|George Capper was born in Gloucester on 8 August, 1860 and appears to have been the son of John and Emily Capper. His father being an
agricultural carter. Prior to enlistment George Capper had followed his father's trade.
Capper enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 8 July, 1879 and was described as being 5ft 6-3/4 inches tall with a sallow complexion,
dark brown hair and hazel eyes.
He served at the Recruit Depot at Walmer from 8 July, 1879 until 24 March, 1880 when he was transferred to the Portsmouth Division. In
August of 1880 he joined the ships company of the HMS Inconstant. During this time his character was described as being exemplary.
During his tenure aboard the Inconstant Capper's exemplary character seems to have lapsed and his name appeared 6 times in the
Company Defaulters Book. His offences included not moving smartly enough at all hands on deck, sleeping at his post when on sentry,
neglect of duty while on sentry, having a bottle of grog concealed on him which he intended to give to a prisoner over whom he was about to
placed as sentry, dropping his valise brace into the furnace room and leaving his work. For these offences he served 43 days punishment
with 14 of those in the cells.
The Inconstant set sail on 17 October, 1880 on a voyage of two years and one that Capper would not return from. The Inconstant sailed in
convoy with the Cleopatra, Bacchante, Carysfort and Tourmaline, for Vigo in Spain, then onto Madeira, to St Vincent and down to Monte
Video. The convoy arrived at Monte Video on 22nd December 1880 and sailed to Stanley in the Falkland Islands and then to the Cape of
Good Hope arriving Thursday 17th February 1881. She stayed in the Cape for two months replenishing coal stocks and exchanging official
visits with the British Governor.
The Inconstant and the convoy set sail on 10th April 1881 for Australia. Her first stop in Australia was at Melbourne, where on 23rd May
1881 the ship was ‘dressed’ and a Royal salute was fired to celebrate the birthday of HM Queen Victoria, this was repeated on Monday
20th June to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's ascension to the throne
From Sydney the Inconstant sailed to Brisbane, then on to Fiji, Yokohama, Kobe, Simorio, Wusury, Chausan Islands and to Hong Kong and
the Cape of Good Hope. After a month at the Cape she sailed for St Helena then to St Vincent, onto Gibraltar, to Malta, Limosal in Cyprus
and then to Alexandria, Egypt arriving 20th July 1882.
|Private George Capper, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Carte de Visite
|While in Alexandria Capper was part of the British force under Admiral Seymour that was sent to quell the anti-European riots that
followed Arabi Pasha's rebellion against the Egyptian Khedive.
Although not stated in Capper's service records it would seem that the unfortunate private would have been entitled to the Egypt Medal
possibly with the clasp "Alexandria 11 July" as well as the Khedive's Star. The medal roll for the HMS Inconstant shows Capper indeed
being entitled to the Egypt Medal is fails to specify if he was entitled to the afore mentioned clasp. Of the several other Egypt medals
issued to crew members of the Inconstant who were present at Alexandria none have clasps and this may well have been the case with
Capper's medal. The roll does sate that Capper's medal was forwarded to his father on 4 May, 1883.
The Ship's log of the HMS Inconstant states that Capper jumped overboard early in the morning of 22 September, 1882 while in a state of
delirium and was drowned. Divers recovered his body around 9:00 AM and at 9:15 the ship's company was mustered by divisions for
prayers in Capper's memory. He was buried at Alexandria. The cause of his delirium is unknown but it may have been due to malaria.
|Left: Capper's ship the HMS Inconstant in a
photograph taken sometime around 1870. The
Inconstant was built by John Penn & Sons and
launched on 12 November 1868 as an iron-hulled
unarmored frigate of 16 guns that displaced 5780
tons. Commanded from her commissioning by Captain
Elphonstone D'Oyly D'Auvergne Alpin until 13
September 1870. She was later under the command of
Captain Lord Walter Talbot Kerr and served as Vice
Admiral Frederick Beauchamp Padget Seymour's
flagship in the Mediterranean. The Inconstant
survived until 1956 when her remains were scrapped.
(Modern reprint of a vintage original)
5 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches (14cm x 9cm)
|Above: The reverse side of Capper's photograph showing that detailed pencil inscription that ends with a poignant "Rest in Peace."