|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 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.
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 as
well as the Khedive's Star. The medal roll for the HMS Inconstant shows Capper indeed being entitled to the Egypt Medal apparently
without any 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 lack of any clasps is due to the Inconstant arriving in Alexandria
after the 11 July bombardment. Some of the ship's complement took part is shore operations after arrival in Alexandra and Capper may well
have served ashore prior to becoming ill - possibly with malaria of typhoid. The medal 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 later that day.
|Private George Capper, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Carte de Visite
|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."