Crimean War Troop Transporting Officer’s pair award to Engineer Alexander Gray, Royal Navy, who saw service delivering troops to the Crimea aboard the former Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company Himalaya, that had been initially chartered by the Government for troop transport in February 1854, but was then bought for trooping duties later in the year. At the time she was the largest iron paddle steamer in the world, being said to be the biggest ship built up to that time. Himalaya had accommodation for 200 first and second class passengers, requiring a crew of 213, and could accommodate 2000 troops or emigrants. She made a number of trooping voyages to the Crimea during the course of the war.
Crimea Medal 1854-1856, no clasp, neatly engraved in upright serif capitals in a style common to medals engraved by Hunt and Roskell; (ALEXR. GRAY. ENGINEER. H.M.S. S.S. HIMALAYA. 1856.); Turkish Crimea Medal 1855, British issue, a Hunt and Roskell finer quality privately produced example fitted with scroll suspension, named in engraved capitals; (ALEXR. GRAY. ENGR. SOUTHN. 1859.), mounted swing style for display.
Condition: Good Very Fine or better.
Alexander Gray is confirmed as having seen service as an Engineer aboard the troopship and converted passenger ship Himalaya, formerly of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and would appear to have been one of the crew who were transferred briefly into the Royal Navy when this vessel was chartered to carry troops to Constantinople.
At the time the largest iron paddle steamer in the world, being said to be the biggest ship built up to that time, Himalaya had accommodation for 200 first and second class passengers, requiring a crew of 213, and could accommodate 2000 troops or emigrants.
Launched on 24th May 1853, she did not carry out sea trials till 9th January 1854. The new ship left the Thames on 12th January 1854 for Southampton, arriving the following day, and then on 21st January sailed on her maiden voyage to Alexandria in Egypt, via Gibraltar and Malta, with passengers, mail and specie for onward carriage to India and China. By the time she returned to Southampton on 16 February, Himalaya had been chartered to carry troops to Constantinople. In early March she sailed from Southampton and Plymouth for the Mediterranean with 1452 troops and equipment.
P&O had concluded that Himalaya was a larger vessel than the passenger traffic demanded and, with coal becoming more expensive with the advent of war in the Crimea, would not be economic. In July 1854, after another trooping voyage, to Scutari, the company was able to persuade the British Government to buy her to use as a troopship for £133,000, a little above her cost price of £130,000. After purchase, Himalaya was converted to carry up to 3000 soldiers and subsequently served as a troopship for four decades.
Gray saw service delivering troops to the Crimean War, and is confirmed on the medal roll of those men aboard Himalaya who qualified, this Crimea Medal without clasp being sent to him whilst still aboard Himalaya on 12th August 1856