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1st Bengal Fusiliers - East India Company Prize Marching Compass, 1845
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1st Bengal Fusiliers - East India Company Prize Marching Compass, 1845

Measurements: Overall: 3.5cm (1.3in) x 12cm (4.7in) 8.5cm (3.3in)

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Lacquered brass floating white dial marching / surveying compass by Troughton & Simms, London, Contained in its original fitted red morocco case, the hinged lid applied with a silvered nickel plaque inscribed ‘Presented at the Public Examination / on the 9th Dec 1844 / to Gentleman Cadet W.R.H.J. Howell / by the Honble. Court of Directors / or the East India Company / as a mark of the Courts approbation / of his attainments in Military Drawing / while at the Military Seminary.’

Captain W.R.H.J. Howell poceeded to India from the East India Company’s Addiscombe College and joined the 1st Bengal European Fusiliers in the 1845. He became Lieutenant in 1846, and acted as regimental Interpreter and Quartermaster from January 1849. In 1853 he was seconded to the Bengal Commissariat Department as Sub-Assistant Commissary-General in the Kemaon Hills. At the outbreak of the Indian Rebellion in May 1857, the Bengal Fusiliers were ordered to join the Commander-in-Chief in India Major-General the Hon. George Anson and advance on rebels’ rallying point at Delhi. Marching from Ambala with the 9th Lancers in a force commanded by Sir Henry Barnard, a junction was made with Anson at Ambala where the latter died of cholera on 28 May. Howell, who had responsibilities of as Sub-Assistant Commissary-General. On 7 June he fell victim to cholera at Alipore as the Delhi Field Force set out to confront the mutineers in Battle of Badli-ki-Serai (8 June). His name appeared in the long list of officers casualties drawn up by the Adjutant-General’s Office and dated Camp before Delhi, 27 August 1857 (Behan, T.L. (1859), Bulletins and Other State Intelligence for the Year 1857, Part 2). The Bengal Fusliers went on to take part in the Storming of Delhi, the Capture of Lucknow in March 1858, with five members of the regiment being awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions during the rebellion

Troughton & Simms (established in 1826) was the to go firm for precision scientific instruments in the 1840s. The firm’s shop in Fleet Street was the hub of the finest scientific instrument making in London, in a period in which there was growing demand for precision instruments, for astronomy, surveying and precision measurement. They made instruments for Greenwich Observatory, for imperial surveys and exploring expeditions. When fire destroyed the Houses of Parliament in 1834, the firm was commissioned to create new standard lengths, necessitating ten years of testing of the remaining measures. In 1876 they supplied the Imperial Standards Of Length gauges mounted at Trafalgar Square, London.

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