Original British Victorian Era Pocket Telescope of General Hector MacDonald

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. A very fine pocket telescope of brass construction contained in the original fiber tubular case together with a second lens assembly also carried in a separate case.

Offered in fine condition and dating to the later half of the 19th century.

Engraved on the brass barrel:






Note- the E.A. stands for Egyptian Army.

Hector MacDonald was born in Scotland in 1853 enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders as a private aged 15, in 1868 and finished his career as a full Major General in 1903.

Having shown exceptional bravery in the Second Afghan War of 1880 he was offered either the Victoria Cross or a commission in his own regiment. He chose the latter and served in the First Boer War 1880-1881 where he again showed great courage.

In 1885 he posted to Cairo to help in the reorganization of the Egyptian Army. He subsequently fought in the battles of Toski and Tokar where he was promoted to Major. He took command of a Brigade of the Egyptian Army in 1896 in the Dongola expedition and again fought at the Battlers of Abu Hamed (1897) and Atbara (1898).

At the Battle of Omdurman he covered Lord Kitchener's exposed flank while Kitchener redeployed. He was then promoted Colonel and became Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria. In 1899 he became Brigadier-General and was posted to India, then almost immediately to South Africa for the Second Boer War. In 1901 he was knighted and in 1902 became Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Unfortunately a massive scandal arose, concerning his apparent fascination with young boys, and he was recalled to London only to be told that he was to return to Ceylon to face a court marshal. He got as far as Paris and then, over breakfast, discovered the whole matter was reported in all the newspapers before he could even defend himself. He returned to his hotel room and took his own life.

A great war hero had committed suicide and a National scandal followed by an official investigation which found General MacDonald blameless on all counts. So a great military career ended in tragedy in 1903.

The real question that lingers in our mind is; who was captain Mustafa Isa of the Egyptian army to give such a nice gift to captain Hector MacDonald? Masses of research potential here.

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