On 18 June 1815, over 140,000 soldiers fought at the Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon, the French Emperor, was finally defeated in his plans to control Europe. The victory at Waterloo by the British Duke of Wellington and Britain’s allies was the final battle of many in the long French and Napoleonic Wars spanning from 1793 to 1815. Among those who survived are individuals represented in the MAAS collection who had eventually made their way to Australia as a continuation of their military career or public service.
Major JH Crummer
It is testimony to Waterloo’s importance that it was the origins of the modern military campaign medal – the Waterloo medal – given to all participants killed in action, regardless of rank and next-of-kin. To qualify meant serving in one or more of the battles at Ligny (16 June), Quatre Bras (16 June) or Waterloo itself. The Waterloo Medal in the Museum’s collection was awarded to Captain J H Crummer with a personal silver bar added by him to record his participation in action on the Spanish / Portuguese Peninsular Wars and at Quatre Bras (France).
Although Crummer sustained a severe leg wound at Waterloo, he was Commandant at Kalamos in the Ionian Islands during the Greek War of Independence (1821-28). Afterwards, he arrived in Sydney with his Greek wife and a growing family in 1835 with the 28th of Foot (North Gloucestershire) Regiment. In 1840 he was promoted to major and in the same year retired to serve as police magistrate in New South Wales.
In 1847, long after his Waterloo Medal, Crummer had the opportunity to apply for the belated Military General Service Medal (1793-1814) which officially recognised the battles recorded on the unofficial silver bar he had earlier added to his Waterloo medal. While 21 silver bars for each battle were authorised, Crummer’s impressive eight bars on his medal record his participation from 1810 at “BUSACO, ALBUHERA, VITTORIA, PYRENEES, NIVELLE, NIVE, ORTHES, and TOULOUSE.” Major Crummer died at Port Macquarie in 1867 and his widow in 1907 in Sydney.
There was resentment in the army that only Waterloo veterans had received a medal. This left out those who had fought in the many battles of the Spanish Peninsular spanning the two decades prior. One expression of this discontent can be seen in the first medal issued in Australia,the 1819 hand-engraved regimental medal issued by the 48th (Northamptonshire) Foot to its own troops while stationed in Australia (1817-1824). The Museum’s example was awarded to Thomas Hewit and engraved by the noted Sydney silversmith, Samuel Clayton. Hewit’s medal features hand engraved details of his regiment and name with the reverse listing the battles in which he participated: “TALAVERA / ALBUERA / RODRIGO / BADAJOS / SALAMANCA / VITTORIA / PYRENEES / NIVELLE / ORTHES / TOULOUSE.”
Hewit was a clarinettist and often attended musical evenings at Government House in Governor Macquarie’s time at which he accompanied performances by Mrs Macquarie. In 1822 he returned with his family to England due to “pulmonary affection from playing the bassoon” The absence of a later Military General Service medal would strongly suggest Hewit didn’t survive to the time the medal was announced in 1847.
Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell
Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell was the third Surveyor General of NSW and a noted explorer. He also received the Military General Service Medal of 1793-1814. It has 5 bars comprising “CIUDAD RODRIGO, BADAJOZ, SALAMANCA, PYRENEES, ST SEBASTIAN” where he served as a Lieutenant with the 95th Foot. His surveying skills for which he would become so noted were honed on the battlefields of the Spanish Peninsular while he was obtaining topographical intelligence and later producing plans of the major Spanish and Portuguese (Peninsular) battlefields after the war. As famous at the time for his clashes with Governors and Aboriginal people defending their territory as for his explorations of eastern Australia, he briefly entered parliament in 1844. He died in 1855 of pneumonia from a chill while surveying and is buried at Camperdown cemetery, Newtown.
Major Jonathon Croft
An early hand-tinted photograph of an aged Jonathon Croft shows him in dress uniform wearing medals that marked defining moments in his career (at the top of this post). Most notable is his Waterloo Medal, a battle in which he played a prominent role tending the wounded, together with the Military General Service Medal (1793-1814) for which it is recorded he had six bars: BADAJOS, SALAMANCA, VITTORIA, PYRENEES, and SAN SEBASTIAN.
Jonathan Croft was born in London in 1785 and joined the Army Medical Department in 1805. Promoted to rank of Deputy Purveyor of Army in 1812, his part in the Napoleonic Wars saw him wounded twice and taken captive. He served with distinction and an excerpt from a report dated 7 July 1815 from the Surgeon to the King stated:
“I feel the greatest pleasure in bearing testimony to the indefatigable exertions made by the zealous officer, Croft, Esq., in charge of his station, in the several duties of his department, in the entire care of the Waterloo wounded (full 35,000 men), to whom this station and the public service will be ever deeply indebted.”
It is tempting to imagine that in his duties assisting the wounded, Croft had contributed to the survival of Captain Crummer whose leg, as mentioned above, had been wounded at Waterloo.
On 10 May 1820, Croft married Ann Filch. He became Purveyor in 1826 and was awarded the Maltese Cross for work in connection with plague patients in Malta. In 1827 he was appointed to the Military General Hospital at Cork in Ireland. He then became Deputy Purveyor at the Sydney (Rum) Hospital in 1836. . Croft died in 1862 aged 77 and is buried in St Jude’s churchyard, Randwick.
Post by: Paul Donnelly, curator
Major HP (Pat) Boland OAM, Curator / Honorary Numismatist (1961-2006) labels and notes for Sydney Mint displays
‘Mosman Neutral and Middle Harbour Resident’ (published 1904-1907), March 23, 1906 (on file)
‘British Battles and Medals’, by EC Joslin, AR Litherland, BT Simpkin, Spink, 1988
D. W. A. Baker, ‘Mitchell, Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792–1855)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.