CHINA 1857-60, CLASP TAKU FORTS, UNNAMED AS ISSUED. ABYSSINIA 1867 ‘ENGINEER A. SHANKS H.M.S. OCTAVIA’, ASHANTEE 1873 ‘A. SHANKS, ENGR. R.N., H.M.S. COQUETTE, 1873-74’.
Arthur Shanks was born in Oakshaws, Paisley on 30 October 1834. Initially an apprentice grocer, he joined the Royal Navy as an Assistant Engineer 3d Class in August 1859 and is believed to have been one of the ‘Murdock’s Hundred’ recruited that year. Initially serving aboard H.M.S. Minotaur, he would be promoted Assistant Engineer 2nd Class on 16 April 1861, 1st Class on 7 July 1863 and to Engineer on 16 August 1866. During this time he would service on numerous ships, including the Steam gunboat Banterer, with which ship he served during the North China campaign of 1860, during which he was present at the attack and capture of Taku Forts. Subsequently service with H.M.S. Urgent and Asia, he was posted to the 4th rate screw frigate, H.M.S. Octavia on 20 June 1865 and was present with this ship as ‘Flag’, during the Abyssinian war of 1868. Posted to Highflyer on 9 March 1868, he would further serve with Asia and Royal Sovereign, passing as Chief Engineer on 7 June 1870 (not substantiated until 8 January 1878). Posted to Druid on the Cape and West Coast of Africa in February 1872, he joined the steam gunboat Coquette at Cape Coast Castle on 16 May 1873. Serving aboard this ship during the initial phases of and throughout the Ashantee War of 1873-4, Coquette was present and engaged at Bootry, 28 October 1873, Incara, 29 October 1873 and Assinee and Appolonia, 16 February 1874.
Shanks left Coquette on 28 February, over the next three years he served aboard H.M.S. Swiftsure, Asia, Warrior and Crocodile before joining the twin-screw gun vessel Lapwing as Engineer/Chief Engineer on 12 October 1877. On 12 July 1878 he was admitted to hospital in Singapore and died on 4 January 1879, on passage through the Suez Canal whilst aboard the P&O ship Australia.
Arthurs brother John, 9 years his senior and Andrew 3 years senior, went on to establish the famous sanitary engineering firm which bore his name until it merged to become Armitage Shanks in 1969.
Navy List entry:
“Shanks Arthur. Served in the “Banterer” in the North China campaign of 1860; was present at the attack and capture of Taku Forts (China Medal, Taku Clasp 1860); In the “Octavia” (flag) during the Abyssinian war (Abyssinian Medal), and in the “Coquette” in the Ashantee War, 1873-74 (Ashantee Medal).”
Condition VF and better, minor contact wear. Sold with an impressive quantity of copied research including a detailed 12 page chronological resume of Shanks’s life and service and another similar with pictures. Also a copy photograph of Shanks, service records, Medal rolls, musters, Navy List entries etc.