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Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Sunday 09 July 23 14:03 BST (UK)  »
John Bogie
Sergeant, 5427
Royal Artillery

John was born on the 16th of May 1859 in Woolwich. He was the third of ten children born to Charles, a Gunner in the Royal Artillery (RA), and Mary (née Martin) Bogie. His father completed over 21 years’ service, including eleven months in China and six and half years in India and was awarded the campaign medal for the Second China War and the Long Service & Good Conduct medal. Whilst the family was accompanying his father during his service in India, on the 21st of June 1875 at the age of 16 years and one month, John enlisted into the British Army and joined his father’s unit, the 9th Brigade (9 Bde) RA, as a trumpeter. 9 Bde was renumbered 1 Bde in July 1877 and the next year, on the 8th of May 1878 having reached age, John was mustered as a Gunner and was posted to I Battery, 1 Bde (I/1).

In 1878, I/1 had received orders to leave India for service in the Mediterranean, however the deteriorating situation in Kabul resulted in their departure being repeatedly postponed. At the outbreak of the war, the battery joined the Afghan expeditionary force as part of General Biddulph’s Division. It marched to Kandahar via the Khojak Pass, arriving at its destination, after encountering many obstacles and experiencing much hardship on the 9th of January 1879. On the 16th of January it marched with the Division towards the Helmand River and after proceeding up the Argandab Valley, halted within a few miles of Girishk, close to the spot which would become famous later in the war as the battlefield of Maiwand. It returned to Kandahar where soon after, due to the success of the campaign, the Government decided to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan. The battery now received orders to return to India, leaving Kandahar on the 20th of February 1879, retracing its steps through the Khojak Pass to Quetta, where it arrived on the 9th of March. On the 11th it continued its march, and after travelling by rail from Sukkur to Karachi, eventually made its way to Kirki, where it finally marched into quarters on the 22nd of April 1879.

After service in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, John quickly rose up the ranks, being promoted to Acting Bombardier in June 1881, Bombardier in January 1882 and Corporal in February 1884. In November of 1884 John returned to England and having completed his 12 years’ service, he reengaged for a total of 21 years with the Colours in April 1885. John was promoted again to Sergeant in April 1888 and was posted to the RA District Staff in June 1888. The 1891 census shows that John was stationed at Weedon Beck in Northamptonshire, where he was employed as a Staff Clerk, and in October 1893 he was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal for 18 years exemplary service. John was discharged from the Army on the 22nd of June 1896 having completed his 21 years’ service.

On the 9th of March 1887, John married Margaret Carlaw Cuthbertson in Glasgow. John and Margaret had three children, Margaret Mary (b.1887); John Charles Alexander (b.June 1889); and James George Cuthbertson (b.1892). Both sons served during the First World War – John Charles is recorded as being a Second Lieutenant in the 2/1st Battalion Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (Yeomanry), and James saw service in France with the Army from 1915 before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1918 and becoming a Pilot.

After leaving the Army, John and his family moved back to Glasgow where John held a variety of jobs including cattle inspector and as a municipal clerk. The family moved to along to the mouth of the Clyde to the town of Gourock where John worked as a wharf manager. John was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with Annuity in 1933.

John died of myocardial degeneration of the heart on the 30th of October 1941 aged 82.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Friday 14 April 23 22:25 BST (UK)  »
John Chancellor
Sergeant, 1833
Royal Horse Artillery

John Chancellor was born in Lambeg near Lisburn in 1837 and enlisted into the Bengal Horse Artillery of the East India Company (EIC) at Belfast on the 1st of May 1859, aged 22. He was immediately dispatched to India where he would spend the next 20 years and 50 days. Following the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, the forces of the EIC were absorbed into the British Army and John volunteered for transfer to the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) in February 1861.

John was transferred to E Battery, F Brigade (E/F) RHA on the 29th of November 1862 and was promoted to Bombardier a year later, on Christmas Day 1863. Further promotions followed in quick succession – to Corporal in February 1865 and Sergeant in July 1866. He re-engaged for a total of 21 years’ service with the Colours, however his rise was brought to a halt when he was tried by Court Martial and reduced to the rank of Gunner, most likely for alcohol-related offences, in December 1870.

The following years were more settled as John recovered from his indiscretions, though he was hospitalised in 1872 having contracted Cholera whilst stationed at Meerut. He was again promoted to Bombardier in June 1875 and Corporal in April 1877. Shortly after, in July 1877, F Bde was redesignated as C Bde RHA, and John was posted to H Battery (H/C). It was with H/C that he would see active service during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Shortly before the outbreak of the War, in September 1878, John was promoted to Sergeant, and he was also awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in November of the same year.

On the 21st of October 1878, H/C marched from Sialkot in the Punjab for Campbellpur, where it remained halted till the 4th of December, when it then proceeded to Naushahra to join the 2nd Division Peshawar Valley Field Force under the command of General Maude. After doing duty at Taru, Peshawar, and Jamrud until the 11th of April 1879, the battery crossed the frontier and moved up to Basawal where it remained until the 8th of May. On that date it was ordered back to Peshawar, and subsequently to Naushahra and finally back to Sialkot, where it arrived on the 9th of June 1879.

A few months later, John and H/C returned to England, arriving on the 15th of December 1879. John was discharged on the 1st of June 1880 having served a total of 21 years and 24 days.

In around 1892, John commuted his pension and emigrated to Toronto in Canada where he intended to become a commercial market gardener. In his written submission to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, he described how the growing population was leading to high demand for produce, with good prices and cheap land available for purchase. He was confident of being able to provide sufficiently for himself and his wife.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Friday 07 April 23 21:56 BST (UK)  »
John Beharrell
2002, Gunner
Royal Horse Artillery


Because of his recurring symptoms, John appeared before a medical board at Aldershot on the 29th of March 1883 where he was adjudged to be medically unfit for further service – the blow to the head he received in 1873 was deemed to be the ultimate cause – and was recommended for discharged. He left the Army on the 22nd of May 1883.

John married Elizabeth Jane Grovestock at the Church of St Peter in the town of St Albans on the 12th of August 1885. Elizabeth was from St Albans and was twenty years his junior (b.1867). According to the 1891 Census, John and Elizabeth were living in Hatfield, Hertfordshire with two children, Albert John (b.1886) and Florence (b.1890). By the time of the next census, the family had grown, with the addition of Kate (b.1892), George (b.1895), Elizabeth (b.1898), and William (b.1900), and had moved a few miles North to the village of Ayot St Lawrence. There, John worked as a cattle stockman on the country estate belonging to Roger Cunliffe, a banker from Essex. John and Elizabeth had a further two children, Alfred (b.1903) and Virtue (b.1906).

John died in October 1922 aged 76.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Friday 07 April 23 21:55 BST (UK)  »
John Beharrell
Gunner, 2002
Royal Horse Artillery

John Beharrell was born in the village of Holme, near Peterborough in February 1847. He was the second of nine children born to John, an agricultural labourer, and Lydia (neé Prebble) Beharrell both of whom were also born in Holme. On the 16th of November 1868 in Glasgow, John enlisted into the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) at the age of 21, signing on for twelve years’ service with the Colours.

The first six months of John’s military career were spent with at the Depot Brigade (Bde) RHA where he learnt his trade as a Gunner before being transferred to B Bde RHA on the 1st of June 1869. John’s time with B Bde was short-lived and he was transferred to E Battery, F Bde RHA (E/F) who were serving in Umballa in India, sailing from England on the 14th of November 1870. In 1873 John received a kick to the head from a horse resulting in a “putrid discharge” from both ears which would recur for the next eight years. This injury would ultimately result in his being discharged from the Army.

In July 1877 F Bde was re-titled as C Bde RHA. Between August 1877 and January 1878, John was part of the British Army’s punitive expedition against the Jowaki Afridi tribe on the Northwest Frontier. This was in response to the Jowaki’s guerrilla attacks against British interests, including the pass between Kohat and Peshawar, that were sparked by the British government in India cutting the tribute payment made to the local tribes for good behaviour. Having pushed the Jowaki back into the mountains, the expedition ended in January 1878 when the British force returned to its home stations, though sporadic attacks by the Jowaki continued.

Having served for nearly ten years, on the 29th of May 1878, John re-engaged with the Army, signing up for a total of 21 years’ service. A few months later, the Second Anglo-Afghan War would break out.

I/C formed part of the advance guard of the 1st Division Peshawar Valley Field Force, which marched from Jamrud to enter the Khyber Pass on the 21st of November 1878, taking part in the Battle of Ali Musjid. As part of the advance guard, four guns of the battery opened fire on nearing Ali Musjid but were taken out of action on the arrival of a field battery and a 40-pounder Armstrong battery, which formed part of the main column of the force. Later in the day, when a general advance on Ali Musjid was made, the battery was taken down to the Khyber stream, and assisted in covering the attack of the Infantry on the fort. The casualties on this day were one other rank and two horses killed, and five other ranks wounded. On the 23rd of November the battery accompanied the force which advanced to Daka and subsequently to Jalalabad, where it remained in camp throughout the succeeding winter months. On the 31st of March, I/C advanced with the Cavalry Brigade towards Gandamak and on the 2nd of April, took part in the action of Futtehabad, contributing to Brigadier-General Gough’s crushing defeat of the enemy.

After the signing of the treaty of peace at Gandamak, the battery was amongst the first of the units of the Division to march back to India. It suffered severely en route from an epidemic of cholera, losing one officer and thirteen men in five days. Early in September 1879, the battery received orders to return to England; but these orders were countermanded immediately after the news of the massacre of the Kabul Embassy reached India, and the battery was directed to join the Division under the command of Major-General Roberts in the Kuram Valley. However, not having replenished its deficiencies in men, horses, and stores after returning from the first campaign, its advance was delayed. On receipt of the news of the investment of Sherpur, I/C was ordered to proceed by forced marches to Peshawar where is formed part of the garrison. As troops arrived from the South, it was again ordered forward, and reached Daka on the 1st of January 1880. Two weeks later, on the 15th of January the battery, forming part of the small mixed force of Cavalry and Horse Artillery was engaged in the encounter with the Khan of Lalpura and his followers, who had crossed the Kabul River and occupied the Gara Heights at the Western mouth of the Khyber Pass. The battery shelled the heights and enabled the Infantry to make a direct attack which routed the enemy, dispersing them towards Kam Daka. It was subsequently decided to reduce the force of Artillery in Afghanistan and the battery was ordered to India, recrossing the frontier on the 14th of February 1880.

John, having served ten years and 112 days in India, and the rest of I/C returned to England aboard HMS Serapis in February 1881. The battery was stationed in Fordington near Dorchester and John remained with the battery for another year before transferring to I Bty, B Bde RHA on the 1st of April 1882.  On the 25th of May 1882, John was admitted to hospital in Aldershot suffering from facial paralysis. He was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy but other symptoms such as blistering, and vertigo indicate he may have been suffering with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. He spent eight weeks in hospital before being discharged. Unfortunately, he was admitted twice more suffering the same symptoms, firstly in October 1882 and again in January 1883.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Saturday 04 February 23 19:07 GMT (UK)  »
Walter Simms
Gunner, 1900
Royal Horse Artillery

Walter was born in Brighton, Sussex around April 1849, the third of six children born to Edward, a journeyman Bricklayer, and Ann (neé Ralph) Simms. On the 29th of October 1866, at the age of 17 years and 6 months, Walter enlisted into the British Army at Brighton, attesting into the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) and signing up for 12 years’ service.

Walter was posted to B Brigade (B Bde) RHA, with whom he would spend the first five years of his career. In November 1871, he was transferred to the RHA Depot Bde before setting sail for service in India on the 17th of January 1872 arriving a month later, on the 20th of February. It was the beginning of nearly eight years spent overseas and, once arrived in India, Walter was posted to F Bde RHA, based in Umballa. Having completed nearly nine years’ service, in May 1875 Walter extended his time with the Colours to a total of 21 years. Shortly after, in July 1877, F Bde was redesignated as C Bde RHA, and Walter was posted to H Battery (H/C). It was with H/C that he would see active service during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

On the 21st of October 1878, H/C marched from Sialkot in the Punjab for Campbellpur, where it remained halted till the 4th of December, when it then proceeded to Naushahra to join the 2nd Division Peshawar Valley Field Force under the command of General Maude. After doing duty at Taru, Peshawar, and Jamrud until the 11th of April 1879, the battery crossed the frontier and moved up to Basawal where it remained until the 8th of May. On that date it was ordered back to Peshawar, and subsequently to Naushahra and finally back to Sialkot, where it arrived on the 9th of June 1879.

A few months later, Walter and H/C returned to England, arriving on the 15th of December 1879. In April 1882, C Bde was redesignated as B Bde RHA and Walter transferred to B Division, Coast Bde RA in December of the same year. Seven months later in July 1883 he transferred again, this time to the RA School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness in Essex. Walter was discharged on the 5th of June 1888 having completed a total of 21 years and 219 days service.

Walter married Emily Jane Gough, a dressmaker from Warminster in Wiltshire, in 1887. After being discharged from the Army, Walter and Emily moved to Blaina in Monmouthshire, between Merthyr Tydfil and Abergavenny where Walter worked as a general labourer and latterly as a surface worker in the mining industry. Walter died on the 11th of October 1914 in Blaina, aged 65.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Sunday 29 January 23 00:08 GMT (UK)  »
Henry Reed
Gunner, 4952
Royal Artillery

Henry was born in Eastbourne, Essex in September 1852; the fifth of eight children of George and Ann (neé Francisco) Reed. A fisherman by trade and aged 19, Henry enlisted into the British Army at Plymouth Citadel on the 16th of March 1871, joining the Royal Artillery (RA) for 12 years’ service with the Colours. He is recorded on the 1871 Census as living in the barracks of the Citadel.

On enlistment, Henry joined 13 Brigade (13 Bde) RA and within seven months was on his way to India with the rest of the Bde. Arriving in November 1871, Henry would spend a total of nine years and 135 days in India, including active service in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Three years later, in November 1874, he was transferred to 11 Bde which was subsequently re-numbered as 4 Bde in March 1877 and was posted to E Battery (E/4). However, it was during the second phase of the campaign and with C/4 that Henry would deploy to Afghanistan, serving from October 1879 until October 1880.

At the outbreak of hostilities with Afghanistan in the autumn of 1878, C/4 were stationed at Meerut and were ordered to Rawalpindi, where for the next few months it formed part of the Reserve Division of the Kurram Valley Field Force. The following March, the battery was moved up to the frontier and into hostile territory, leaving three guns, en-route, at Kohat. On the 12th of May the advanced half-battery arrived at Kurram, where it remained throughout the remainder of the first campaign. C/4 served through the second campaign with the Kurram Division, until the final evacuation of the Valley. By the end of September 1879, one half-battery had been pushed on to the advanced post of Ali Khel, the other remaining temporarily at Kurram. On the 14th of October. The former was engaged at Ali Khel in the repulse of the determined attack made by the Mangals on that post, contributing materially to their defeat. Broken up into divisions, the battery served for the remainder of the campaign at various posts extending from Kurram to Ali Khel, taking part in the various expeditions conducted into the surrounding country. On the evacuation of the Kurram Valley, C/4, recrossed the frontier, and eventually proceeded to Lahore

In May 1880, whilst based at Kurram, Henry re-engaged for a total of 21 years’ service and transferred to 9 Bde and then 8 Bde RA in June and October of the same year. In January 1881, 8 Bde returned to England arriving back on the 24th of February, subsequently becoming 1 Bde, Cinque Ports Division RA in April 1883. Over the next six years Henry would transfer between several different batteries and brigades, eventually finding himself in 3 Bty, 1 Bde (3/1), Southern Division, based in Portsmouth in July 1889. In November of the same year, Henry and 3/1 were posted the warmer climate of Malta for the next two and a half years, and it was during this period, in March 1892, that Henry was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct medal and was also granted permission to continue beyond his 21 years’ service.

With 21 years’ service completed, Henry was posted to the Depot Bde, Southern Division and returned to England in June 1892. He would remain with the Depot Bde in Portsmouth for another 12 years, through more reorganisation of the Army, with the formation of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) in January 1902. Henry was finally discharged from the Army at Fort Rowner, Gosport on the 4th of July 1904 having served an incredible 33 years and 111 days. For 20 years he performed the role of an Officers’ servant, and his character and conduct were described as “Exemplary”.

Henry married Elizabeth Joyce on the 14th of January 1882 in Dover. They had one son, Ernest Albert (b.25th May 1884) but unfortunately Elizabeth died before he was a year old, passing away on the 22nd of January 1885 in Hilsea, Portsmouth. On the 17th of January 1884, George married Amelia Annie Haffenden at Wymering, Portsmouth, with whom he had a further eight children: Arthur Edward (b.1887), Ellen Ada (b.1889), George Samuel (b.1892), William John (b.1895), Lillie Pheobe (b.1899), Richard Victor (b.1900), James Edwin (b.1906), and Violet Dorothy (b.1909). Following his retirement, Henry and Amelia would remain in the Portsmouth for the remainder of his life. Henry died in Gosport, in October 1932 aged 80.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Thursday 29 December 22 20:40 GMT (UK)  »
Richard Gibson
Bombardier, 1906
Royal Artillery

Richard Gibson was born in Saintfield, County Down in early 1847. He was a general labourer and enlisted into the British Army on the 21st of January 1867 at Newtownards, attesting for the Royal Artillery (RA) the following day in Belfast, signing up for 12 years’ service.

Following his enlistment, Richard was posted to the Depot Brigade for six months to undergo his basic military training. Having completed his training, Richard was sent to join 9 Battery, 3 Brigade RA (9/3) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with whom he would serve throughout his career. He remained in Canada until November 1870 when 9/3 were posted to Jamaica for another two years, returning home to England in December 1872.

The early years of Richard’s time in the Army were marked by ill-discipline: He was married without leave on the 13th of October 1869 when serving in Canada; he was imprisoned between November 1870 and January 1871; and was fined for being absent four times between June 1872 and February 1875.

Having returned to England in 1872, 9/3 were renumbered 5 (Mountain) Battery, 8 Brigade (5/8) in July 1877 and would remain on service at home until they were again deployed overseas to India in November 1878. Although the Second Anglo-Afghan War broke out in November 1878, 5/8 did not see active service until August 1880. In the meantime, Richard re-engaged to complete 21 years’ service with the Colours and was promoted to the rank of Bombardier in February 1880.

Following the battery’s return from its brief service in Afghanistan, Richard was again promoted to the rank of Corporal in March 1881, before the battery was renamed 9 (Mountain) Battery, 1 Brigade, Cinque Ports Division RA (9/1) in April 1882. Shortly afterwards, in August the same year, Richard reverted to the rank of Gunner at his own request. He was again promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant in October 1885 and September 1886 respectively. During this period 9/1 and Richard were involved in operations in Burma following the Third Burmese War.

Just a year after being promoted to Sergeant, in September 1887, Richard was tried and reduced to the rank of Gunner. With his 21 years’ service nearly complete, Richard left India aboard HMS Malabar on the 14th of January 1888, arriving in England a month later, on the 9th of February. He was finally discharged from the Army at Woolwich on the 3rd of April 1888 having served for 21 years and 5 days.

Although his wife Elizabeth is listed as his Next of Kin, there is no record of her being brought onto the married establishment or ever leaving Nova Scotia. Richard’s intended residence on discharge was in his hometown of Newtownards, County Down. The 1901 and 1911 Irish Census shows records Richard as ‘Single’ and living with his sister, Jane, and her children.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Wednesday 28 December 22 13:41 GMT (UK)  »
George John Thomas Westlake Wootten
Bombardier, 589
Royal Horse Artillery & Army Pay Corps

George John Thomas Westlake Wootten was born in Dorchester, Dorset in July 1852. He was the eighth child of Richard, a Coachmaker, and Eliza both from London. Baptised in August 1852 at Cerne Abbas in Dorset, in the 1861 Census George is recorded as living with his Uncle John and Aunt Sarah Shepard in Cerne Abbas whilst his parents were living in London. It is unclear whether George ever saw his birth family again, but in 1871 George had moved to London and was lodging in Bermondsey and working as a leather merchant.

On the 17th of May 1875, George enlisted into the British Army, giving his name as George Westlake and stating that he was a clerk, born in Exmouth, Devon in 1853. He joined the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) and was posted to the RHA Riding Establishment in Woolwich for his initial training. On the 1st of December 1876, having completed his training, George was transferred to B Brigade (B Bde) RHA and was deployed to India, arriving on the 31st of January 1877. Once in India, George was transferred to D Battery, A Bde (D/A) in July 1877 with whom he would see action in the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

On the 15th of October 1878, D/A marched from Mirat where it was then stationed, for Peshawar. On arrival at Rawal Pindi however, directions were received for it to proceed to Campbellpur, and there await further orders. Detailed to the newly constituted Peshawar Valley Field Force, the battery left that station on the 18th of November for Naushahra, and from there subsequently continued its march to Peshawar and Jamrud, where the HQ of the Division were eventually located. On the 19th of December 1878 two guns of the battery, mounted on elephants, marched from Jamrud to take part in the first Bazar Valley expedition. The left division of the battery was subsequently employed in the second Bazar Valley expedition, marching from Jamrud on the 24th of January and returning on the 4th of February 1879. At the latter end of March 1879, the battery was moved up to Basawal, where it remained until after the conclusion of the first campaign. On the 1st of May, George was appointed to the rank of Acting Bombardier before the battery began it commenced its return march to India on the 5th of June, recrossing the frontier four days later and moved into quarters at Peshawar.

George was promoted to Bombardier in September before receiving orders on the 14th of December 1879 to march to the Khyber to reinforce General Bright’s Division. D/A left Peshawar on the following day, and made its way to Jalalabad, remaining halted ten days en route at Landi Kotal, and leaving two guns at Basawal. On the 13th of January 1880, in response to a reported attempt by the enemy to cross the Kabul River at Ali Boghan, two guns were suddenly ordered out under an escort of two squadrons of the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) to prevent this movement, and effectually succeeded in doing so. After twenty-two rounds had been fired by the guns at various ranges, the enemy dispersed. On the 29th of January 1880, the battery marched back to Basawal, and continued to do duty along the Khyber line of communications until its return to India on the 4th of April 1880.

Stationed at Rawal Pindi for the next few years, George was promoted to Corporal in April 1881 and to Sergeant just six weeks later. In May 1883, after six years and 153 days overseas, George returned to England and was transferred to the Depot Bde RHA, before joining the Regimental District Staff in October 1883. A year later, on the 22nd of October 1884, George was transferred to 3rd Bde, Northern Division RA on promotion to the rank of Battery Sergeant Major. Based in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, George would remain in the North-East for the remainder of his military career. Fast approaching the end of his 12 years with the Colours, in September 1886 George re-engaged to complete a total of 21 years’ service and was again promoted in October 1887 to the rank of Quarter-Master Sergeant.

On the 20th of August 1890, George transferred to the Corps of Military Staff Clerks, which would become the Army Pay Corps in April 1893, and was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1894. After successfully applying to extend his service beyond 21 years, George was finally discharged from the Army on the 17th of May 1899, exactly 24 years after enlisting.

George married Edinburgh born Grace Stirling Russell (b.26th of June 1862) in Berwick-upon-Tweed on the 6th of December 1887. They had no children but remained living in Northumberland for the rest of their lives. In the 1901 Census, George is recorded as a school Attendance Officer and Army pensioner living in Morpeth, moving back to Berwick-upon-Tweed on his final retirement.

It is unclear whether George deliberately enlisted under a false name, possibly due to estrangement from his birth family, or whether it was a clerical error. Perhaps telling is that his recorded Next of Kin, prior to marriage were an aunt and a cousin, despite his father still being alive and recorded in the 1881 Census. Whatever the reason, by the time of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, he is listed on the medal roll as “G. Westlake Wootten” and his military records amended.

George died on the 22nd of September 1929 aged 77. His widow Grace remained in Berwick-upon-Tweed until her death of the 20th of June 1940.

Armed Forces / Re: Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878-80
« on: Friday 23 December 22 23:05 GMT (UK)  »
William Biggs
Driver, 6200
Royal Artillery

William Biggs was born in 1845 in Brampton near Huntingdon, in Cambridgeshire. William’s father died before he turned 14, and his mother Mary was a nurse. William, who was working as a goods driver, enlisted into the Army on the 3rd of July 1863, attesting into the Royal Artillery (RA). Initially enlisting for 12 years, William lied on his paperwork, neglecting to declare he was currently engaged in the county Militia, and failing to gain permission to join the regular Army.

William’s service was marked by ill-discipline. Between 1865 and 1867 he was tried and imprisoned three times including, unusually, by the civilian courts for theft, serving nearly six months in prison. Following his release, William was deployed to India, arriving in December 1867, and was transferred to C Battery, 8th Brigade (C/8 Bde) RA. Unfortunately, his conduct remained poor, going AWOL twice in 1872. Despite this, William re-engaged for a total of 21 years’ service in November 1874 before he was again imprisoned in 1876 and from July to December 1878. Immediately upon his release, William re-joined his battery which had been deployed on active service in the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

In July 1877, 8 Bde had been renumbered 3 Bde and, on the 5th of October 1878, in view of the impending outbreak of hostilities with Afghanistan, C/3 left Jalandhar for the front, and after a march of around 450 miles joined General Samuel Browne’s Field Force at Peshawar. From the 22nd of December 1878 until the 25th of March 1879, the battery was stationed at Jamrud, after which it moved up through the Khyber Pass to Daka, where it remained until the conclusion of the first campaign. At the latter end of April C/3 took part in the battle at Kam Daka, assisting in rescuing 150 men of the Mhairwara Battalion, from being overrun. On the 3rd of June 1879, the battery commenced its return march to India, suffering en-route, and at Peshawar, from a severe outbreak of cholera which killed 23 men out of a total battery strength of 110 in just six weeks.

On the renewal of hostilities in September 1879, C/3 was one of the first batteries sent back across the frontier. Marching again through the Khyber Pass, it was now broken up into divisions, two guns being left at Basawal, two advancing to Jalalabad, and two to Gandamak. On General Bright’s arrival at Gandamak with a battery of Horse Artillery, the two guns at that advanced post re-joined the division at Jalalabad. During the winter months the battery took part in many minor expeditions which, though necessitating a good deal of severe marching, invariably resulted in the enemy coming to terms without offering armed resistance.

In December 1879, William returned to India and, the following April, on to England. He transferred to E/6 on the 1st of March 1881, which was renumbered E/1 in July of the same year and was posted to Woolwich. After 15 years of service, William was appointed to the rank of Acting Bombardier in May 1882, before finally promoting to Bombardier on the 26th of August 1883. Having served his 21 years with the Colours, William was granted permission to remain serving, and was promoted to the rank of Corporal on the 19th of January 1886. He was finally discharged at Aldershot on the 2nd of November 1886, having served a total of 23 years and 99 days.

William married Matilda Beal (b.1861) on the 20th of December 1884 at Farnham, Surrey. They had a total of seven children, six of who survived childhood: William Ernest (b.1886); Herbert George (b.1889); Laura May (b.1892); E.Eliza (b.1895); Charles Sidney (b.1896); and Laurence (b.1898). According to the 1911 Census, William was retired and living in Leicester on his Army pensioner and Matilda was working as a Charwoman in a workhouse infirmary.

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