|New Zealand 1845-66, reverse dated 1847 (Hy Harris, Corpl. R.M.A, H.M.S. Inflexible)
Henry Harris was born in Wimborne, Dorset in 1816. He enlisted
on March 24, 1834 and served a total of 23 years. Of this, a
little over 10 years was served 'afloat' on the Ships Brittania,
Bellerophon, Inflexible, Royal George and Russell. The majority
of his time was spent as a Private/ Gunner. Although he was
promoted in early 1845 to Corporal, he was subsequently
demoted back to Gunner in April 1847
In addition to the NZ medal, he was awarded a NGS with Syria
clasp while serving on Bellerophon and a Baltic medal while
serving on Royal George.
In the 1871 Census he is shown to be living with his wife Sophia
together with a housekeeper and servant in Bladford Forum
The medal dated 1847 was awarded for service Up River at
Wanganui in May-June 1847.
His medal doesn't have many contact marks but the naming
appears to be rubbed at the beginning and at the end. Of the 20
medals issued with the 1847 dated reverse (14 RN, 6 RM) ,
thirteen are known to exist. In his book naval Medals 1793- 1856
published in 1987, Captain Kenneth Douglas- Morris addresses
the extremely high survival rate:
These First New Zealand War Medals to sailors and marines
have always commanded a wider collecting field than might be
expected for "Naval Medals". The reason probably lies in the
fact that the naval awards carried embossed dates on the
reverse of the medal whereas those awarded to the Army
were, with few exceptions, issued with an undated "Reverse"
Because of this, increased numismatic interest has always
placed these particular naval awards at a value well above the
bullion price, this staving off the melting pot for unsaleable
stock, which in turn has led to their extremely high survival
rate (averaging 54%) ...
HMS Inflexible was a wooden paddle sloop. Built at Pembroke
Dock, launched in 1845 with an armament of 6 guns.
From a History of the 65th Regment...Owing to an attack on a
small garrison of the 58th Regiment in Wanganui and the
murder of Mr. Gilfillan’s family, the Grenadier Company of two
officers and 100 men, under the command of Captain Wolfe,
was dispatched from Auckland on H.M.S Inflexible, arriving 24
May 1847. The warship then proceeded to Wellington, where it
embarked a company of two officers and 116 men, under the
command of Captain O’Connell. A part of this force had been
stationed at Fort Richmond at the Hutt bridge under Capt.
O'Connell, and the remainder of the company had been
employed as a road party on the Porirua road under Lieutenant
M'Coy. The ship departed for Wanganui on 3 June. These two
companies took part in the Battle of St. John's Wood, near
Wanganui, 20 July, 1847.
The murder of the Gilfillans was an act of Utu (retribution)
stemming from an incident where a midshipman of HMS Calliope
(H.E. Crozier) pointed a pistol in jest, at a minor Maori chief
named Ngarangi in April 1847, the charge exploded and Ngarangi
received a head wound Four of the murders were hanged and a
large number of the Wanganui warriors took up arms to avenge
the deaths of the four. Not all historians believe Crozier's
actions were responsible for the Gilfillan massacre, some believe
the Gilfillans were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time
and their remote location contributed to the event.
The Royal Marine Artillery was created in 1804 and originally
consisted of three companies. Through the early part of the 19th
century, the force grew and by June 1847 it comprised of 10
companies consisting of c 1500 men, 70 of which were Corporals
(versus approx. 1250 gunners). The principal destination
contemplated for the Marine Artillery as recited in the Order in
Council, appears to have been for service in bomb-vessels, and to
instruct the other part of the corp of Royal Marines in the
exercise of guns.
Only 50 of the 290 naval medals issued for the 1st NZ war were
issued to the RM, of those 5 were issued with the 1847 reverse
|From an oil-painting by G. Lindauer, in the
Municipal Art Gallery, Auckland
Topine te Mamaku
This old warrior was prominent in the fighting at
the Hutt (1846) and Wanganui (1847). He was
the principal chief of the Ngati-Haua-te-Rangi
Tribe, of the Upper Wanganui. One of his
honorific names was “Te Ika nui o roto o te
Kupenga” (“The Great Fish in the Net”). A
celebrated tribal proverbial saying in reference
to Te Mamaku was: Ka unuunu te puru o Tuhua,
ka maringiringi te wai o puta,” meaning, “If you
withdraw the plug of Tuhua you will be
overwhelmed by the flooding hordes of the
north,” in allusion to this chieftain's strategic
position, holding the passage of the Upper
Wanganui. Te Mamaku died at Tawhata in 1887.
HMS Brittania- Feb 1836- April 1836
Built in 1820, the 'Britannia' returned from the Mediterranean in 1835.
From 1836, she was flagship at Portsmouth and remained there until she
went out of commission from 1842.
HMS Bellerophon- April 1836- June 1841
She began life as the Waterloo after being originally named Talavera.
She was renamed Bellerophon in 1824 and spent most of her time when
not in the mediterranean when she wasn't in British waters. While serving
on her Henry was to earn his first medal
HMS Inflexible- July 1846- September 1849
She was launched in 1845 and while on Board, Henry did see distant
lands, Cape of Good Hope, Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore,
Java and India just to name a few. She played a role in the suppression
of piracy on the China Sea and in April 1849 she had an encounter with
pirate ships off the coast of Hong Kong.
Between August 1846 and September 1849 she circumnavigated the
globe, having steamed more than 64,000 nautical miles and having sailed
only 4,400 nautical miles. Much has been written about the economy of
expanding steam and the vogages of Captain Hoseason of the Inflexible
are often cited.
HMS Royal George- Oct 1853- March 1855
HMS Royal George was a 120-gun first rate ship of the line of the
Royal Navy, launched on 22 September 1827 at Chatham Dockyard.
In 1853 she was fitted with screw propulsion. On 11 Mar 1854 she
departed Spithead, with the fleet, for the Baltic and on 15 Apr 1854
she participated in the capture of the Russian brig Patrioten. It was
on board Royal George that Henry earned a Baltic medal which was
sent to him in 1857 after he had left the service.
HMS Russell- May 1855- September 1855
|LEFT: an illustration of the |
complete medal entitlement
of Henry Harris