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Thread: FS: British P1821 LC Officer's Sword by Wilkinson with 2nd Afghan War service

  1. #1

    FS: British P1821 LC Officer's Sword by Wilkinson with 2nd Afghan War service

    For Sale is a British Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer´s Sword by Wilkinson¸ serial number 16346 and proved 14 July 1869. The sharpened blade¸ listed as "medium cavalry"¸ measures 34 1/2" long and 1 1/8" wide at the ricasso.







    The steel hilt is dark with age. The grip has lost most of its fish skin wrap but retains all of its silver wire. The scabbard is also dark with age and has several dents and has a slight bend. The wood lining is still present but has deteriorated.









    The Wilkinson proof book entry shows that the sword was sold to Trooper T. Lambert for A. Smirke, Esq.. Alfred Smirke was born 5 May, 1848 and was the youngest son of Sydney and Isabella Smirke. Interestingly his family was more oriented to the arts than the military. His father, Sydney, is a well-known architect and designed the round reading room in the British Museum and the cupola of Bethlehem Hospital (now the Imperial War Museum). Sydney's brother (Alfred's uncle) was Sir Robert Smirke, designer of Eastnor Castle and the British Museum. His father's success undoubtedly resulted in an invitation to the Royal Levee of 1875 at which he was presented to the Queen.

    At age 15 Alfred appears to have taken the exam for a Naval Cadetship on appointment to H.M.S. "Britannia". I have not been able to find any further reference to him in the Royal Navy, so I assume he did not pass his exam. Instead he would commence his military career 11 June 1869 when he purchased his commission as a cornet in the 1st Dragoons. This must have been a formality of some sort because the following day he transferred to the 15th Hussars. On 14 November 1869 the 15th Hussars embarked for India, where Smirke would spend most of his career.

    As was typical, the 15th Hussars spent the balance of the 1870s moving from place to place throughout India--Mhow, Meerut, and Mooltan. Smirke was promoted lieutenant 1 November 1871. Smirke was promoted captain 2 March 1878, and within months saw his first active service in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War.

    His service according to Hart's List:
    Captain Smirke and Lieut. the Hon. A. Manners served with the 15th Hussars in the Candahar Column in the Afghan war of 1878-79, including the advance to Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and were present at the affair in the Ghlo Pass (Medal).
    ...and according to Shadbolt:
    Captain A. Smirke served with the regiment in the Quetta and Kandahar Field Forces, in the first campaign, taking part in the advance on and occupation of Kandahar and Kalat-i-Ghilzai, and being present at the affair in the Ghlo Pass.
    The 15th Hussars were on passage home in 1880 (Smirke was granted leave to England in August to attend to private matters) but a portion of the regiment were diverted to South Africa to serve in the 1st Anglo-Boer War. Hart's List makes no mention of service in South Africa and The Light Dragoons Museum is not able to find anything about his service after Afghanistan so I must assume he did not serve in South Africa. Interestingly, The Morning Post dated Monday, January 10, 1881 states that Captain Smirke (along with Captain Bullen) embarked for the Cape aboard the steam ship "Queen". Captain John Bullen Symes-Bullen served in the 1st Anglo-Boer War, so Smirke must not have been engaged in any active campaigning or his service in South Africa was overlooked by Hart's. Smirke retired in March 1882, receiving a gratuity from the 15th Hussars. This, combined with the publication schedule of the annual army list may account for the potential omission of service information.

    I am not sure if Smirke pursued another profession after retiring from the Army, but he enjoyed an active social life. His name appears amongst numerous attendee lists for balls and sporting events. He married Sarah Jane Adams in October 1887, but I have not been able to determine if they had children. During the years 1891-92 Smirke circumnavigated the globe aboard the steam yacht "St. George", a ship of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Alfred Smirke died in 1919 and is buried with his wife in Richmond Cemetery in the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames.

    Price: $600 including shipping in the continental USA.

    I prefer to use PayPal for payment.

    Please contact me via PM.

  2. #2
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    May 2016
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  3. #3
    Sold pending payment.

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