Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria, to include the Brian Ritchie Collection (Part II) (2 March 2005)

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Date of Auction: 2nd March 2005

Sold for £4,500

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A rare Defence of Kelat-I-Ghilzie medal to Bombardier Michael Shaughnessy, Bengal Artillery

Defence of Kelat-I-Ghilzie 1842 (Bombardier Michael Shaughnefsy, 4th Compy. 2nd Battn. Arty.) naming officially engraved in running script, fitted with replacement silver clip and bar suspension, minor edge nicks and bruises, otherwise good very fine and very rare £4000-5000

Footnote

Ex Whitaker Collection 1890.

A total of only 55 medals awarded to European recipients, including one officer and 43 men from the 4th Company 2nd Battalion, Bengal Artillery.

Following the disastrous retreat of the British from Cabul in January 1842, Ghuznee was retaken by the Afghans, and the isolated garrison at Kelat-i-Ghilzie was invested. The garrison consisted of 600 of the Shah’s 3rd Infantry, three companies of the 43rd N.I., totalling 247 men, forty-four European and twenty-two native artillery, twenty-three Bengal Sappers and Miners, and seven British officers, all under Captain John Halkett Craigie.

The total strength of the garrison of Kelat-i-Ghilzie, situated about eighty miles north east of Candahar, was fifty-five Europeans and 877 natives. In spite of ‘cold and privation unequalled by any of the troops in Afghanistan’ the garrison put up a successful defence through the whole winter till relieved on 26 May 1842. On the 21st May, however, the garrison had repulsed a particularly determined attack by some 6,000 Afghans:

‘Khelat-i-Ghilzai was attacked at a quarter before four o’clock’, reported Craigie, ‘The enemy advanced to the assault in the most determined manner, each column consisting of upwards of 2,000 men, provided with 30 scaling ladders, but after an hour’s fighting were repulsed and driven down the hill, losing five standards, one of which was planted three times in one of the embrasures ... The greatest gallantry and coolness were displayed by every commissioned and non-commissioned officer, and private (both European and Native) engaged in meeting the attack of the enemy, several of whom were bayoneted on top of the sandbags forming our parapets ...’

Colonel Wymer and his relieving force consequently were only engaged in destroying the defences and caring for the sick and wounded, until the 1st of June when they returned to Candahar.

Michael Shaughnessy enlisted at Limerick on January 1827 for unlimited service in the East India Company’s Artillery. A native of Askeating, County Limerick, he was then aged 22 years. He joined the E.I.C. recruit depot at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on 24 February 1827, and having been allocated to Bengal, sailed for India in the Parmelia on 13 June 1827. On arrival at Calcutta in early December, he was posted as 1783 Gunner, Bengal Foot Artillery. Michael Shaughnessy appears in the muster for 1 September 1842 as Bombardier, 4th Company 2nd Battalion Bengal Artillery. He was invalided to the Bengal Artillery Invalid Battalion at Chunar on 21 September 1844, where he was struck off ‘for Europe’ in October 1853.

Refs: IOL L/MIL/9/30; L/MIL/10/123; L/MIL/10/163; The Military Engineer in India (Sandes); Sieges and Defences of Fortified Places, Royal Engineers Journal, Vol XX, 1914.