, 84 European rank and file and 100 sowars.

For his part in these two actions Whitlie was mentioned in the
London Gazette of 4 April, 9 May and 6 June, 1842. In the latter gazette it was announced that he had been created a C.B. and awarded a Brevet Majority. Sometime before 1851 he was appointed to command the 3rd Troop, Horse Artillery and was with them that year at Poona.

On 15 August 1852, he was promoted Major and appointed to command the 2nd Battalion, Foot Artillery, transferring the following year to 3rd Battalion. On 20 June 1854, he was made Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and employed in Ordnance. He was made Brevet Colonel on 18 March 1856 and on the 25th he was appointed to command the Horse Brigade, Bombay Artillery, which appointment he held until January 1857. In all probability he was relieved on account of ill-health for, on 12 April 1857, he died on board the ship
Seringapatam on the passage home.