Lot Archive


№ 289


16 October 1996

Hammer Price:

Pair: Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, no clasp (A. Gwyn, Comdr. I.G.S. “Amberwitch”); Khedive’s Star 1882, better than very fine and rare (2)

This lot was sold as part of a special collection, The Douglas-Morris Collection of Naval Medals.

View The Douglas-Morris Collection of Naval Medals


The European crew of theteamer AMBERWITCH comprised Commander Gwyn and five officers, four Engineers, one Asst. Apothecary, one Clerk and one Warrant Officer. In addition to these Europeans, there were a further 70 Goanese and Lascars who were issued with unnamed medals. AMBERWITCH and TENASSERIM were the only such vessels from India during these operations.

The Director of the Indian Marine, Bombay (Captain H. W. Brent, R.N.) sought entitlement, in December 1882, for the crews of Indian Government Steamers AMBERWITCH and TENASSERIM to receive the Egyptian Medal, since both vessels had been employed at the “seat of war under the orders of Rear Admiral Hewett during the recent campaign”. Furthermore, permission was sought to award medals to certain ‘rates’ who, under Bengal Army Regulations, would not be entitled to war medals.

The Rear Admiral considered “that the officers and crews of the Indian Government Ships in question have equal claims with the officers and crews of the ships of the Royal Navy employed recently in Egyptian waters, and did not hesitate to employ the AMBERWITCH and TENASSERIM precisely as if they had been ships of his own squadron, and they ran the same risk of finding themselves under fire as the men-of war.” In due course Captain Brent’s proposal was approved by the Admiralty, inclusive of those men who would have been denied awards by Bengal Army rules, such men holding the various ‘rates’ of Engineer’s Servant, Cook and Butler, Saloon Cook, Servant and Butler, Waiter, Mussalchee, Cassub, Lamp Trimmer and Topaz, since the Admiralty ordained that only “men holding similar positions in the R.N. are entitled”. Accordingly the Accountant General despatched 203 Egypt Medals (dated 1882 without clasps) on 31 July 1883, accompanied by a similar number of Khedive’s Bronze Stars. Additionally three pairs of awards were sent to those officers known to be residing in the U.K. at that time. A covering letter stated that “the medals for the officers are engraved with their names, but those for the crews are left plain, in order that they may be engraved in Hindustani etc after their arrival in India.”

Anthony Gwyn was born on 20 June 1848 in Suffolk, and joined the Royal Navy on 10 June 1862 as a Naval Cadet to be trained aboard H.M.S. BRITANNIA, only obtaining a 3rd Class certificate on passing out. As a Midshipman he served a commission aboard H.M.S. SUTLEJ (1864-68), but lost three months seniority for misconduct in Decemer 1866. Passed for Navigating Sub Lieutenant on 7 February 1870 with the lowest of grades in all three subjects Seamanship, Gunnery and Navigation. During his next commission aboard H.M.S. COLUMBINE he became ill, spending time in hospitals at the Seychelles and Lisbon, and upon return to England retired from the Royal Navy as a Sub Lieutenant on 4 October 1873, with the then very reasonable sum of retired pay amounting to five shillings a day. He was next employed with P & O shipping line from March 1874 until February 1876, obtaining his Master's Certificate in November 1874. He joined the Bengal Marine in the rank of Commander on 5 February 1876 and was in command of AMBERWITCH from 5 July 1882 until July 1884, earning his Egypt medal. In 1887 he became Assistant Director of the Indian Marine, and in March 1894 became Deputy Director of the Royal Indian Marine until retired on 5 February 1901.