The regimentally rare Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 2 Clasps: Egypt, Corunna, awarded to Gunner William Miller, Royal Artillery, who came from Derryloran, County Tyrone, and saw service with the 4th Battalion. Present during the the campaign in Egypt from 2nd March to 2nd September 1801, he then later saw service during the Peninsular War, and fought in Portugal at the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809. He is one of only two men from the Royal Artillery to receive the medal with this exact two clasp combination, out of 31 such combinations awarded to the army.
Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 2 Clasps: Egypt, Corunna; (W. MILLER, GUNNER, R. ARTY.)
Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.
Provenance: formerly part of the Lt. Colonel Vigor’s Collection when sold at Sotheby’s in July 1991.
William Miller, surname also shown as Millar, was born in Derryloran, County Tyrone, Ireland, and having worked as a weaver, then attested for service with the British Army at Cookstown on 29th June 1793, joining as a Gunner the Royal Artillery. Posted to the 4th Battalion, he went on to see service during the the campaign in Egypt from 2nd March to 2nd September 1801.
Napoleon had visions of world domination and, as part of his strategy, he decided to move into Egypt as a stepping stone to the East. Hence in 1801, Napoleon's Army of the East under Marshal Baron Jacques de Menou occupied Egypt. Soon a British expedition under General Sir Ralph Abercromby, with additional forces from India and the Cape of Good Hope, commanded by Major General Baird, was despatched to Egypt to conquer the country. Abercromby's force landed at Aboukir Bay on 8th March 1801, and forced the French back towards Alexandria. A fierce action was fought at Mandora on the 13th March. The French were then driven back to Alexandria which lies on a thin neck of land with the sea to the north and Lake Mareotis to the south.
Between the 13th to 21st March, the two armies faced each other on this thin strip of land, then the French attacked the British position and, led by the Invincible Legion, broke through. Wheeling left, the French encircled the 28th Foot which, attacked in both front and rear, earned its right to wear two badges on the head-dress, one in front and one behind. After severe fighting, the Invincible Legion surrendered to Major Stirling, 42nd Foot, and handed over their standard. General Abercromby was fatally wounded in this battle and Lieutenant General John Hely-Hutchinson assumed command. He contained the French garrison in Alexandria and attacked Cairo, which surrendered in mid-June. General Menou, besieged in Alexandria, refused to surrender and a landing was made by General Coote to the west of the town. The fort of Marabout, which stood on an island in the harbour, was captured by the 54th Foot, which is the only regiment to have this honour on its colours. Severe fighting ensued both to the west and east of the town which capitulated in August. Throughout the conflict, British seapower had been very effective in preventing French attempts to reinforce their Army.
Miller was still in service for the Peninsular War, and fought in Portugal at the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809 before being evacuated from the Iberian Peninsular. He was eventually discharged as a result of the reduction of the army on 30th November 1818 after 25 years and 244 days service.
Miller is one of only two men from the Royal Artillery to have lived to claim the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 with this 2 Clasp combination of Egypt and Corunna. In all 31 medals with this exact two clasp combination were claimed.