British Pattern 1857 Engineers Officer’s Sword
A late-Victorian Royal Engineers (Militia) officer’s sword and scabbard, with the officer’s initials and crest identifying it to a DSO and Legion of Honour winner, who fought in the Second Anglo-Boer War and WW1. The hilt of 1857 Royal Engineers pattern, mounted on a fantastically etched 1845 pattern blade by top maker Pillin (marked to ricasso). The shagreen and wire grip is in excellent condition, although with a little bit of movement on the tang due to the loss of the leather washer. There is a significant amount of original gilding remaining to the hilt, particularly on the inside. The blade has some patina, but is in good condition and the etching is very deep and crisp. The edge is service sharpened, though not really sharp anymore. The scabbard has the usual service-related dents to the lower end. This sword belonged to John Harvey Prior, of the Militia Engineers (Falmouth Division). Prior was born on 14 December 1871 and commissioned into the Militia Engineers in 1893, when this sword must date to. He served in the South African War from 1899 to 1901, being employed as Station Staff Officer from 10 February 1901, and was present in operations in Orange River Colony, May to 29 November 1900; operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, 1899 to 1900, including the actions at Colesberg 1 January to 12 February 1900; operations in the Transvaal, May 1901; operations in Orange River Colony 30 November 1900 to May 1901. For his services he was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 10 September 1901]; was awarded the Queen’s Medal with four clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: “John Harvey Prior, Lieutenant, Plymouth Division, Royal Engineers, Submarine Miners (Militia). In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa”. The Insignia were presented by the King. As a Major (Temporary Lieutenant Colonel) J H Prior went on to serve in WW1. He was again mentioned in Despatches, and was awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) [London Gazette, 16 September 1918]; “John Harvey Prior, DSO, Royal Engineers, Special Reserve. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action, when he volunteered to attach himself and his company to a battalion which was threatened by an outflanking movement. By his personal courage and excellent handling of his company he was successful in holding the enemy and in assisting the battalion to withdraw at a very critical moment”.