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An extremely rare Afghanistan and Egypt

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Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000
ca. US$4,084 - US$4,901
Price realised:  £2,700
ca. US$4,411
Lot number 1121, Views: 43

An extremely rare Afghanistan and Egypt campaign group of four awarded to Piper A. Corbett, Seaforth Highlanders, one of two Pipers to play his regiment into the city of Kandahar in September 1880 Afghanistan 1878-80, 4 clasps, Peiwar Kotal, Charasia, Kabul, Kandahar (1566 Piper A. Corbett, 72nd Highrs.); Kabul to Kandahar Star 1880 (1566 Piper A. Corbett, 72nd Highlanders); Egypt 1882-89, reverse dated, 1 clasp, Tel-el-Kebir (1566 Piper A. Corbett, [1/Sea.] Highrs.); Khedive’s Star 1882, the reverse engraved ‘1566 Piper A. Corbett, 1/Sea. Hrs.’, the first with severe edge bruise at 7 o’clock, the last with soldered ring suspension, contact marks and edge bruising throughout, with consequent partial loss of regimental title on the third, otherwise fine and better (4) £2500-3000 Footnote Alexander “Sandy” Corbett was born in Avoch, Ross-shire in March 1852 and originally enlisted in the 78th Highlanders in Aberdeen in September 1868, aged 16 years, following brief service in the Inverness Militia. Transferring to the 72nd Highlanders in May 1870, he was embarked for India in the following year, where he was appointed a Piper in February 1878 - and in which capacity he served until discharged in August 1884. Corbett subsequently witnessed extensive active service in the Second Afghan War 1878-80 and, in September 1880 - having been carried in a dhoolie to within a mile of the city - was one of two Pipers to play his regiment into Kandahar. He was awarded the Afghanistan Medal with the above described clasps and the Kabul to Kandahar Star. Embarked for Egypt in August 1882, Corbett was present at Tel-el-Kebir, which experience is believed to have inspired him to write the following poem - “Following a Star”: Over the desert at midnight with rapid silent stride were marching British soldiers and their gallant sailor guide. God help them all if he failed to find his way in the gloom aright, for his comrades lives and his country’s fame were placed in his hands that night. Never a faltering moment unsteadied the ranks he led, they pressed on their silent way with the sail at their head. On through the gloom and darkness screened them watchful foe, till the goal they sought was safely gained as the sudden morning rose. Quick the alarm was sounded, quick was the onslaught made, sharp was the fight, but the foe fell back from the British fire and blade. Many a heart that late beat high was stilled in that hour foray and among the first of the British men fell the man who led the way. Sadly they bore him back to die and the kindly General came, bent over his friend with grateful thanks, pity and promised fame. Never a worry said the dying man of his pain or his hapless fate, but the eager words came, “General, didn’t I guide you straight.” It was a star you know, a star, a star that backward fell, his young life closed with the service done and the trust fulfilled so well. As long as an English voice speak of the Tel-el-Kebir fight, will be heard the brave young soldier’s name who guided them straight that night. Nor say that his work was ended with the dead that led to death, it may be a nobler mission wrought with his dying breath, for shall not the words he uttered like a living watchword shrill, to the hearts of men enlisted in a higher service still. On through the unknown country while the goal yet lies afar, led through the gloom and darkness by the light of a guiding star. God help us following where it leads till the doubtful path grows straight, and the march shall end and the conflict cease where it shines on the golden gate. Corbett returned to the U.K. in November 1882 and was discharged as medically unfit at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight in August 1884. The examining surgeon’s report stated that his general disability was of a permanent nature and had ‘originated as an effect of the Afghan Campaign’ and had progressed as a result of ‘long service in India, Afghan and Egypt ... He will be able to contribute, in part, towar

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Dix Noonan Webb
Title: Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 September 2009)
Date of the auction: 17 Sep 2009 - 18 Sep 2009
Address: Dix Noonan Webb
16 Bolton St, Mayfair
W1J 8BQ London
United Kingdom
[email protected] · +44 (0)20 7016 1700 · +44 (0)20 7016 1799