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Dear All,
I am flummoxed; even more so than when I was trying to identify the Rifle Volunteer uniform I posted yesterday. Please correct me if I am wrong, as I surely must be, but this looks to me to be the uniform of a senior officer of the Royal Navy, wearing a sash I don't recognise, together with the insignia of a KCB; a Crimea Medal (reverse showing); a Second China War Medal without clasp (obverse showing); a Turkish Crimea Medal with a replacement suspension; and the breast badge of a Knight of the French Légion d'honneur.   Although apparently a photograph of an engraving, the detail of the medals is so precise that I find it unlikely in the extreme that it is not an absolutely faithful portrait of someone - but who?

Of the officers of the Royal Navy who received the fifth class of the Légion d'honneur, only 26 failed to receive another foreign order. According to Kevin Asplin's published roll, only one of these served in China and earned a Second China War Medal: Surgeon Richard D. Mason, RN. He, however, received a clasp for Canton 1857, (and does not appear to have been knighted) so can be ruled out of contention.

It seems that I have successfully ruled out every possible candidate. One of my assumptions must be wrong.   Which is it?   What is that sash, anyway?   Is he an RN officer at all?   Help, please!

RN Officer.jpg

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It is possible that the LdH was an officers badge I have frequently seen them in groups without the rosette. The picture also may have been done at some time after the  2nd China War and he may have been just a CB at the time of the Crimean War, he looks fairly ancient (unless the rum did that). Also we fought alongside the French in the Second Chinese War and so I am not sure whether there were any French awards for British for that campaign as to the sash I think it's a case of God knows and he not telling.


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I agree that this must be a name-able individual - clearly a portrait and not a generic 'officer of the...' so the medla combo is probably broadly correct and may be completely correct, but as Paul says we weren't ALWAYS at wore with France except for the Crimea and, just possibly, the artist cribbed some of the medal details from another bloke, not realizing that people such as we would care 150 years later!  

In conclusion?  "God knows and He's not telling." :(

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After the wild distribution of hundreds of Légions d'honneur during the Crimea, the French were far more parsimonious in the Second China War.   I don't have RN figures to hand, but I know that only five awards were made to the Army, so the chances are very high that the award was for the Crimea.

Yes, it may be that a rosette is missing, but I am loath to start guessing what might be missing, as that way lies madness: a missing Mejedie would open the field up wonderfully!

He may not even have had a CB in the Crimea (I'm betting he didn't: men with CBs usually picked up two or three foreign awards), but I have run out of candidates before I even start looking at the Order of the Bath. :(

Someone must know what that unprintable sash is, and I bet it is important . . . 

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Well, what do you know?   On another forum is a man who owns an oil painting based on the photograph.   He writes: 

Smart, Sir William.jpg


It follows that the sash must be either (a) indicative of an RN Medico, (which seems unlikely, as we would otherwise see them much more frequently) or (b) indicative of an appointment as Hon. Physician to the Queen (my best guess at present).

I am not sure I will ever forgive Smart for wearing a Second China suspension on his First China Medal (or a complete Second China Medal, if that is what he has done).   It makes the task of identifying sitters by their medal entitlements very difficult if they wear the wrong medals!

Edited by mikehm
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