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1896P 16th Queen's Lancers Officer's Sword, Percy Blade, sold

In very good condition, a rare "Percy" (unfullered) bladed Wilkinson made 16th Queen's Lancers officer's sword, original owner Capt. Bertram Douglas MacCulloch.

1821 / 1896 Patt. 16th Queen's Lancers Officer's Sword, Percy Blade, Named Officer

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A very nice sword for a number of reasons, not least that the serial number 37821 is for 1900 yet the blade is etched to King Edward 7th, so the sword was made while Queen Victoria was in failing health ready for her son Edward to take over the British throne upon her death. Interesting too that this has one of the very few so called "Percy" or "Convex" blades, making it very rare indeed.

The blade is etched "B. D. M. 16th Q. L." for Bertram Douglas MacCulloch of the 16th Queens Lancers (see further below). It was probably bought upon news of his impending promotion to Captain and his appointment to the South Nigeria Regiment for the revenge expedition / operation against the people of the Oswerri District who murdered a British doctor. So there is very little doubt that this sword has dispatched some poor souls to the next world.

The 35 inch blade is in very good condition, some patina spots, not many. The blade was period sharpened (not so sharp now) and there are indications of contact near the point; not nicks as you would get against another sword or armour, but slight damage from perhaps a strike on flesh and bone. The blade is firm in the hilt, the hilt is in very good order, the fishskin grip worn but good, the twisted grip wire bindings present and correct. The leather field scabbard is very good for its age, the suspension loop is aged and cracking but sound. The sword sheathes and draws very well.

The value here is in the blade type, regimental markings to the illustrious 16th Lancers and provenance. This sword was offered for sale at a prestigious UK auction house in July 2012 with an upper estimate of £1000; if you had bought it at that "hammer price", you would have paid £1350 including premium (auction commission), etc. So our price is very good and low indeed, not least as buying at auction is far more fraught with risk than buying from us, as we more fully describe / disclose the condition of our swords. Further / full sized pictures available upon request. Please quote item reference number D15 (701)

Bertram Douglas MacCulloch was born in March 1877 and appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Dragoon Guards direct from the Royal Military College in February 1897. Exchanging into the 16th Lancers in the rank of Lieutenant in October 1899, he was advanced to Captain in December 1901 and subsequently gained an appointment in the South Nigeria Regiment.

And it was in this capacity that he joined the 1905-06 punitive expedition under Brevet Major J. M. Trenchard, Royal Scots Fusiliers and Captain G. T. Mair, Royal Field Artillery, an operation mounted in response to the particularly unpleasant murder of Dr. Stewart in the Oswerri District, an incident summarised by Richard Magor in his Africa General Service Medals, from which the following extracts have been taken:

‘This medical officer was new to Nigeria and was travelling alone through the bush on his bicycle and lost his way. Accounts vary as to what happened. Some say Stewart was murdered as he slept, others that he was captured, trussed up naked and carried alive from village to village with bits being cut off as ‘juju’ until finally he was decapitated and eaten. All however agree that his body was cut up into small pieces and distributed around for consumption as a fetish. All those who ate a piece of Dr. Stewart would henceforth be released from the white man’s domination and protected from any harm from a European ... There was severe fighting which did not really end until those responsible for Stewart’s murder were captured, summarily tried and hanged ... Dr. Stewart’s skull and bones, except for the hands and left leg, were eventually surrendered and sent to Calabar for burial.’

Trenchard and Mair received D.S.Os, while for his own part MacCulloch qualified for the relevant Medal & clasp and returned home on sick leave in August 1906. Two years later, after fracturing a leg in two places in a polo accident, he reverted to half-pay.

Having then been placed on the Reserve of Officers, MacCulloch was recalled on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 and went out to France as a Captain in the 16th Lancers in early October 1914, official records confirming that he was hit in his previously injured leg by a shell splinter ‘or something’ at Bailleul on 1 November 1914. No doubt as a result, he was transferred to No. 22 Remount Squadron in March 1915, in the temporary rank of Major, and remained similarly employed until ordered home that July as a result of an altercation with a French cab driver at Marseilles, MacCulloch striking the latter with his whip - and apparently a Gendarme who arrived on the scene shortly afterwards.

In July 1916, MacCulloch was embarked for East Africa for command of a Mounted Infantry unit, but owing to a shortage of horses, ended up as second-in-command of the 1st Battalion, 3rd King’s African Rifles, an unhappy appointment due to his old leg injury and, it would appear, some disagreements over patrol work. He once more returned home, where he would appear to have rejoined the 16th Lancers, and was eventually placed on the Retired List in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 1920s. He died in Brighton February 1940.

See also his peerage listing

Further research warranted for Bertram Douglas MacCulloch? We have seen some details that he migrated to the USA for a short time.

 

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