ARMY OF INDIA 1799-1826, SHORT HYPHEN, CLASP AVA ‘CHRISTOPHER BLAKE, H.E.I.C. BRIG SOPHIA.’
Confirmed on Capt. Douglas-Morris’s roll as 2nd Officer Sophia and Mate of Goliath. His application for the medal being from India, noted as serving with the Bengal Pilot Service.
HEIC vessel Sophia was a 6 gun armed Brig and is noted as one of those employed in the flotilla under Commodore Hayes on the Arakan coast at the beginning of the conflict. Prior to this, in January 1825, Sophia’s Commander was taken hostage by the Burmese and only released later the next month. Sophia was subsequently employed with the flotilla during the Arakan expedition under Brigadier General Morrison of the 44th Regiment from January 1825. During these operations the HEIC vessels were constantly employed in conveying troops and supplies, landing Naval parties in support of the ground forces, bombarding enemy positions, surveying etc etc and were highly commended for their good work in the most trying of circumstances. All naval vessels on this operation were HEIC, The Royal Navy being employed in the larger Rangoon expedition. HEIC vessel Goliath was a smaller gun boat, also employed in the Arakan expedition. HEIC Brig Sophia is often confused with HMS Sophie that also took part in the Burma War.
See ‘The History of the Indian Navy (1613-1863)’ By Charles Rathbone Low, for details of the HEIC vessels service during the war (a copy on CD supplied with the medal).
Christopher Blake is noted as one of 30 Masters on the Bengal Marine Board list of the ‘Pilot Establishment’ in the 1845 The East-India Register and Army List. He had been appointed on 12th Jan 1823. In 1856 he is shown as arriving in England, still with the Pilot Service. Clearly Blake was in the service for many years and therefore much more research is needed to establish his full service.
A very rare Naval medal, only 54 issued to Officers and Ratings of the HEIC, as opposed to 300 to the Royal Navy!
Condition Fine, suspension reaffixed, with brooch marks on obverse (not too heavy) and a little edge wear. Correct engraved style of naming. Ex Morton and Eden 2014