Lot Archive


№ 573


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

Five: Lieutenant-Colonel R. F. Trotter, 17th Bengal Cavalry

India General Service 1854-95, 1 clasp, Jowaki 1877-8 (Lieut., 17th Bengal Cavalry); Afghanistan 1878-80, 1 clasp, Ali Musjid (Lt., 17th Bl. Cav.); 1914 Star (Lt. Col., I.A.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Col.) the first two nearly very fine, otherwise good very fine (5) £600-700

Robert Francis Trotter was born on 1 November 1849, and was first commissioned as a Cornet in the 4th Hussars on 8 December 1869, becoming a Lieutenant in October 1871. He transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps in July 1874, and was posted to the 17th Bengal Cavalry.

He served with Brigadier-General Ross’s Force during the operations against the Jowaki Afridis in 1877-78, and was involved in one of the few notable incidents of the campaign. On the morning of the 21st November 1877, the garrison of Fort Mackeson moved out to oppose an intended raid by the Jowakis on a village near Shum Shultoo and, on this occasion, Captain H. B. Swiney was killed when charging at the head of his command. Accompanied by Lieutenant Trotter, he had occupied the village with his little force. The Jowakis seeing this, opened fire at a range of about 600 or 700 yards. The fire was briskly kept up on both sides during an hour and a half, when the little force made a movement towards the village. Then the enemy with true Pathan tactics, turned, and Captain Swiney gave the order to charge. He and Lieutenant Trotter, now heading the force, were about 30 yards in advance. Captain Swiney singled out and cut down the Chief or Khan, but this man managed to recover himself sufficiently, and as Captain Swiney wheeled round at him, he cut at Captain Swiney, and caught him in the right forearm, severing all the arteries.

Seeing Captain Swiney fall, a Sikh sowar immediately charged the Khan and ran him through with a lance. Captain Swiney was taken out of the action by a native officer of the 17th Bengal Cavalry, and was carried to the support. This was barely in time, for the enemy seeing what had happened swarmed out of the nullahs in hundreds. Lieutenant Trotter at once dismounted, and with a few men formed a line, and kept the enemy back while Captain Swiney was removed. He was carried back to the Fort, but died shortly afterwards from loss of blood.

In the Afghan war of 1878-80, Lieutenant Trotter was attached during the first campaign to the 27th Punjab Infantry, and in command of the skirmishers of the Left advance, was present at the bombardment and capture of Ali Musjid, being the first officer on the heights before the Fort.

Promoted to Captain in December 1881, Trotter became Major in 1889, and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1895. He went on half pay in 1906, and was recalled for service during the Great War, when he served as a Commander on the Lines of Communication.