The very good and scarce India General Service Medal 1854-1895, 1 Clasp: Persia, awarded to Captain later Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W.F. Hunter, 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry, Indian Army, who served as the Aide-de-Camp to Major General Foster Stalker during the operations in Persia under Major General Sir James Outram in the period from 5th December in 1856 through to 1st April 1857, and was specifically present at the capture of Bushire in December 1856, being subsequently recommended for promotion by Major General Outram, he received a Brevet Majority. Having missed service during the Indian Mutiny due to a period of home leave, he returned to India in 1860, and was then posted to the 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry from February 1861, and promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on 31st December 1861. He died in service in February 1862 whilst at Bombay.
India General Service Medal 1854-1895, 1 Clasp: Persia; (CAPT. W.F. HUNTER, A.D.C.)
Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.
William Francis Hunter was born on 20th June 1820 in Hollybush, near Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland, the third son of Andrew Hunter of Doonholm, and of Bonnytoun, Ayrshire, and his wife, Helen, the eldest daughter of John Campbell of Ormidale, Argyll. Commissioned as a Cornet into the East India Company’s Bombay Cavalry on 16th April 1837, he was then appointed to the 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry on 22nd April 1838, being promoted to Lieutenant on 22nd April 1840, and to Captain on 8th May 1849.
Hunter was then present during the operations in Persia under Major General Sir James Outram in the period from 5th December in 1856 through to 1st April 1857, when he served as the Aide-de-Camp to Major General Foster Stalker, and present at the capture of Bushire in December 1856, being subsequently recommended for promotion by Major General Outram.
The short lived war in Persia was caused by various political miscalculations by both the Persians and the British, and was triggered by the annexation of the Afghanistan city of Herat by the Persians on 25th October 1856, a city that was considered to be the key to Afghanistan. The British declared war on 1st November 1856 and instead of an expected land based invasion, the British decided to retaliate both on land and at sea. On 9th December, the fort at Reshire was captured at the expense of 11 killed in action and 29 wounded. The first Victoria Cross to the Indian Army was awarded for this action.
On the 10th, an Indian Naval Squadron commanded by Commodore Young bombarded Bushire in the Persian Gulf, which surrendered. On the arrival of Major General Sir James Outram with an expeditionary force, and advance was made inland from Bushire to Borasjoon, where many stores were captured on 8th February 1857. On the same day, during their immediate withdrawal, the force was attacked at Koosh-ab and the Persians were heavily defeated. British casualties were 16 killed in action and 56 wounded with two Victoria Crosses being awarded, both to the officers of the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. After his return to Bushire, Outram left Major General Stalker to hold the town, whilst he crossed the Persian Gulf and advanced up the Euphrates delta to Mohammerrah, some 60 miles inland. Here on 26th March 1857, the Navy bombarded the Persian positions and forts. Naval casualties were 5 killed in action and 18 wounded. After a short while the enemy positions were either silenced or completely destroyed, and troops were landed under Brigadier General Havelock, who promptly entered the city, captured a further large supply of stores. He very generously gave full credit for the ease with which he accomplished his mission to the navy, who in turn owed its immunity from heavy casualties to the foresight of the Acting Commodore James Rennie, who gave orders for the bombarding ships to be surrounded with trusses of hay!
The Persians withdrew to Akwaz, about 100 miles up the Karoon River, where they were again attacked by a combined expedition, the navy under Acting Commodore Rennie and a small force composed of about 300 men from the 64th and 78th Foot under Captain G.H. Hunt, 78th Foot. The town was captured with no British casualties on 1st April 1857, after which the force returned to Mohammerrah, where it learnt that peace had been signed in Paris on 4th March, under the terms of which Herat was to be evacuated by the Persians.
On his return from Persia, Hunter was gazetted as a Brevet Major into the Bombay Army on 24th July 1860, this being back dated to 19th January 1858, and awarded in respect of his services in Persia. He had been on leave between 1858 and 1860 and had not participated in the Indian Mutiny, but whilst at home, he had married Eliza, the eldest daughter of William Burnley, at Edinburgh on 24th November 1859. By then the eldest surviving son, Hunter inherited the family estates from his father on that man’s death in 1856, but he sold them whilst on home leave in 1860.
He then returned to India, and was promoted to Major with the 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry on 6th February 1861, and was then promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on 31st December 1861, however he then died in Bombay on 25th February 1862, shortly before his promotion was officially gazetted on 25th March 1862. By this time, he and his wife had had two sons, born in 1860 and 1861 respectively, and his widow later remarried in London in 1865, but died in Ireland in 1867.