Crimean War Bombardment of Sebastopol and Battle of Balaclava Royal Marine Brigade 'officially impressed' Crimea Medal pair awarded to Sergeant Samuel Clissold, Royal Marines, who was originally a member of the marine detachment aboard the Southampton at the Cape of Good Hope when in May 1842 she landed troops and dispersed the Boers who were besieging the British troops in the castle at Port Natal, what is now Durban. Having participated in anti-piracy operations in Borneo whilst aboard the corvette Daedalus in September 1845, he was still aboard her when on her homeward voyage from New Zealand, whilst sailing between the Cape of Good Hope and Saint Helena, on 6th August 1848 her crew saw a sea serpent which was subsequently reported (and debated) in The Times. Clissold then formed part of the Royal Marine detachment aboard the 92 gun London in the Black Sea during the Crimean War and served ashore as a part of the 112 Royal Marines from her who saw service with the 1st Royal Marine Brigade whilst employed as a Corporal and Acting Sergeant in the role of Provost Sergeant in the period from 11th October 1854 through to 16th August 1855, service for which he was ‰ÛÏmentioned‰Û_x009d_ specifically for consideration of extra pay by the battalion commander, Colonel Hurdle. Present during the siege of Sebastopol from 17th October, he was present at the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854. A letter sent by him to his parents on 1st June 1855, and written at the camp on the heights at Balaclava, was published in a local paper, the 'The Stroud Journal' of 16th June 1855. He described the sickness taking his mess mates, and the onset of cholera, whilst also detailing a French attack the Russian positions on 22nd May. He wrote: 'There are plenty of fine sights here every night; the flashes from the guns and the congreve rockets illuminate the sky.' He further wrote: 'I have sent you a wild bit of thyme and two or three wild flowers, as you shall have something from the seat of war.' Only a relatively small number of sailors and marines, all from the ships London, Niger, Rodney and Wasp, would subsequently receive an officially impressed Crimea Medal. Clissold was ultimately aboard the Agamemnon when she was involved in the first unsuccessful attempt to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable in 1857.
Crimea Medal 1854-1856, 2 Clasps: Balaklava, Sebastopol, officially impressed naming; (CORPL. SAML. CLISSOLD. R.M.); Turkish Crimea Medal 1855, Sardinian issue, with modified straight bar suspension, rim engraved in serif capitals; (SERGT. SAML CLISSOLD. R.M.)
Condition: slight contact wear and edge bruising to first, Very Fine.
Samuel Clissold was born in Kingstanley, Stroud, Gloucestershire, and having enlisted on 4th September 1838 as a Private into the Royal Marines, was posted to the Woolwich Division. Clissold went on to serve for 22 years, of which 10 years was afloat and abroad.
Clissold was embarked aboard the 52 gun 4th rate warship Southampton from 1st August 1840 through to 3rd December 1842, during which period she was initially commanded by Captain William Hillyar, and was appointed the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Edward King at the Cape of Good Hope. She remained as such when Acting Captain Stephen Greville Fremantle assumed command of her on 12th August 1841. Having left Plymouth with King aboard, she headed for South America in October 1840, arriving at Rio de Janiero in November, and in January 1841 was en-route for the River Plate, before heading on and arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in February 1841. In June 1841 she was at Rio de Janiero again, where Rear Admiral King was reporting on the state of the slave trade in the Brazils, and in October 1841 was at Monte Video. She departed for the Cape of Good Hope again in November 1841. In March 1842 members of her crew fought a fire that had broken out aboard the merchant vessel Thetis that had recently arrived in Simon's Bay. In May 1842 she departed for Port Natal, and late the following month when accompanied by the schooner Conch, she arrived at Port Natal with troops, to deal with the Boer blockade of British troops in their fort at Port Natal, what is now Durban.
The Boers of the Republic of Natalia sought an independent port of entry, free from British control and thus sought to conquer the Port Natal trading settlement which had been settled by mostly British merchants. It was was officially known at the Battle of Congelia on 23rd May 1842, the Boers effectively defeated the forces of Captain Thomas Charlton Smith, and laid siege to the troops in the castle at Port Natal. In the battalion, Smith had lost many men, and realised he needed to urgently request reinforcements from the Cape Colony, which was six hundred kilometers of untamed wilderness away. An English trader known as Dick King, a colonist, volunteered to alert the colony by riding on horseback to Grahamstiown. Slipping through the Boers under the cover of night, King and his native assistant escaped and began their seemingly impossible mission. King made the famous horseback journey of 960 kilometers in fourteen days, ten days quicker than the normal journey's length and reinforcements were immediately sent. Thirty one days after Captain Smith recruited King, the reinforcements arrived at Port Natal by ship, aboard the Conch and the Southampton. The reinforcements relieved Captain Smith and the surrounding Boers soon dispersed.
Clissold saw service during these operations, and was then aboard Southampton when she eventually arrived home in November 1842, being discharged from her on 3rd December 1842.
Clissold's next seagoing appointment was aboard the 14 gun corvette Daedalus from 26th October 1844 trough to 13th October 1848. As such Clissold sailed with her for New Zealand in January 1845, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, she was sent to bolster the forces under the control of Governor Fitzroy, and enamel him to send a sloop of war to Cook's Strait. She had on board å£1,000 in silver coin for the NZ Government. Whilst there in August 1845 she joined the force under Vice-Admiral Sir T Cochrane, which was formed for service in Borneo to attack the pirates that menaced those waters. In September 1845 Clissold was aboard Daedalus when she conducted an attack on pirates at Malloodoo Bay. From 1846 she was serving on the China and East Indies Stations, being based at Hong Kong. She returned home in 1848, and it was during her return voyage then on 6th August 1848, Captain McQuhae of Daedalus and several of his officers and crew whilst en route to Saint Helena saw a sea serpent which was subsequently reported (and debated) in The Times. The vessel sighted what they named as an enormous serpent between the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena. The serpent was witnessed to have been swimming with four feet (1.2 m) of its head above the water and they believed that there was another sixty feet (18 m) of the creature in the sea. Captain McQuahoe also said that "[The creature] passed rapidly, but so close under our lee quarter, that had it been a man of my acquaintance I should have easily have recognised his features with the naked eye." According to seven members of the crew it remained in view for around twenty minutes. Another officer wrote that the creature was more of a lizard than a serpent. Evolutionary biologist Gary J. Galbreath contends that what the crew of Daedalus saw was a sei baleen whale.
Clissold was promoted to Corporal on 19th February 1849, and next joined the 92 gun second rate ship of the line London from 11th December 1851, and serving aboard her through to 30th September 1855. Initially stationed at Sheerness, he was however then aboard her when she saw served in the Black Sea during the Crimean War. Clissold was one of the 116 Royal Marines from the crew of London who joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Marine Brigade, he being landed and employed ashore as a Provost Sergeant with the 1st Battalion continuously from 11th October 1854 through to 16th August 1855, service for which he was ‰ÛÏmentioned‰Û_x009d_ specifically for consideration of extra pay by the battalion commander, Colonel Hurdle. Clissold saw service ashore during the siege of Sebastopol from 17th October 1854, and was present with this force of Royal Marines that manned what became known as 'Marine Heights' at the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854, this position being located on the defensive perimeter of the port of Balaclava. Having been initially as an Acting Sergeant whilst holding the position of Provost Sergeant, he was promoted to Sergeant on 6th June 1855.
One of Clissold's lettershome to his parents, written at the camp on the heights at Balaclava on 1st June 1855, was subsequently published in the newspaper 'The Stroud Journal' of 16th June 1855. In it he wrote: 'I must say that I have been a great deal more fortunate than most of my neighbours, for I have had nothing the matter with me, excepting a cold, since I have been on shore. I had 22 men in my mess when we landed, besides myself; we have lost seven of them by sickness only, and the finest and biggest men amongst the lot were the first taken. It is very hot here now in the middle of the day, and the cholera is beginning to show itself again amongst our ranks. There have been several cases lately. There are plenty of fine sights here every night; the flashes from the guns and the congreve rockets illuminate the sky. On the 22nd of this month the French on the right had an attack with the enemy and lost 1200 men; the French gained their point, the Russian loss was tremendous. On the 23rd the flag of truce was hoisted to bury dead; the French and Russians were on the field together sorting out their own countrymen and taking them away. At night again the batteries were open and musketry firing as hard as they could pelt, till midnight. I have not found what execution was done that night. On the 25th, the whole of the light division advanced across the plain and over the Heights of Balaclava. We took 202 Cossacks prisoners. There is a strong army retiring from Kertch. We have a strong army in the rear of them again. We are out to beat them off, so we expect to have a regular on Friday next if the army comes in sight, which is fully expected. When you write give me all the news you can. I have sent you a wild bit of thyme and two or three wild flowers, as you shall have something from the seat of war.'
Clissold left London on 30th September 1855 whilst still on service in the Crimea, he having been posted aboard the 121 gun warship Royal Albert whilst out there in the Black Sea on 1st October 1855, she being the flagship of Rear-Admiral Edmund Lyons. Clissold however rejoined London on 19th November 1855, and then sailed home aboard her, being disembarked at Devonport on 31st January 1855.
Clissold was subsequently awarded one of a relatively small number of officially impressed Crimea Medals to men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Slightly less than 2000 impressed medals were given to the crews of the London, Niger, Rodney and Wasp, four of the five ships that had left the war zone early. The majority of Crimea Medal's to the Royal Navy were issued unnamed in an order placed with the Royal Mint from the Admiralty in mid November 1855, in order to be dispatched to the Crimea where there war was still ongoing. Of the five ships that had left early, it was deemed that they would have their medals presented to them on arrival in England, with the fifth ship, namely Albion, having its medals specifically engraved by Hunt and Roskell. Of the 743 medals issued to the crew of London, it is noted in an article published in the OMSA Journal in January 2018, that about 100 are known, hence a survival rate of 13.5%.
Clissold was reduced to Private on 23rd April 1857, and his final period of service afloat was aboard the 80 gun second rate warship Agamemnon from 13th June 1857 to 27th January 1858. In 1857, the government fitted out Agamemnon to carry 1,250 tons of telegraphic cable for the Atlantic Telegraph Company's first attempt to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable. Although this initial cable attempt was unsuccessful, the project was resumed the following year and Agamemnon and her U.S. counterpart, USS Niagara, successfully joined the ends of their two sections of cable in the middle of the Atlantic on 29 July 1858. Clissold was aboard for the first unsuccessful attempt.
Clissold was once again promoted to Corporal on 31st May 1858, and then to Sergeant on 7th May 1859, before being discharged at his own request from the 111th Company at Woolwich on 6th October 1860. Confirmed as his full entitlement.