Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, 1 clasp Banda Neira Landsman John Best. GVF/EF


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John best is on published rolls as a Landsman aboard H.M.S. Caroline for the capture of Neira, in the Banda – or Spice – Islands on 9 August 1810: he was one of just 68 recipients of the appropriate clasp. Low’s The Great Battles of the British Navy takes up the story: A unique name on the rolls,

‘And before the end of the summer [in 1810], Captain Cole, of the Caroline, 36, with the Remonstrance, 38, Captain Foote, and the Barracouta, 18, Lieutenant Kenah, achieved a glorious success in the reduction of Banda, the chief of the Spice Islands. Disembarking less than 400 men, half of whom missed their way back in the dark, he first scaled the strong castle of Belgica, and then gained possession of the castle and town of Nassau and forced the garrison of 700 Regulars and a large body of Militia to lay down their arms. This almost unique feat of arms, by which two castles and 10 Batteries, amounting to 138 guns, fell into British hands, was accomplished with only 140 sailors and 40 soldiers, and without the loss of a single man. Captain Cole was knighted, and received the Thanks of the Admiralty, Commander-in-Chief, and Governor-General, and four Swords of Honour, one of which, with a letter from the crew of the Caroline, must have been especially gratifying to this dashing Officer.’

HMS Caroline was a 36-gun fifth-rate Phoebe-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was designed by Sir John Henslow and launched in 1795 at Rotherhithe by John Randall.

In 1803 Caroline brought the news of the declaration of war with France to the East Indies where she would stay for the rest of her service. The ship’s main role in the Indies was attacking the possessions of the French and their allies and as such she participated in a number of important events, including the Java campaign of 1806–1807 in which she fought the action of 18 October 1806. The frigate also played an active role in the Persian Gulf campaign of 1809, the invasion of the Spice Islands where her crew were instrumental in capturing Banda Neira, and the invasion of Java in 1811. After this Caroline returned home to be paid off at Portsmouth where she was hulked. Her last, and most successful, commander was Captain Sir Christopher Cole. Caroline was broken up at Deptford in 1815

Provenance  Spink in October 1899 and subsequently in the Palmer Coll. 1914.