The Jack Webb Collection of Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 20th August 2020

Estimate: £7,000 - £9,000

The important Afghanistan medal to Lieutenant E. G. Osborne, “E” Battery “B” Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, who with selfless bravery at the battle of Maiwand, 27 July 1880, on seeing a British officer being attacked by the Ghazis and certain to be killed, mounted a horse and charged at the enemy and with his sword cut down and killed many of them and saved the officer’s life; this act also distracted the enemy and allowed the guns and men to withdraw - this act of courage cost Osborne his life

Afghanistan 1878-80, no clasp (Lieut: E. G. Osborne. E. Batt: B. Bde. R.H.A.) toned, extremely fine £7,000-£9,000

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The important Afghanistan medal to Lieutenant E. G. Osborne, “E” Battery “B” Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, who with selfless bravery at the battle of Maiwand, 27 July 1880, on seeing a British officer being attacked by the Ghazis and certain to be killed, mounted a horse and charged at the enemy and with his sword cut down and killed many of them and saved the officer’s life; this act also distracted the enemy and allowed the guns and men to withdraw - this act of courage cost Osborne his life

Afghanistan 1878-80, no clasp (Lieut: E. G. Osborne. E. Batt: B. Bde. R.H.A.) toned, extremely fine £7,000-£9,000
Edmund George Osborne, who was killed in action at Maiwand on the 27th July, 1880, was the fourth son of Robert Osborne, Esq., of Laurence Weston, Henbury, Gloucestershire, and Emily Theresa, eldest daughter of Admiral Charles Warde, K.H., of Squerryes Court, Westerham, Kent. He was born on the 10th December, 1853, and was educated at Sydney College, Bath. In the spring of 1872 he competed for admission into the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and succeeded, out of a large number of candidates, in taking second place. Passing out of the Academy at Midsummer, 1873, he was gazetted to a Lieutenancy in the Royal Artillery, and shortly afterwards proceeded to Bengal in one of the garrison batteries. A few weeks after arriving in India he exchanged into Field Battery F/4 Royal Artillery, then stationed at Saugor. He was subsequently appointed District Adjutant of Artillery at Jabalpur, and retained the post till the autumn of 1878.

On the concentration of the troops on the frontier, in view of the impending invasion of Afghanistan, Osborne received the appointment of Adjutant of the Royal Artillery Kuran Valley Field Force, and subsequently served in his new capacity through the whole of the first campaign. For his conduct in the assault and capture of the Piewar Kotal he was honourably mentioned in General Roberts’ despatch of the 2nd December, 1878; and Colonel Lindsay, commanding the artillery of the force, reported that he had “received valuable assistance from Lieutenant E. G. Osborne, R.A., his Adjutant, and that this officer was most useful, in aiding the officers of No. 1 Mountain Battery, especially after Captain Kelso was killed.” He subsequently took part in the Khost Valley expedition, and in nearly all the minor affairs in which the force was engaged.

On the conclusion of the first Afghan campaign, Lieutenant Osborne returned to England on leave. In less than a week after his arrival home, however, the news of the Kabul massacre and of the renewal of hostilities reached him, and he at once hurried out with all speed to India. On arriving at Bombay, he was ordered to rejoin his battery at Saugor, but very shortly afterwards was again sent to the front for service with Sir Frederick Roberts’ Division. On his way up country, the intelligence reached him of his transfer to Battery E/B, Royal Horse Artillery, then on its march to the front to form part of the South Afghanistan Field Force. Joining the battery en route, he accompanied it to Kandahar. He subsequently took part in the advance of Burrows’ Brigade, in the first week of July, 1880, to the Halmand, and did excellent service with his guns in the encounter with the Wali’s mutinied troops in the neighbourhood of Girishk. In the disastrous battle of Maiwand, on the 27th of the month, he remained unhurt till he was ordered to limber up his guns and retire. Few of his men were left at this time to carry out the order; and at once dismounting, he went to their assistance. It was in the performance of this act that he was shot dead, rendering up his life at his post with a heroism which has contributed in securing the verdict that on that ill-fated day “the conduct of the Artillery was beyond praise.”

“I would bear testimony,’ writes Major A. H. Murray, R.A., “to his (Lieutenant Osborne’s) high spirit and love of his profession. I am also aware that the late Major Blackwood had the highest opinion of him as an energetic and reliable young officer. Whenever there was tough work to do, young Osborne was to the front, and doing it well. He was a keen sportsman and brilliant polo player - altogether as fine a specimen of the British subaltern as I have met in twenty-four years’ service.” (The Afghan Campaigns of 1878-1880 by Sydney H. Shadbolt, refers)

Several accounts of Osborne’s heroic death exist. Another states that ‘The Centre Section got away owing to the self-sacrificing gallantry of Lieutenant E. S. (sic) Osborne, who mounted and deliberately charged the enemy and died fighting desperately. His action undoubtedly saved his Section from annihilation.’ See also Maiwand by Richard J. Stacpoole-Ryding, who describes Osborne going to the rescue of a British officer by charging the enemy and killing many of them before he himself was killed.

The above account of Osborne’s services before joining E/B Battery would seem to suggest that his medal should have been issued with a clasp for ‘Peiwar Kotal’ from the first campaign. The medal roll is marked ‘Medal sent to T. E. Vansittart, Castle Connell, Limerick. 15-5-1882.’ The medals to Major G. F. Blackwood, who commanded “E” Battery and was the only other officer of the Battery killed at Maiwand, were sold as part of the Brian Ritche Collection, (Dix Noonan Webb, September 2004, Lot 120, £18,000).