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War Office Despatch Box - Deputy Adjutant General, 1871
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War Office Despatch Box - Deputy Adjutant General, 1871

Measurements: 46cm (18in) x 30cm (12in) x 15cm (6in)

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Black tooled hide over pine. The hinged lid fitted with swing carrying hand to ensure the box is locked before carriage, the lid embossed with the ‘VR’ cypher of Queen Victoria, and the leading chamfered edge inscribed 'Deputy Adjutant General'. The interior fitted with document compartments and removable compartmentalised tray, glass inkwell, and cased quill knife by Evans & Stevens of Downgate Hill. Fitted with a Mordan & Co. lock. The inside edge stamped ‘Wickwar  & Co / 8 Poland Street / Manufacturers to H.M. Stat.y Office. Complete with original key.

The present despatch box was the workhorse of General J.W. Armstrong, late of St. George’s Square, Westminster and the War Office, Whitehall. General Armstrong belonged to a distinguished military family from County Fermanagh. His father Major Thomas Armstrong of Lisgoole served in the 1826 Seige of Bhurtpore and later joined the Bengal Civil Service. His grandfather also served in India an aide-de-camp to Marquess Wellesley, and later as a military agent to Wellington in the Iberian Peninsula; and as an aide-de-camp to the Duke of York in London.

Lieutenant-General James Wells Armstrong, C.B. (1823-1880) was born in India and was commissioned Ensign into the 49th (The Princess of Wales’s) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot in 1843. Following the outbreak of war with Russia in 1854, he landed with his regiment in the Crimea and was appointed brigade-major of the 3rd Brigade in Major-General Sir George De Lacy Evans’s 2nd Division. He was present at the battles of the Alma River, Balaclava and, on 5 November 1854, at the fog-shrouded battle of Inkerman where he ‘led a brilliant and successful attack with the few men he could gather in the crisis of the battle’. Later the same day, he commanded one of the two storming parties that broke into the Russian held Quarries and was severely wounded yet refused to be evacuated whilst the threat of a counter-attack persisted. Awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the Order of the Medjidie, and advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel for his war services, Armstrong afterwards served at Horse Guards and was placed on half pay in 1860. He became a Companion of the Bath and Deputy Adjutant General in 1871. His final appointment in 1876 was as Inspector-General of Reserve Forces. He married Laura, daughter of D. Denne, of Elbridge House, Kent, and had issue. His Crimean War letters and papers are held in The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

 

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