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Mervyn Mitton

RARE HISTORICAL MILITARIA PRINTS

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Odulf - the French were proBoer and quite anti British in the Boer War. I have a collection of about 50 of the Petite Parisien from this period - it was their colour supplement. They picked out stories and had them illustrated in lurid style and with little regard for accuracy. They delighted in showing the British as aggressors and the drawings always showed them being beaten or, behaving badly. I have never heard of this 'execution' - and I cannot for a moment, think of a British Captain having his decks splattered with blood.

I will be interested to hear if Brett Hendy or, Will Endley have heard of this 'incident' - or, indeed from any member ?

Good Morning Mervyn.......

As soon as I read this I also tried to look up the incident and am afraid that I can not find and record of it happening.......

I think that this is just a bit of propaganda....

Mike

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amazing pieces!

Do you have any problems with dust or age to the oils? Is there any maintenance you need to do with the fabric itself?

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THE EXECUTION OF AN ENGLISH TRAITOR

In the 1970s I picked up the accompanying picture while on holidays in France. It is a page from a French magazine named Supplément Littéraire Illustré du “Petit Parisien”, unfortunately the page is undated but obviously it is from the Boer War. This picture of an execution intrigued me then, but it still puzzles me today, and for many reasons.

jq2dg3.jpg

UN TRAITRE ANGLAIS

EXECUTION D’UN GARDE-SÉMAPHORE

Un garde-sémaphore ainglais a été convaincu de correspondence avec l’ennemi, dans des conditions exceptionellement graves.

Voici comment les faits se sont passes: Ces jours derniers, un navire charché de troupes entrait au port de Durban. Au moment où le bateau passait devant le promontoire en haut duquel se trouve un semaphore l’officier de quart remarqua des signaux de télégraphie optique qui étaient faits de l’autre côté de phare. Il dénonça aussitôt le gardien du semaphore qui fut tout de suit soumis à une surveillance discrete.

Bientôt, on acquit la certitude que ce dernier signalait chaque nouvelle arrive de troupes et d’armes à des complices postés sur une montagne, à quelque distance de là.

Ces complices communiquaient les renseignements, par le meme procédé, de hauteur en hauteur, à des individus qui, en deux ou trios jours, les transmattaient au quartier general boër situé sur la Tugela.

L’ennemi fut ainsi assez exactement renseigné sur les forces anglaises envoyées au general Buller, et qui, toutes, passaient par le port de Durban.

Le gardien du semaphore inculpé fit des aveux; on apprit que ses exercices de télégraphie optique duraient depuis le commencement de la guerre, et que chaque télégramme lui rapportait quinze cents francs. Il avait gagné ainsi environ cent cinquante mille francs: un joli dernier.

C’était un Anglais pur sang, d’une soixantaine d’années; il occupait la place depuis longtemps et avait su inspirer la plus grande contiance.

Sa femme et ses cinq enfants qui ignoraient ce manège se livrèrent à un désespoir déchirant quand on embarqua le gardien à bord d’un navire de guerre où il fut fusillé.

L ‘exécution eut lieu aussi discrètement que possible, mais pas assez cependant pour que le fait ne fût connu par les habitants de Durban.

From the French explanation on the reverse(above) it can be deducted that the culprit was a 60 years old English semaphore guard in the harbour of Durban. He admitted that since the beginning of the (Boer) war he transmitted telegrams containing military information to the Boer HQ on the Tugela River for money (1500 francs a time) and in total he gained 150,000 francs. Thus he informed the Boer HQ at Tugela about the reinforcements general Buller was landing in Durban. He was taken on board a British warship and shot. The execution took place as discreetly as possible, but not enough however so that it was known by the inhabitants of Durban.

First there is the brutality of the scene. Like Admiral Byng in 1757, this (yet) unknown man was shot in the back while sitting on his knees on the deck, blindfolded and facing forward. The only method of capital punishment in the Royal Navy I have knowledge of in the 19th century, is hanging. Did more shootings like this occur on board Navy ships?

In the explanation there is no mention about any form of trial. Why bring a traitor on board of a Navy ship to shoot him? Instead they could have hanged him ashore. Why was the execution carried out by the Navy?

Even stranger is that the shooting is executed by seamen commanded by the MAA instead of a marines detail. The hapless Admiral Byng was shot by marines, rather obvious when you know that most rifle jobs on board were carried out by marines.

And most puzzling is, in all these years I have found no record of this exceptionally execution, and this makes is even more sinister. Why did no local or regional paper report about it? Is it a French hoax perhaps, made up to stir anti-British sentiments? Or is it just a case of juicy journalism based on hear-say? But still, it is an intriguing picture.

|nteresting that the rifles are Martini Henrys. Ian

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Hi Mervyn

Here is the Thin Red Line. This one is an artist’s proof with a pencil drawing of one of the character’s in the corner and a brass plate reading “The Thin Red Lin 93rd Highlanders Repulsing Russian Cavalry Balaklava, 25th October 1854”. This print is by Robert Gibb 1881 and signed by the artist in pencil.

I will post the Nelson Prints next.

Cheers Cathey and Rex

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Hi Mervyn

Here are the two Nelson prints you asked for. The first one has the title “Good-bye, my Lads!” Nelson leaving Portmouth to Sail for Trafalgar on the Victory.” The second print is titled “The Hero of Trafalgar” Nelson on Board the Victory October 21st 1805”.

Cheers Cathey and Rex

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Cathey and Rex - thank you for taking the time to post the prints. For older British people they have great nostalgia - they take you back to a period when Britain was Great and her unemployed were sent to war and didn't riot in the streets.

I come from a family with a military background and as a small boy (prob. 7 or,8) used to sit in my Grandmother's front parlour and look at the 'Thin Red Line' - probably, like all little boys made-up my own stories about them ? Her house was littered with the old slate clocks that used to be given when someone was promoted or, transferred. I would think at that period that most houses in the UK had this print ?

Nelson is another matter - we were brought-up on the stories of his tactics and battles. The farewell before going on board HMS Victory was also to be found in the homes of most of my Grandparents' generation. Poignant and with a sense of history and our former glory ! I lived at Blackheath in London as a boy during the War and often visited the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Once again - thankyou - and I know from comments, that we look forward to seeing others in your collection.

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Odulf's interesting post on the French antiBritish propaganda in Petit Parisien for the Boer War has made me look out some of the copies I have. Only the Front and back covers were coloured lithographs I will show most of them over the next few months - they are now historical documents over 110 years old.

I will show the front and backs of two editions to start :

This first issue - 10th November 1900 - is one of the most famous. The caricature of the British Lion being gored by the Kruger Bull was re-published Worldwide and of course, showed clearly on whose side the French were. You will note the military figures in the background - these were intended to represent the major powers watching with concern. They

represented France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain etc..

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This is the rear cover for the same edition - it is a little more factual in it's approach. The French always talk as if the war was only in the Transvaal - whereas it encompassed all main Provinces. This shows the evacuation from the Transvaal and the arrival of fleeing civilians at Ladysmith in Natal - a distance of some 400 miles (600kms).

One of the interesting portrayels is the presence of African servants and helpers. This did happen and thousands were brought into Natal . I think that there was an encampment within Ladysmith during the siege which had some 2500 African people - and they suffered the same hardships and food shortages.

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I think this is an issue from 1900 - it is the back cover which is of interest. However, this lurid picture on the front cover shows the quality of the magazine - and the readership it was aimed-at. The men are Police detectives and were trying to arrest the woman - however, she had poisonous snakes all over her bed to stop them C'est la vie !

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This is the back cover - it also gained great attention due to it's distorted and biased view of the war.

They are trying to portray how the evil British were being held off by whole families trying to defend their homeland. Good

sentiments - but, as I said - seen through the eyes of an artist trying to sell papers and include some propaganda against the 'other side' at the same time...........

The picture is showing Boer Commandos' firing at the British and their wives and children bringing-up ammunition under British fire. Needless to say, the obligitory 'small boy' has just been shot whilst handing ammo. to his Father. The only way that could have happened is if the Brit. soldier had been in a plane - but, let's not worry too much about accuracy.

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Another early edition of the magazine.

This front cover shows the Boer President Kruger and the British Prime Minister - Chamberlain.

Note the strong propaganda element - at the top, Boers are shown peacefully farming and playing. Underneath

the British are shown as having been killed for attacking the Boers. C'est le Guerre !

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This picture shows that there was respect between the two sides.

English and Boers removing the dead after a skirmish.

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Here is a Thomas Rowlandson (1756 – 1827) print of a London & Westminster Light Horse Volunteer. This unit was raised in 1780 and consisted of 6 Troops.

I have a Tarleton helmet to this unit and the print accompanied that acquisition

Stuart

LondonWestministerLHV.jpg

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Another Rowlandson print this time of the Loyal Islington Volunteer Cavalry. They received their standard in the Spring of 1799 so were presumably raised in this year.

LoyalIslingtonVolCav.jpg

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Loyal Islington Volunteers - the Borough adjoins the City of London and became a working mans' area . Most of the houses were occupied by artisans.

Recently - because of the location , houses have become very popular and prices are high.

I suppose at the date of this print it was still a Country side area and popular with the better off - hence the Vol. Cavalry.

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This is an 1818 etching by an unknown artist and published by R W Fores, 50 Picadilli & Oxford Street.

I originally thought that the left hand figure was the Duke of Wellington but the title is A Russian Dandy a Scene at Aix la Chappelle which is the city of Aachen in Germany. The Treaty of Aix la Chappelle was held in that city in 1748 to end the war of Austrian Succession.

Ahh! Whilst mowing the lawn I was troubled by this one being titled A Russian Dandy and being produced in 1818. When I had finished I looked at a couple of books and indeed the Congress of Aix la Chappelle was the one held in 1818 after Waterloo. I was thinking of the Congress of Vienna which was, of course, held in 1814 after the surrender of the French forces at that time.

So perhaps the figure is the Duke after all.

Stuart

ARussianDandy1818.jpg

Edited by Stuart Bates

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This one is also unattributed but by the same publishers R W Fores and is dated 1819.

Note the spelling of planning as planing and that Hungary is spelt Hungry. A Goose is of course an iron and written on the cloth used to hold the iron is The Farmer's BOY - too topical for me.

Stuart

TheDandyTaylor1819-1.jpg

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This is an 1818 etching by an unknown artist and published by R W Fores, 50 Picadilli & Oxford Street.

I originally thought that the left hand figure was the Duke of Wellington but the title is A Russian Dandy a Scene at Aix la Chappelle which is the city of Aachen in Germany.

Ahh! Whilst mowing the lawn I was troubled by this one being titled A Russian Dandy and being produced in 1818. When I had finished I looked at a couple of books and indeed the Congress of Aix la Chappelle was the one held in 1818 after Waterloo. I was thinking of the Congress of Vienna which was, of course, held in 1814 after the surrender of the French forces at that time.

So perhaps the figure is the Duke after all.

Stuart

I would think so, he has such a unique characteristic profile, and the text confirms it also.
On the left is the British representative the Duke of Wellington and on the right the Russian Czar Alexander I, at the Conference of Aix en Provence in the autumn of 1818. The Conference was about the withdraw of foreign troops still occupying France.

DoW: One may be allowed a variety of Mistresses; but I have such a variety of masters, I shall not know which to serve first.
Czar: I think you will be a little straightened in it.
Our master has put him on a strait coat now, it will be well if he does not get a strait waistcoat by & by.

This said that the Head of the Forces allied // To Drink their Cahampaign & their Sack

Not having a Goat to his Back // Now doubtless this Hero of wonderful note

A generous Monarch, the needful supplied // Had Monarch allowed him to chose

And when thus equipped they sat down side by side // Would have bartered the honor to sit in his boat

for the pleasure to stand in his shoes

Obviously the nickname
Russian Dandy
refers to the remark (believed to have been made by Czar Alexander I at the Congress of Vienna to Wellington when he heard that Napoleon had escaped Elba and was marching for Paris:
It is time for you to save the world again.
Wellington was about to re-enter politics (he was a Tory politician earlier in 1806-1807), and he had many political enemies; finally he would rise to the office of Prime Minister (1828-30) but that was yet unknown ten years earlier. The drawing is thus a sneer to both the Duke of Wellington and the still liberal Russian Czar, who had escaped a kidnapping on his way to the conference.
So, it is a whole story in one drawing. This is a magnificent form of political cartoon for the insiders [of 1818].
Edited by Odulf

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Stuart - two very descriptive old prints. As Odulf says - ' you can't miss Wellington's profile'.

The second one - the fat tailor looks like George 4th and the figure on his right - could that be the D of W again ? G4th was King from 1820 to 1830,

but from 1812 to 1820 was the prince Regent as acting King.

I hope more members will add to this interesting post - history as it was enacted in those early days !

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Mervyn,

well spotted. It could very well be George IV as not only was he a dandy, hence the title, but in later years became an obese glutton and drunkard. The nose doesn't indicate the Duke of Wellington but the angle is not good enough to be definitive. I do wonder what the reference to the Farmer's BOY means.

Stuart

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Here is another etching featuring the Duke of Wellington and George IV. It is titled THE TH___NE in DANGER which I take to be THE THRONE IN DANGER.

Published by J McLean of Haymarket but undated.

Stuart

TheThroneInDanger.jpg

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Stuart this is why the old prints are valuable historical commentaries. George 3rd. was always known as 'The Farmer or, Farmer George' - he was

happiest when on the land and was known to work alongside his men. The ref. to Farmer's Son - is to show that it is the prince Regent

Your latest print is even more interesting. The reference to Thone in Danger - is due to the fat little woman behind the curtain. This is Mrs. FitzHerbert

who the Prince morganaticaly married in secret. The Heir cannot marry without Parliament's permission - and not to a commoner. His form of marriage was to prevent any claim to the throne - however, it made him a bigamist.

The figure in uniform is the Duke of Wellington and he is holding the Great Sword of State. The Dof W was the heriditary High Constable of England - and it is in this capacity that he is warning George of the dangerous act he has committed.

There were only two heriditary High Constables - one for England and the one for Ireland - who was the Duke of Leinster. I have his staff of office in my remaining collection.

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Mervyn,

now that clears up a lot of things, well done. I spoke to Benny yesterday and he has a wonderful caricature of an Argyll & Sutherland Highlander soldier but I see he hasn't posted it as yet.

I have quite a few more of these social commmentaries of the early 19th Century, some by Cruicshank, but they are not military so don't belong here.

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Stuart - I intend to post some general old prints. From those days everything had a link to police or, armed forces. I certainly, will welcome ALL old prints , and I feel sure Brian will back me.

Your entries are looking good on the Photo Comp. - I hope others are going to enter ?

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