Irregular Postings on Coin Collecting & Numismatics - Both Canonical & Conanical

A Scion Society of The Baker Street Irregulars

Numismatists Do Not Fear Change

Category Archives: Orders & Decorations

Orders & Decorations

No Bar For Maiwand (1965)

No Bar For Maiwand (1965)

“… I should have had a medal …”

– The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (3GAR)

In dusty corners of old curio shops, there is often a little tray of tarnished trinkets. Amongst the buttons and pen-knives, I have sometimes found an old campaign medal with faded ribbon – and finally, after a long search and many disappointments, Watson’s own medal.

Not, alas, the very one awarded to Asst. Surgeon J. H. Watson, 5th/66th Foot, nor even those of Orderly Murray or Colonel Hayter or Moran, but a fine specimen awarded in that campaign, full of “hardship and sickness,” to a Private T. O’Neil, 1st/25th Foot, with its ribbon of green and purplish red, barely faded.

This medal was (wound pension apart) Watson’s only reward in a campaign “which brought honours and promotion to many” but to Watson “nothing but misfortune and disaster.”

I learned much of its horror from an excellent article in a recent BSJ, by Professor Richard Lesh and shall not attempt to describe them here.

There were six bars for the Afghanistan Medal, for the six victories of Ali Musjid, Peiwar Kotal, Charasia, Ahmed Khel, Kabul and Kandahar. For “fatal” Maiwand – that shattering defeat – there was no bar. Colonel Moran, 1st. Bengalore Pioneers, could of course claim the bars for Charasia and Kabul, also, very probably, the separate Kabul to Kandahar Star.

This medal, apart from its Sherlockian connections, is well worth seeking. I think that it is one of the finest of the Victorian campaign medals. The obverse shows a very Regal and Imperial “Regina at Imperatrix,” and it may be mentioned that the Medal was struck at the Queen’s own request, as she considered that the existing Indian General Service Medal was not adequate recognition.

The portrait of the Queen is engraved by J. E. Boehm and the names of the recipients are engraved along the rim – British troops in Roman Capitals – native troops in italic.

The reverse is much more interesting (see photograph). It is engraved by L. C. Wyon from a drawing by the famous Victorian book illustrator, Randolph Caldecott. Thus: 

A column of cavalry and infrantry winds down the rocky road from the hill-fort, high above. At the head, march British infantrymen, followed by a magnificent elephant carrying a heavy gun. Beside him comes the fine horse of a British officer. Could it be the great “Bobs,” himself or one of our Colonels, Hayter or Moran? And, at the rear, comes a great host of turbanned Indian lancers from Bengal or the Punjab.

 

If you look closely at this picture, the whole campaign seems to come alive. Onc can see the hot sun catching the lances of the cavalry and the bayonnets of the British privates. One can hear the boots of the men ringing on the rocky road, the bugles echoing across the pass, the shouted commands, the jingle and clatter of the horsemen, feel the heat and dust rising from the road.

I like to picture Watson sitting by the fire at 221b on a raw November evening, holding his medal and re-living that “battle long ago.”

Originally published in the Spring 1965 (Volume 7, Number 2, Whole Number 26) of the Sherlock Holmes Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

Michael Palin Now a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)

Michael Palin Now a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)

“If you have a fancy to see your name in the next honours list” – The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (BRUC)   Monty Python’s Michael Palin hosted the April 8, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live and portrayed Holmes in a sketch Michael Palin’s name is familiar to fans of Monty Python, but many are not… Continue Reading

Faces of Holmes: Charlton Heston

Faces of Holmes: Charlton Heston

“… possible actors in this drama…” – The Adventure of the Second Stain (SECO) Charlton Heston as Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood Charlton Heston was a prolific actor in Hollywood. Upon his death in 2008, noted film critic Roger Ebert commented, “Heston made at least three movies that almost everybody eventually sees: Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and Planet of… Continue Reading

The Unauthorized [and Illicit] Dr. Watson Battle of Maiwand Bar

The Unauthorized [and Illicit] Dr. Watson Battle of Maiwand Bar

“The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster.” – A Study in Scarlet (STUD) Facsimile of Dr. John Watson’s 2nd Afghan War Medal With the [at last and about time] Long Overdue Maiwand Bar* For the believer in versimilitude actual 2nd Afghan War Medals may… Continue Reading

Faces of Moriarty Leo McKern

Faces of Moriarty Leo McKern

“… an incomparable actor” – A Study in Scarlet (STUD) Reginald “Leo” McKern (March 16, 1920 – July 23, 2002) was an Australian actor. While our group will focus on his portrayal of Professor James Moriarty in the 1975 musical comedy film, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, he is better known for his role as… Continue Reading

Numismatic Items in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother

Numismatic Items in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother

“… my unhappy brother…” – The Sign of the Four (SIGN) Gene Wilder wrote, directed and starred in the 1975 musical comedy The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother. Wilder would portray Sigerson while being assisted by Marty Feldman’s character of Orville Sacker, a Scotland Yards record clerk with a “photographic” memory for hearing. They would investigate… Continue Reading

Campaign Medals of Jude Law’s Dr. Watson

Campaign Medals of Jude Law’s Dr. Watson

“I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand.” – A Study in Scarleti (STUD) We have done a few posts before on the various cinematic versions of Dr. Watson and the various military decorations they have worn. We now turn our attention to the portrayal by Jude Law in the two movies in the Robert Downey,… Continue Reading

The Decorated Dr. Watson of the 2013 Sherlok Kholms Russian Television Series

The Decorated Dr. Watson of the 2013 Sherlok Kholms Russian Television Series

“The campaign brought honours and promotion to many …” – A Study in Scarlet (STUD) Dr. Watson hanging up his uniform in the first episode of Sherlok Kholmes In November 2013, Russian television aired eight episodes of Шерлок Холмс, translated as Sherlok Kholms. The series starred Igor Petrenk as Holmes as Andrei Panin as Watson. This would be… Continue Reading

Faces of Mycroft: Hugh Laurie

Faces of Mycroft: Hugh Laurie

“If you have a fancy to see your name in the next honours list…” – The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (BRUC) Prince Charles presents Hugh Laurie with his CBE, November 21, 2018 We share the following report from the BBC: Hugh Laurie made a CBE by Prince Charles Actor Hugh Laurie has been made a… Continue Reading

Faces of Holmes: Peter Cushing

Faces of Holmes: Peter Cushing

“… this man here – is an actor.” – The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (SHOS) John Mills as Watson, Peter Cushing as Holmes in The Masks of Death (1984). This would be Cushing’s last role as Holmes. My first introduction to Peter Cushing was as Grand Moff Tarkin in a 1976 movie Star Wars. I would later become familiar… Continue Reading