The John Nicholson Collection of medals to men who fought in the Kaffir Wars of 1834-53

Date of Auction: 25th September 2019

Sold for £1,000

Estimate: £500 - £600

Pair: Sergeant William King, 9th Company, Royal Sappers and Miners, who served in the Kaffir Wars of 1846-47 and 1850-53, and was mentioned for his bravery in the ambush at Koonap Pass in June 1852

South Africa 1834-53 (Serjt. W. King. Rl. Saprs. & Minrs.); Army L.S. & G.C., V.R., small letter reverse (660 Sergt. W. King Rl. Engnrs.) official correction to rank on the second, good very fine (2) £500-£600


William King was born at Plymouth, Devon, in October 1812, and was attested for the Royal Sappers and Miners at Woolwich on 18 October 1825, aged 13, being appointed Bugler. He served abroad at Corfu for 9 years, and at the Cape of Good Hope for 8 years 1 month, ‘where he served in the Kaffir Wars of 1846-47 & of 1851-52, and was present at the actions at Committy’s Hill & at the Konap Pass.’ He was discharged at Woolwich on 31 January 1854, in consequence of chronic rheumatism and impaired sight ‘contracted by lying out in night bivouacs during the Caffre War’.

Of the action at Koonap Pass the History of the Royal Sappers and Miners records: ‘Captain Moody’s conduct throughout commanded the confidence of his men. Of their coolness and courage he reported in the highest terms. Colour-Sergeant Alexander Spalding who commanded the rear-guard, and Sergeant William King, who had charge of the advance, were favourably noticed in the Captain’s despatch... While Captain Moody was assisting the men in their charges, one of the rebels took a steady aim at him by resting his gun on the branch of a tree, but his piece snapped, and before he could re-cap he was shot down by private John Murphy. Three times Sergeant King collected his men, and bravely headed them in their fruitless charges on the rebels...’

Sold with copied discharge papers and other research.