Afghanistan Medal 1878-80. No clasp (1st. Corpl. G. Ashmon. Bo: S & M.)
Note: Medal is officially engraved and exactly as issued with no corrections, to 'G. Ashmon' (sic) - the recipient being 'Joseph Ashman'
Typical of the prolific transcription / transliteration errors with medals of the Indian Army for the Afghan War, of the British & Indian casualties of the Bombay Sappers & Miners 'killled-in-action' at Maiwand and whose details were published in the London Gazette issue of 19 November 1880 - the majority of the names have transcription / transliteration errors compared to the names published in the 'The Military Engineer in India'. Volume 1 (Sandes, 1933) - including Sergeant Edward D. Heaphy, shown variously as 'Heapy' & 'Heaphy'
Important: The recipient 1st Corporal Joseph Ashman (Royal Engineers) attached to No 2. Company Bombay Sappers & Miners was 'Killed-in-Action' at Maiwand, Afghanistan, on 27th July 1880 - and possibly one of the 'Last 11' that fought to the death led by his officer - Lieutenant T. R Henn (Royal Engineers) - the only British Officer amongst the 'Last Eleven, and who led the 'Last Eleven' men in the fatal final charge, and last action at Maiwand
Joseph Ashman, son of William Ashman (Scale Maker Journeyman) & Mary Ashman (nee) was a native of Shoreditch, Middlesex, England, where he was born on 1848. The 1851 National Census for England & Wales shows Joseph residing with his family at the 'Workhouse' located at 'Land of Promise,' Saint Leonard Shoreditch, Shoreditch, London & Middlesex, England. In 1851, Joseph's family comprised his parents, and 4 x siblings (elder sisters Mary Ashman & Sarah Ashman, and brothers Thomas Ashman and Charles Ashman. Joseph joined the British Army sometime prior to 1868, and was posted to the Corps of Royal Engineers, where he was given the regimental number. Joseph subsequently served in the Abyssinia Campaign of 1868, at which time he was serving with the 10th Company R.E. (reference the respective campaign medal roll vide WO). By the time of the 1871 National Census for England & Wales, Joseph is recorded as a Sapper, serving with the Royal Engineers at Dover Castle, Chatham, Kent. Sometime in or chose 1871, Joseph chose to transfer for service with the British Cadre of 'Non Commissioned Officer' from the Royal Engineers who served with the Bombay Sappers & Miners of the Bombay Sappers & Miners of the Bombay Presidency Army. The number of European NCO's attached to the Bombay Sappers & Miners was not high (in 1885 the number was set at 25) with only 2-3 European N.C.O.s attached to each of the Field Company's. By the time of the Afghan War, Joseph was holding the rank of 1st Corporal and serving with 2nd Company Bombay Sappers & Miners, as part of the Kandahar Field Force.
At Maiwand, on 27 July 1881, the only 'Sapper' unit attached to the Brigade led by Brigadier General G. R. S. Burrows, was 2nd Company Bombay Sappers & Miners. 1st Corporal Joseph Ashman, together with Sergeant Edward D. Heaphy (both Royal Engineers) was one of only 2 x European NCO's serving with a half-company of the 2nd Company Bombay Sappers and Miners, under command of Lieutenant T. R. Henn, Royal Engineers. In total Henn's understrength Sapper unit comprised only 44 x All-Ranks, European and Indian. Reference Volume I 'The Military Engineer in India' (Sandes, 1933):
An Indian regiment broke, others followed suit, and all was confusion. The 66th Regiment (British) fought most stubbornly and lost nearly two-thirds of its men, but it could not check the rout. Yet among the Indian soldiers were some whose courage rose as high as that of their British comrades. The Bombay Sappers and Miners under Lieutenant T. R. Henn earned undying fame on the stricken field of Maiwand. They were the last of all the troops to leave the line of battle. When the tide of retreat swept over them as they lay in support of the Horse Artillery they still remained a formed body and did not retire till they had covered the withdrawal of the guns. Henn and 14 of his men then joined a party of the 66th Regiment and some Bombay Grenadiers, and these 90 soldiers made a most determined stand in a small enclosure at a place called Khig. So grim was their bearing that the Afghans dared not close with them. The defenders fired steadily, losing man after man, until only 11 were left, and these 11 charged out at last and fought to the death in the masses of the enemy. Henn was the only officer in that gallant band, and he led the final charge. He died as Durnford, another Royal Engineer, had done in the previous year at Isandlwana in Zululand. He might have joined in the general retirement; but he chose instead to die, and he died in good company
The London Gazette issue of 19 November 1880, gave below casualty analysis for 2 Company Bombay Sappers at Maiwand:
No. 2 Co., Sappers and Miners.—European officers killed 1; European non-commissioned officers and men killed 2. Total 3. Native non-commissioned officers and men killed 15. Total 15. Native officers wounded 1; Native non-commissioned officers and men wounded 6. Total 7. Followers killed 6
Note: A search of the digitized India Office Collections shows nil records of anyone called Ashmon (sic) having ever been born, served, married or died in British India - similarly there is no record of anyone called G Ashman or Ashmon ever having served in the Royal Engineers in the in the period 1870-1880.
What is certain is that 1st Corporal Joseph Ashman was one of the immortal band of British and Indian Sappers that fought and died on the field at Maiwand - possibly - at the side of his commanding officer - which latter was amongst the 'Last Eleven'
A rare and desirable Maiwand casualty medal
Condition: Traces of lacquer about GVF