Coming up with an appropriate title for Private
David Stewart’s entry was problematic only due
to the rather picturesque choices his service
records offered. Stewart is without a doubt the
earliest enlisting private soldier featured here at
soldiersofthequeen.com having enlisted during
the reign of William IV on 26 September, 1831
at Aberdeen, Scotland.
Stewart was born about 1811 in Forfar, Scotland.
Due to his very early birth date I have not been
able to establish his family connections in that
town. A tailor at the time of his enlistment,
Stewart attested as No. 1118 with 79th (Cameron
Highlanders) Regiment of Foot for a term of
unlimited service. This rather forbidding and
open ended enlistment was somewhat mitigated
by a three pound enlistment bounty.
Stewart remained with the 79th until 21 March,
1838 when he transferred to the 71st (Highland
Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot.
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Alfred Joseph Haslam
Army Veterinary Corps
Uganda Railway Service
The familiar origins of Alfred Joseph
Haslam are somewhat uncertain and after
repeated attempts I have been unable to
determine exactly who his parents were.
Based on the 1891 census of Scotland he
seems to have been born at Halifax England
on 27 November 1863.
He attended medical school in Edinburgh,
Scotland (New Veterinary College) graduating
with high honors April 1884. He joined the
Army Veterinary Department in February
1885 and one short month later found himself
in Suakin and seems to have been attached to
the Suakin Field Force then operating under
the command of ...
|Discharge Parchment and Original
Tinned Iron Storage Tube
Private David Stewart
71st Regiment of Foot
29 November, 1852
|Captain Robert Pope
Carte de Visite
The SS Carnatic was a 1770 ton steamship
launched in London on 12 June, 1862, she was
a transitional vessel – fully rigged but with a
single screw 2400 horsepower 4-cylinder steam
engine. She was constructed with a wooden
planked iron framed hull. Owned by the
Peninsula & Orient Steam Navigation
Company (P&O), she operated on the Suez-
Bombay-Hong Kong route prior the opening of
the Suez Canal.
Outward bound for Bombay on 12 September
1869 near the mouth of the Gulf of Suez the
Carnatic ran aground on a reef close by
Shadwan Island. Apparently there was little
concern expressed by the ship’s captain P. B.
Jones. The ship’s pumps were started and like
the Titanic some 43 year later an air of
normalcy reigned until around 2:00 a.m. of the
14th when rising water suddenly quenched the
boilers cut cutoff all power to the ship. In spite
of the loss of power – and any hope of getting
off the reef – it was not until 11:00 a.m. of the
14th that Captain Jones finally gave orders to
abandon ship. Only four passengers had
managed to board a lifeboat when the ship...
William Henry Bonaker
Royal Army Ordnance
This remarkably informal photograph shows No. 184 Armament Quarter
Master Sergeant William Henry Bonaker, D.C.M. of the Royal Army
Ordnance Corps posing with his bicycle on a jungle road somewhere in
India during the 1910-11 holiday season. Three locals also joined Bonaker
in the photograph in which the road itself seems the center of the
composition. Interestingly the road also forms a demarcation line between
the Bonaker on the two Indian natives. The almost idyllic quality of the
photograph belies the abject degradation and horror that Bonaker would
face in just a few short years.
|Colonel Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald
GCMG GCVO KCB PC
2nd Battalion, the Highland Light Infantry
Appearing rather gaunt but otherwise determined looking
in his Foreign Office diplomatic uniform, Sir Claude Maxwell
MacDonald GCMG GCVO KCB PC had a rather
distinguished career as both solider and diplomat. He gained
his most notable fame for his leadership in the defense of
the foreign legations at the siege of Peking during the Boxer
Rebellion in 1900.
Born on 12 June, 1852 at Gwalior, Bengal, India to General
James Dawson MacDonald and his wife Mary Ellen. After
graduating from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, the
future Sir Claude was commissioned Lieutenant in the 2nd
Battalion, the Highland Light Infantry (HLI) on 16 March
1872.* He was promoted Captain on 12 February, 1881 and
Major on 18 November, 1882. He retired from the army in
While with the HLI MacDonald would see active service in
Egypt and the Nile. He was present at Tel-el-Kebir where he
received a Mention in Despatches from Sir Garnet Wolseley
and Brevet of Major in recognition of his outstanding
services during the engagement and received the Egypt
Medal with clasp “Tel-el-Kebir” and the Khedive’s bronze
Star. He again served under Wolseley during the Gordon
Relief Expedition being seconded to the 1st Battalion, the
Black Watch and was present at the battles of El Teb and
and Temaai where he was wounded and was awarded the 4th
Class Order of the Osmanieh and additional clasps for his
Egypt Medal: “El Teb - Temaai” and “Suakin 1884”.
MacDonald was appointed Acting Agent and Consul General
at Zanzibar in 1887 and then in 1888 became Commissioner
on the West Coast of Africa. In 1889 he took part in a special
mission to the Niger Territories and was later in Berlin during
the negotiations that determined the boundary between the
Oil Rivers Protectorate and the Cameroons after which he
was appointed Commissioner and Consul-General of the
Protectorate and surrounding native areas. In 1891 he was
further appointed Commissioner and Consul General to the
Niger Coast Protectorate, the Island of San Fernando Po and
the Cameroons. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1892 and K.C.B.
in 1898 for his service in West Africa.
In all of the published accounts of MacDonald’s active
military career that I have read only Egypt and the Suakin
are mentioned . The medal roll for the 1892 East and West
Africa Medal list Major Sir C. M. MacDonald, Commissioner
& Consul General being entitled to the medal with clasp
“Brass River 1895” for service during the Brass River
Expedition of 1895 - a punitive action against King William
Koko of the Nembe for his raid on the Royal Niger
Company's headquarters at Akassa. While the medal roll is
quite clear on the subject the 1908 edition of Hart’s Army
List makes no mention of MacDonald’s service in Africa or of
his award of the above mentioned medal.
In January 1896 MacDonald was appointed Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Peking. It was
during this posting that MacDonald faced the most
challenging time of his career when he found himself
commanding the defense of the foreign legations in Peking
during the Boxer led siege. During the siege MacDonald had
the rare privilege of being able to read his own obituary when
news accounts from China that were printed in British
newspapers mistakenly claimed that the legations had fallen
to the Boxers and the defenders massacred. This odd
circumstance was related in a letter to the editor of The
Spectator on the occasion of MacDonald’s actual death on 10
“Sr.,- Were not the war so all-engrossing, it would seem strange
that no one, I think, should have recalled the fact that the late
Sir Claude Macdonald was one of the few men who have been
privileged to read their own obituary. It was after the Boxer
rising in China just fifteen years ago. In the middle of July,
1900, circumstantial accounts were received in this country of
the fall of the Peking Legations and of the massacre of all those
who were in them. A statement was made in the House on July
16th which left little room for hope, and I have before me a copy
of the Times of July 17th containing Sir Claude's biography.
The paper is already turning yellow, and the memory of the
gallant part which be played in the defense of the small
European community committed chiefly to his care seems to be
in like manner already fading away. Yet even in these days of
still greater storm and stress it is, perhaps, well to recall how the
British Legation at Peking was the fort which for two months
held the Boxer hordes at bay, and how Sir Claude Macdonald,
soldier and diplomatist, held the fort until General Gaselee's
force at last brought relief, being the first with our brave
Japanese allies to reach the beleaguered European quarter of the
Manchu city. We know now that there always was an influential
party at the old Empress's Court that shrank from allowing the
Imperial troops to join with the Boxers and make an end of the
Legations. But none knew it at the time, and for two months the
defense had to be conducted in daily anticipation of the worst.
|Captain Lionel A. E. Ollivant
Royal Fusiliers/ China Regiment
Mhow, India c. 1899
The heroic death of Captain Lionel
Arthur Edward Ollivant at Tientsin on 14
July 1900 during the so-called Boxer
Rebellion was of such a nature that one
would have thought the he would have
received some official recognition for his
act of gallantry but due to the rather
unusual circumstances surrounding the
event and aside from some brief mentions
in period press accounts it went otherwise
Born at Bombay, India on 3 December
1872 to Sir Edward Charles Kayll Ollivant,
K.C.I.E. of the Indian Civil Service and
the former Lucy Caroline Shelly. He
received an appropriately gentlemanly
education at Chartherhouse School and
Trinity College, Cambridge. An avid
boater while at Cambridge he took part in
the annual Boat Race between Oxford and
Cambridge in 1893 and 1894.
Possibly of the Royal Engineers
India, c. 1870s
Although lacking identification of any kind this
carte de visite none the less offers a outstanding
window or glimpse into the face of one of Her
Majesty's serving soldiers in India sometime
probably in the late 1870s.
Aside from his twisted gold shoulder cords,
polished buttons and gold chin chain, this soldier
wears little to embellish his bright white tropical
uniform. As befitting a man serving in India his
white foreign service helmet bears a white pagri,
which at the time were not authorized for wear
outside of India.
The man's rather well grown mustache and
mutton chop side boards give him the bearing of
an officer but there is nothing else to actually...
|Armourer Staff Sergeant
Thomas Henry Ford, D.C.M.
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
1st Battalion, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Although unidentified in any way, with a bit of research and though a
process of elimination I believe this holder of the Distinguished Service
Medal (DCM) was No. 795 Armourer Staff Sergeant Thomas Henry Ford
of the Army Ordnance Corps.
After comparing this image to a list of members of the Ordnance Corps
awarded the DCM during the Anglo-Boer War, the man’s rank, the
number of clasps on his Queen’s South Africa Medal as well as the post
war location of the photograph Thomas Henry Ford seems to be the only
man whose military matches up to all of these various criteria.
Thomas Henry Ford was born at Kamptee, India on 1 February 1875, the
son of Armourer Sergeant William Owen Ford of the 44th Regiment of
Foot and Rebecca Temperance. He had two brothers who would also serve
in the army – Frank in the Essex Regiment and Fred in an undetermined
unit. Two younger brothers – Bert and William – as well as a sister Edith
were still living with their parents.