|An unmounted albumen print which apparently shows the Australian-born Lieutenant Guy Gaunt of the Royal Navy (later Admiral Sir Guy Gaunt) in Samoa in 1899 with
"Gaunt's Brigade", the native force he organized against the rebels. I say ‘apparently’ because the identification is uncorroborated. The pencilled inscription on the
reverse of the print actually reads "Native police / Tongan Is." but the person who sold me the photograph told me that this is incorrect, and gave me the alternative identification. I have done some research, and what I have discovered so far does seem to indicate that this is indeed Guy Gaunt with ‘Gaunt’s Brigade’ but I have yet to confirm this positively.
Guy Reginald Archer Gaunt was born on 25 May 1869 and educated at Melbourne Grammar School and then sent to England. He joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a midshipman on 17 December 1886. He transferred as a ‘supplementary Lieutenant’ from the Mercantile Marine in 1895. While navigator of the Porpoise in 1899 he was landed to protect the British Consulate at Apia, Samoa, against rebel attacks. When the disturbed state of the islands rendered more drastic operations necessary, he raised and commanded ‘Gaunt’s Brigade’, a native force which performed most useful service. For this he was mentioned in dispatches, and noted for promotion to Commander, to which rank he was advanced in 1901.
The above paragraph is taken from Admiral Sir Gaunt’s obituary in the Times on 20 May 1953. The following week the newspaper published a letter from Miss J.S. Boyd, who wrote “In your obituary account of the career of Admiral Sir Guy Gaunt mention is made of his defense of the Consulate at Apia when he was stationed on Samoa. He once told me he had been given orders to destroy the house on that island that had been the last home of Robert Louis Stevenson, which was being used a stronghold by the native rebel forces attacking the Consulate. When inflammable material had been collected and put in place for the burning down of the building he struck a match with which it could be set on fire and then he found that he could not bring himself to do his duty. Reporting this, and expecting a severe reprimand, he was surprised and relieved to be told that he had been quite right in this disobedience to orders."
The photograph, which is an unmounted albumen print, measures 3.7" by 5.4" (94 mm by 137 mm).
condition: Some creases at the top corners, and a very small tear in the left-hand edge. There is also a small spot of discolouration over the head of the man seated in the front row, fourth from the left.
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