Egypt Medal, dated 1882, 5 bars, Tel-el-Kebir, SUakin 1884, El-Teb_Tamaai, The Nile 1884-85, Kirbekan, 1785 Private William John Hunter, 19th Hussars.
An extremely rare confirmed 5 bar Egyptian War Medal, dated 1882, to 1785 Private W. J. Hunter, 19th Hussars who was wounded when shot in the chest at Kirebekan on 9th February 1885, on the eve of the battle, as only a small squadron of cavalry was present, posted from the 19th Hussars, they acted as advance mounted scouts when they came into contact with the enemy and Private Hunter was shot.
Private Hunter, an Irishman from Kilead, Antrim, Northern Ireland, was an effective soldier in the field but found to be otherwise very poorly behaved, tried multiple time for desertion, he spent some time in civil prison during 1881, when he was found completely naked in the home of a man in Milemill, after a lengthy negotiation to get him dressed, he refused to come quietly with the Constables and squared up to fight them, after a short scuffle with the 2 policemen where he kicked them in the shins and tried numerous attempts to bite them before he was eventually arrested.
Officially engraved: “1785 Pte W. J. Hunter. 19th Hussars.” One slight nick about 9 o’clock otherwise excellent condition with very little star pitting.
Glasgow Evening Post, 13th February 1885: “DETAILS OF THE BATTLE OF KIRBERKEN, BURIAL OF THE FALLEN OFFICERS, GALLANTRY OF EGYPTIAN CAMEL CORPS
A telegram via Merawi, dated February 10th
The enemy still occupied a strong position yesterday in the front of the Shukoop Pass.
The 19th Hussars sent out scouts, who were fired upon by the enemy, wounding slightly Private Hunter.”
William John Hunter was born during 1857 in Kilead, Cowlin, Antrim, Ireland.
He first attested for service with the 19th hussars on 16th May 1878, at the age of 21.
Private Hunter was found to be “A good soldier in the field” but his behaviour in general was quite poor, he was first found absent from service and placed in confinement from 28th May 1879 until 17th June 1879.
Followed by being tried and imprisoned for 56 days from 18th June 1879 until 12th August 1879.
Forfeiting his good conduct time on his conviction for desertion.
Later found absent and held in civil confinement from 21st April 1881 until 24th July 1881.
This was for assaulting a Policeman where he was described as a “Violent Son of Mars”.
The Kildare Observer, 30th April 1881 recounts:
“A VIOLENT SON OF MARS
William Hunter, a private of the 19th Hussars, stationed at the Curragh Camp, was brought up on remand, charged with having assaulted the Police on the night of the 22nd April, at Milemill.
Constable Caldbeck stated at at 10 o’clock on the night of the 22nd April he found the defendant undressed in the house of Peter Doran, Milemill, near Kilcullen.
Witness asked him who he was, and if he was a soldier. Defendant said he was a soldier of the 19th Hussars. When asked to show his pass, he said he had no pass, he had lost it.
When asked what he was doing there he gave an evasive answer. Witness then requested him to dress himself, and he refused.
After a while he induced to put on his clothes.
Witness then arrested him as a deserter, when he ‘squared’ at him.
Afterwards he seized the tongs, and rushed at witness, but his arm was caught by Sub-Constable Murphy before he had time to deliver the intended blow.
When seized by the police, he kicked witness violently on the leg, and tried to do the same to Sub-constable Murphy, and made several attempts to bite both of them. They ultimately overpowered him, and brought him to the police barracks at Kilcullen.
Witness subsequently made inquiries at the Curragh and found that the defendant had left the Camp on the 21st April.
Colonel Forbes forwarded to the War Office the papers charging him with desertion, and now he was before the court for the assault.
The Magistrates said his conduct had been very violent and very bad, and they could not do less than impose a fine of £5, or in default a sentence of 3 months imprisonment.”
Tried and imprisoned for 42 days by Court Martial on 15th February 1886.
He saw extensive service throughout the entirety of the Egypt campaigns, including the beginning in Egypt 1882, the “Soudan” war of 1884, followed by the advance up the Nile from 1884-5.
The combination of his service earned him a very unusual 5 bar issue of the medal, whilst most of the 19th Hussars fought at Abu Klea, they had sent a small squadron to act as Cavalry to the field force that fought at Kirbekan.
Even with a few court martials his conduct was found to be “Indifferent, but a good soldier in the field.”