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

Date of Auction: 8th May 2019

Sold for £2,600

Estimate: £2,600 - £3,000

A Second Afghan War C.B. pair awarded to Major-General Edward Tanner, 8th (The King’s) Regiment, who succeeded to the command of his regiment at Peiwar Kotal

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 18 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1880, complete with gold ribbon buckle; Afghanistan 1878-80, 1 clasp, Peiwar Kotal (Lt. Colonel. Edward Tanner. 2/8th Regt.) contained in a contemporary Collingwood opening-front display case, the first with some small chips and flaking to the enamels, the second lightly polished, otherwise better than very fine (2) £2,600-£3,000


Edward Tanner was born on 30 January 1839, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the son of Joseph Bouverie Hussey Tanner of Wexcombe, Wiltshire. He was commissioned, by purchase, as Ensign into the 33rd Regiment of Foot on 30 November 1855, at the age of 16, transferring to the 8th Regiment on 23 October 1857. His further promotions were as follows: Lieutenant, 7 December, 1857; Captain, 4 September 1860 (by purchase); Major, 24 March 1869 (by purchase), with the 2/8th Foot; Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 1 October 1877.

Major Tanner’s first and only active engagement with an enemy force occurred during the Afghan War of 1878-80. On 15 October 1878, the 2/8th Regiment left their base at Rawul Pindi on a march to Kohat to join a force under the command of Major-General Frederick Roberts, C.B., V.C. On arrival at Kohat, the regiment was attached to the 1st Infantry Brigade, under Brigadier-General Cobbe. After a succession of marches and supply halts, the force crossed the Kurrum River. The regiment had been required to leave portions of its officers and men at certain points along the route for the protection of key points along the line of communication and supply. At the point the regiment crossed the Kurrum River its strength, therefore, had been reduced by 244 men less than the number which had started out from Rawul Pindi. Continuing its advance towards Kurrum and ultimately Kabul, it was understood that the enemy had resolved to make a stand at the Peiwar Kotal and reinforcements from Kabul were making their way to join the enemy force at that place.

The force assembled at Kurrum were instructed to parade at 2 a.m. on 28 November, in light marching order, with minimal baggage. About 120 sickly N.C.Os. and men under Lieutenant Ruck, Musketry Instructor, and Major Cochrane were left to protect the Kurrum Fort. The remainder of the Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Drew, left the Fort at 6 a.m. and for 3 long hours the troops suffered bitterly from the night cold. After marching 22 miles, at 1 p.m., they reached the edge of the plain at the foot of the Kotal. Tanner accompanied a reconnaissance the same day, which involved some skirmishing and proved the enemy to be in strength, as well having possession of some strategically positions guns at the entrance to the Kotal.

The 1st Brigade under Brigadier-General Cobbe consisted of 2 guns, F/A R.H.A., 3 guns G/3 R.A., 12th Bengal Cavalry, 2/8th Foot, 5th Punjab Infantry, Teri and other levees. Whilst Major-General Roberts conducted a flank attack on the Kotal on 2 December, Cobbe’s brigade was held back specifically to make a direct attack on the Peiwar Kotal once the enemy’s left flank had been sufficiently taken by the other brigades involved. Brigadier-General Cobbe being wounded early in the attack, Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Drew took over command of the Brigade and Lieutenant-Colonel Tanner assumed command of the 2/8th. He was conspicuous in his leadership during the attack and led weakened companies, who had already suffered casualties, to the final summit position and that of the enemys’ guns, opening up withering rifle fire on the enemy battery defending the pass, some 800 yards away.

Tanner remained in command of the 2/8th Regiment until 14 March 1879. He commanded the Fort at Kurrum from November 1879 to 12 January, 1880. On 29 April 1880, Tanner left Afghanistan for England to take over command of the 1st Battalion. For his services in the Afghan Campaign, Tanner was mentioned in despatches, (London Gazette 7 November 1879), and made Companion of the Bath (London Gazette 1 March 1881). He was presented with his C.B. from the hands of the Queen on 24 March 1881, at Windsor Castle, during a private Investiture which took place in the Audience Room.

Tanner retired with the honorary rank of Major-General on 15 September 1886. Major-General Tanner died on 8 March 1916, at his home at “Woodside”, Old Shirley, Southampton.

Sold with comprehensive research.