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3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards - A Boer War Camp Bed Model, 1902
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3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards - A Boer War Camp Bed Model, 1902

Measurements: Length: 12.3cm (4.75in)

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Silver. A model folding camp bed gifted by the commanding officer of the 3rd Dragoon Guards to his Quartermaster, inscribed 'With Colonel Aspinwall's thanks to Lt. C. Thorne, for many good nights, 1901-2’. Maker’s mark of Williams Comyns. Hallmarked London 1902. Cased.

Lieutenant-Colonel James Henry Aspinwall (1856-1904) commanded the 3rd (Prince of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The regiment sailed for South Africa on 22 January 1901, and on arrival was brigaded with the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards. They participated in the pursuit of the elusive General Christiaan De Wet, and later in frequent sharp fighting in the Orange River Colony, particularly in the Vrede district, but with a comparatively light casualty list.

Colonel Aspinwall became known to the wider public through the Cape ‘ragging’ case that was tried by Court Martial in London at Wellington Barracks in June 1903. The case concerned treatment dished out to a journalist named Hardwicke Stanford (aka ‘The Pimp’ / ‘The Social Barnacle’ / ‘Maltilda Chiffon’) by group of young cavalry officers at a Christmas Eve ball held at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town. Stanford by various accounts was popular with the ladies and apparently had seen action with an irregular unit against the Boers before returnng to journalism. His presumption was to organise the dance and refuse to attend as a mere guest after the military took over the running of the event. When Stanford showed up on the night of the dance and refused to leave, the young officers decided to try him by mock court martial, and, finding him guilty, debagged him, ducked him a fountain, cut off his moustache among other indignities. Stanford, was then forced to sign a document stating he had behaved in a blackguardly way, and deserved everything he had got. Later, when the young officers were summoned to face a civil claim for £3000, Aspinwall refused to give two of the defendants, who were squadron commanders in the 3rd DG, leave to defend themselves, stating the exigencies of war demanded their presence on operations. Ultimately news of the affair, spiced up by reports of an act of gross indecency visited upon Stanford, reached London and questions were asked in Parliament.

Aspinwall was originally commissioned into the 7th Dragoon Guards and served in the Egyptian Expedition of 1882, particpating in the actions at El Magfar, Masameh, and Kassassin, the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and the forced march to Cairo (Medal with Clasp, and Khedive's Star). He exchanged into the 5th Dragoon Guards of which he was Adjutant. Between 1893 and 1898 he was Adjutant of the 2nd Yeomanry Brigade (Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Yeomanry). He married in 1892, Ermine, granddaughter of the punisher of Abyssinia in 1867, Field Marshal Lord Napier of Magadala, at a society wedding celebrated at St. Peter’s, Eaton Square, London.

Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant Charles H. Thorne, 3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards advanced to the Honorary rank of Major in 1911.

 

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