A rare to a European First Afghanistan War Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul Medal 1841-1842, reverse for Candahar 1842, awarded to Private Frederick Knight, 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot - the Fighting Fortieth, who was one of only 130 European recipients of the medal with the Candahar 1842 reverse, of which 64 went to the 40th Foot, he having been almost certainly a part of General Nott’s force that engaged the Afghan’s on 12th January 1842, and was mostly likely one of the ten men of his regiment wounded in this action and he subsequen

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Product ID: CMA/28777
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Description:

A rare to a European First Afghanistan War Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul Medal 1841-1842, reverse for Candahar 1842, awarded to Private Frederick Knight, 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot - the Fighting Fortieth, who was one of only 130 European recipients of the medal with the Candahar 1842 reverse, of which 64 went to the 40th Foot, he having been almost certainly a part of General Nott’s force that engaged the Afghan’s on 12th January 1842, and was mostly likely one of the ten men of his regiment wounded in this action and he subsequently died on 24th January 1842.

First Afghanistan War Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul Medal 1841-1842, reverse for Candahar 1842, complete with original steel clip and straight bar suspension, rim engraved in correct period flowing script as known for men of the 40th Regiment; (PRIVATE FREDERICK KNIGHTS H.M.40TH: REGIMENT)

Condition: lightly polished on highlights, Good Very Fine.

Frederick Knight, surname spelt Knights on medal, saw service as a Private (No.866) with the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot - the Fighting Fortieth, and was on active service in Afghanistan during the First Afghanistan War of 1841 to 1842, and present in action in the vicinity of Candahar in January 1842.

The insurgent Afghans had advanced on Kandahar, which was held by two British regiments, the 40th and 41st Foot, and twelve Indian regiments under Major General William Nott. On 12th January, Nott moved out with some 3,500 men to meet 18,000 enemy and mounted them with ease; the 40th, who led the British attack, suffering only ten wounded. It would appear the Private Frederick Knight may well have been one of those ten men of the 40th Foot to be wounded on 12th January 1842, and he subsequently died on 24th January 1842.

Severe winter weather precluded further offensive operations until early March, when Nott mounted a sortie to attack the enemy’s headquarters, some 30-40 miles away. Contact was soon made with the Afghan cavalry, but they refused battle, and on Nott’s return to Kandahar the reason for this was obvious.

The Afghans had taken advantage of the army’s absence to attack its base on 10th March, attempting to fire the gates to the city. They succeeded in burning down the Herat Gate and made a determinate assault there, but the gallant defenders - notably including 94 sick and wounded of the 40th, who turned out to fight in their hospital clothing - beat them off from behind improvised barricades of flour sacks. A simultaneous attack on the Citadel Gate, which would have been fatal for the little garrison, was thwarted by Quartermaster Philips of the 40th, who, happening to look outside the gate before securing it for the night, removed the faggots laid there before they could be set alight.

The lack of any ability to set alight the Citadel Gate therefore meant that the guns could be moved to the Herat Gate to assist in its defence, and their grapeshot helped to decimate the attackers, but the assault went on for over three hours before the Afghans withdrew prior to the arrival of Nott’s force. The Afghans left behind piles of dead and wounded, it was estimated that some 600 of them had been killed.

The gallant defence of Kandahar deserves to be better known, but it was played down by General Nott when he was charged with neglect for leaving behind him so weak a garrison. as he insisted he had provided a “guard sufficient for the defence”. It this case it had been proved, albeit by fortune, determination and bravery from a small and heavily outnumbered group, certainly the result was rather more than the intent. It had been a near run thing, and had the city fallen, with the consequent loss of stores and ammunition, the whole of Nott’s force might have been overwhelmed.

The defenders commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lane, Bengal Army, had been composed of the 2nd Bengal Native Infantry, two regiments of the Shah’s Infantry and a detachment of the 40th, the majority of whom were invalids. This party under Lieutenant Lee, was made up of Quartermaster Phillips, 1 drummer, 4 sergeants and 87 rank and file, mostly sick and wounded. Nott returned to Kanadahar on 12th March 1842. On 25th March a force moved out under the command of Colonel Wymer, Bengal Army, and tribesmen threatening them were driven beyond the Arghandab. Meanwhile, relieving troops under Major General Richard England spearheaded by H.M. 41st Foot he been trying to reach Nott. For a while they were held up in the Khujuk Pass but at the second attempt a way was forced through, and the combined force entered Kandahar on 9th May. A Brigade under Wymer was sent to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Khelat-i-Ghilzee on 19th May, the 40th Foot was part of the force but before they reached the fort it was attacked by 4,000 Ghilzees. The assault was gallantly driven off before Wymer’s force arrived on 25th May. Not finally marched out of Kandahar on 10th August 1842.

When the medal was issued, only the officers and men who accompanied Major General England to Karachi and those who died before Nott marched towards Cabul were awarded the First Afghanistan War Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul Medal 1841-1842, with the reverse only for Candahar 1842. A total of only 130 medals were issued to European recipients with the Candahar 1842 reverse, of which 64 went to the 40th Foot.