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Mug commemorating 'Sergeant Davies defending the Colours at Inkermann', 1854

Hard paste porcelain of Continental manufacture, probably transfer-printed in England, 1854 (c).

This mug reproduces an image from a print in Cassell's 'Illustrated Family History' depicting a Grenadier Guardsman, Sergeant Davies, defending the Regiment's Colours against Russian infantry. The subject has been identified as Colour-Sergeant Poolfield Davis, 1st (or Grenadier) Regiment of Foot Guards, who served at the Battle of Alma but not, as it emerges, at the Battle of Inkerman. A letter amongst the National Army Museum's Collection of Wetherall Papers from Captain George Higginson, Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion, 1st (or Grenadier) Regiment of Foot Guards, dated 5 February 1855, explains the history behind this myth:

'There is another Serjeant of the 3rd Battalion who is the source of much annoyance to us all: I allude to Serjt. Davies and his correspondence with the Newspapers regarding his exploits, &c. Now we all know very well that he saw less of the fighting at Alma than any soldier in the Battalion as he chose to remain at the rear with Burgoyne who was severely wounded early in the action. He was sent on board ship two days before the battle of Inkermann, and yet he actually has the impudence, in one of the letters I have read in a Newspaper, to say that he was present in all the affairs from 20th Sept. to 7th November!! The N.C.O.[s] of the Battalion are furious, of course. I should be inclined myself to laugh, and let the great overgrown brute swagger a la Bobadil were it not that I hear people are making him presents and writing him flattering notices on his prowess, his claim to which he has not the candour to disavow.'

Identical mugs were also produced, in which the name in the title is given as Sergeant Thomas. Sergeant-Major William Thomas of the Grenadier Guards was noted in his records for having shown 'Gallant conduct for Battle of Alma where he carried the colour after the officer carrying it was wounded.' Although Thomas was commended for his bravery in a different action, it seems likely that his name was substituted when it was realised that he was more worthy of public acclaim than Davies.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1999-01-144-1

Copyright/Ownership

National Army Museum Copyright

Location

National Army Museum, Society gallery

Object URL

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1999-01-144-1

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