Lot Archive


№ 306


16 October 1996

Hammer Price:

Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse, no clasp (Mr. C. A. F. Powell. “Boskenna Bay”) official correction to second initial, otherwise very fine

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 BOSKENNA BAY belonged to F. Banfield & Sons.

By a most fortunate coincidence there were two senior officers serving at the Admiralty in 1882 who were steeped in the use of “Transports” under war conditions. Both men were to champion the cause for medallic awards to the Masters of these Transports.

Admiral Sir William R. Mends, serving as Director of Transports, approached “Mr Secretary Childers at the War Office” for his views on a proposal to issue Egypt campaign medals to the officers who had served in Transports. Agreement with the idea was obtained “provided it was limited to Masters only.” During the Crimean War, Captain Mends (H.M.S. AGAMEMNON) had been entrusted with the laborious task of drawing up the whole scheme of embarkation, transport and disembarkation of the army when moved from Varna to the Crimea. It was to this earlier period of wartime conditions that Mends turned when submitting his opinions to the Admiralty - stating that he was unaware of any precedent and that “it came to my knowledge after the Crimean War that the Masters of Transports felt extremely hurt that their services, which I know from personal observations had been so zealously and skillfully rendered, had not been considered as rendering them eligible to become recipients of the Crimean Medal.”

The other experienced officer in transport matters at this time was the Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty, Sir George Tryon, R.N. (later to be lost when C in C Mediterranean aboard VICTORIA during the collision with CAMPERDOWN). He had been the Senior Naval Officer in charge of Transports during the Abyssinian Campaign of 1867-68, and was able to point out that but for a change of Government in December 1868, and inter-service agreement would have led to campaign medals being awarded to some Mercantile Marine Officers in particular Transports which had participated in the Abyssinian Expedition. He added his voice to other testimonies concerning the value to the country of such men as served in Transports, specifically referring to his experiences when dealing with 291 Transports and their mercantile crews in Abyssinian waters:-

“I had to employ them largely and continuously, their zeal was equal to those of others serving under me, they shared the work and hardships - 8 Captains died, also 86 European seamen and very many more who were natives who were part of the crews of the Ships, and I felt and I still feel that many of them had as good a case for a medal as I had, the only point was, I was an enlisted servant of the Crown and they were hired - but I understood that 3 medals were given to hired mechanics, platelayers, and there are many precedents in favour of granting medals to those who some call ‘outsiders’.”

The final decision was left to the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Lord John Hay. His personal view was that medals should be given only to those men who are liable to fight, but after consideration he approved of awards being allowed to the Masters of the Transports.

There is an answer to the enigmatic title of ‘Mr’ engraved as the prefix to the recipient’s name on the edge of these awards. A Principal Clerk (H. J. Neale) penned the question: “As regards engraving the name. The word Master might be objected to by retired officers of the navigation branch, - shall the engraving be merely: “Mr. J. H. CLARK NYANZA” and so on?” His proposal was approved on 19 February 1883.