A Collection of Medals for the Second Afghan War 1878-80

Date of Auction: 8th May 2019

Sold for £3,000

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

The K.C.B. group of three awarded to General Sir W. A. Gib, Madras Staff Corps, Indian Army

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, K.C.B. (Military) Knight Commander’s set of insignia, comprising neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, hallmarked London 1897, and breast star, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; Indian Mutiny 1857-59, no clasp (Captn. W. A. Gib,); Afghanistan 1878-80, no clasp (Brig. Gen. Wm. Anthony Gib. M.S.C.) the campaign medals both fitted with contemporary silver riband bars, good very fine (4) £3,000-£4,000


William Anthony Gib was born in Edinburgh on 9 January 1827, the son of Captain Colin Gib, R.N., and Anne Binny. He was privately educated in Classics and Mathematics by William Andrew and Jones of Wanstead, Essex. He was nominated for acceptance into the Madras Infantry by Henry St. George Tucker, a Director of the East India Company on 31 December 1842, and passed the qualifying examinations for entry on 25 January 1843. Gib was commissioned Ensign on 4 April 1843 and arrived in the Madras Presidency on 21 July. He was posted to do duty with the 31st Madras Native Infantry and then to the 48th N.I. on 26 January 1844, travelling by sea via the port of Bombay to join his Corps. Later that year he was engaged at the storm and capture of the Fort at Werkera in Khandeish and was shortly afterwards employed in the Concon against the rebel Ragonee-Bungria. On this occasion Lieutenant Gib particularly distinguished himself by attacking and dispersing the whole gang and capturing most of their property and arms with the assistance of only one subadar and five sepoys.

In September 1854 he was performing duty with the Sappers and Miners, and, in September, the following year, was Assistant in the Thuggee and Dacoity Department. He was promoted to Captain on 23 November 1856. During the Indian Mutiny he ‘Commanded parties of Police, Regulars and Irregulars on several occasions in the Jubbulpore district in 1858 and 1859, in pursuit of rebels and in the action at Tendukureh’.

He became 2nd class Assistant to the Conservator of Forests on 28 September 1860, was promoted to Major on 4 April 1863, and became Interpreter to His Excellency the Commander in Chief on 28 July 1865. Over the course of the next 10 years he held numerous appointments, mostly with the 25th Native Infantry, of which he became second-in-command in January 1874 and Commandant in June 1876. He commanded this regiment in the Expeditionary Force to Malta in 1878.

Colonel Gib served during the second campaign in Afghanistan, with the rank of Brigadier-General, first in command of the 3rd Brigade, Reserve Division, at Peshawar, and afterwards, from 13 March, 1880, in command of the 1st Section, Khyber Line Force. He commanded the force in the operations in the Mazina Valley, including the action of Mazina.

In May 1880, disturbances in the Mazina Valley erupted following the gathering together of a large body of men caused by the preaching of Jihad by Moolah Ghulam Fakir. The Mazina operations were to suppress disturbances in the Valley and Brigadier General Gib commanded the expedition to affect this purpose, from 18 to 23 May, 1880. The force comprised of 4 guns from L/5 R.A. (Captain B. F. Domville), with the 8th Hussars (135 all ranks under Major H. P. Burke), 5th Bengal Cavalry (110 sabres under Major H. P. Shakespear), H.M. 14th Regiment (Lieutenant-Colonel D. S. Warren) and the 32nd Pioneers (Major H. C. W. Crookshank), and Major W. Coningham, Brigade Major.

The primary offensive action occurred during the morning of the 20th May, between 0730 hours and 1300 hours, after which the enemy were in full retreat and the threat neutralised. One native soldier (Brigade Transport) was killed in action, one native soldier missing, one native soldier (32nd Pioneers), was severely wounded, two soldiers from 14th Foot were killed in action, with two men severely wounded and one officer and one man slightly wounded, whilst one officer was severely wounded and one man slightly wounded from L/5 , R.A.

Major General R. O. Bright, C.B., commanding the Khyber Line Force, wrote on 1 June 1880:

‘... I think the Lieutenant-General [D. M. Stewart] will concur in my opinion that the complete success of the expedition reflects the greatest credit on the Brigadier-General and all engaged, as, will be seen from his account, he found the enemy in vastly superior numbers in a position of great natural strength. By a most judicious disposition of his small force, and by the gallant advance of the troops, the enemy were driven with considerable loss from every position, and ultimately clean out of the valley to the hills. I trust that for this gallant service the Lieutenant-General will bring the names of Brigadier-General Gib and the other officers whom he mentions as having specially distinguished themselves on the occasion to the favourable notice of His Excellency the Commander in Chief.’

On 3 July 1880, Lieutenant-General D. M. Stewart, Commanding Forces, Northern Afghanistan, wrote:

‘Much credit to Brigadier General Gib and the troops under his command is due and I have the greatest pleasure in bringing the services of all concerned to the notice of the Commander in Chief.’

Gib returned to India on 20 August 1880. For his services he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the C.B. He also received a Good Service Pension. He was given his insignia by the hand of the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday, 1 July, 1881.
Gib went on to further promotion, as Major-General in 1885, Lieutenant-General in 1890, and General in 1895. He held a variety of commands, including the District of Secunderabad and Hon. Colonel of the
78th Moplah Rifles. In the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations of 1897, he was Knighted, K.C.B. and received his insignia from the hands of the Queen at Osbourne House on Thursday, 12th August.

General Sir William Anthony Gib, K.C.B., died on 18 September 1915, at the age of 88, at his home in Highland Road, Upper Norbury, London.

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