Candahar 1842 – 4th Coy 2nd Batt Arty, Died in Candahar 29th July 1842 (Probably present at the Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie 1842)
Candahar 1842, Gunner John Slater 4th Company 2nd Batt. Arty.) naming officially engraved in running script. fitted with later silver clip and straight bar suspension
Men from 4th Company 2nd batt Artillery took part in the Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie in 1842 and went on to Kandahar afterwards. These men received the Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie 1842 medal and the Kandahar 1842 medal, with a total of 86 Kelat-i-Ghilzie medals issued to them (of which only 1 officer and 43 men were Europeans) and only 28 receiving the Candahar medal.
The garrison of the fortress, commanded by Captain John Halkett Craigie, Bengal Native Infantry, must have felt especially isolated and abandoned after the withdrawal of British forces from the north of Afghanistan in the Winter of 1841. It numbered only 932 men, of whom only 55 were Europeans (mainly officers and Bengal artillery personnel) and 877 Indians. The defence force, all of the East India Company establishment with no British component, comprised:
569 loyal Afghan infantry in the form of Shah Shuja’s 3rd Infantry Battalion
Three companies (247 officers and men) of the 43rd Bengal Native Infantry
86 personnel of 4 Co., 2nd Battalion. One officer and 43 men were Europeans
23 officers and men of the 2nd and 3rd Bengal Sappers and Miners
7 miscellaneous British officers eg surgeons, transport and commissariat
The small garrison worked on the strengthening of the fort’s defences, during bitterly cold weather, from November 1841 as British fortunes in Afghanistan waned. From January to May 1842, the garrison was closely besieged and under constant fire, their circumstances compounded by severe cold and a lack of supplies, medicines and foodstuffs. Battle casualties aside, most of the garrison were in a very weakened state by the end of the siege.
Finally, on 19 May 1842, a force under Colonel Wymer was ordered out by General Nott from Kandahar to relieve the isolated garrison and evacuate the post, after slighting the defences. Before the relief force arrived, the garrison repulsed one final major attack by 6,000 Afghans on 21 May 1842. A few days after this, on 26 May, the garrison was finally relieved and the whole force returned to Kandahar. Some of the garrison also earned one of the other medals for the 1842 campaigns but many of those who had survived the siege died of their injuries or the results of privation in the weeks that followed.
John Slater died on the 29th July 1842 and is buried in Kandahar, although his death is recorded on the roll of deaths on the return March from Kandahar to Peshawar.
Sadly there is no medal roll for the Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie, however we believe that it is highly likely that John Slater was present with 4 Coy 2nd Batt Arty, and subsequently died as a result of his service in the siege.
Condition – GVF.