For your viewing pleasure, IL herewith presents the trio awarded to a typical soldier of the Queen:
1) Egypt medal (clasp "The Nile 1884-5" engraved to "581 Pte. J.Collins 2/Essex R"
2) QSA medal (clasps OFS/Tvaal/SA01 and SA02) impressed to "581 Pte. J.Collins Essex Regt:
3) Khedive's Star (un-named and as probably befits a medal worn for fifteen or more years, polished).
Attesting for "general service, Infantry" on 18th Jan, 1882 age 19y, 3m, occupation "cork cutter"), James Collins was briefly appointed to 2nd Bn., R.W.Surrey Regt and barely had time to polish his cap badge before being posted (with Authority, Horse Guards) to the 2/Essex Regt as "Private, 581".
His campaign trio hardly reveals the full extent of his service: Home to 7/7/82, Gibraltar 7/82 to 2/84, Egypt 2/84 to 1/87, Malta 2/87 to 7/89, Cyprus 7/89 to 10/92, India 10/92 to 12/01, South Africa 12/01 to 10/02 and finally Home for discharge on 1/03. One GC badge, 21 full years with the Colours, Conduct and Character described as "Fair" ("No silver LSGC for you, my lad!")
The Egyptian service of Pte. Collins, J of the 2/Essex was as a member of the River Column during the unsuccessful Gordon Relief Expedition. IL delved into various accounts of the activities of the River Column - before running across a far superior summary of that episode of Imperial History upon p.280 of WSC's "Ian Hamilton's March". In describing Hamilton's time in Egypt, WSC writes in part that - "The fortunes of the troops who worked their way up the Nile have not been so closely studied as those of the columns which plunged into the desert ..... But it is nevertheless one of the most picturesque enterprises of our military history. The Broad boats toiling forward against the current of the river, making perhaps three miles a day, obstructed by frequent cataracts and menaced continually by the enemy, the scouts on the banks, the lines of men on the tow ropes the red sand of the desert, the hot steel sky and the fierce sunlight slanting in between the rocks of the Nile gorge, are materials from which a fascinating sketch might be painted".
Very much later, Pte Collins, J of the 2/Essex accompanied his unit to South Africa for duty on the block-house line East of Tafel Kop (NE corner of ORC). Stirling tells us that during Jan-Feb 1902, great drives were taking place in the district - "which made the holding of the containing lines a most arduous and responsible task". It has been commented elsewhere that the final months of the campaign were hard and brutal indeed; the 2/Essex's casualties in that period appear to have been no less than fifty-seven - 3KiA, 19 WiA, 23 Died of Disease and 12 PoWs.
Nevertheless, James Collins marched out of the 2/Essex at Warley on 17th Jan, 1903 with his accounts balanced and pension presumably intact. No family or dependants were noted on his papers; perhaps he took up his previous occupation as cork-cutter or took up any of the various occupations available to old soldiers.
Nevertheless, one of IL's favourite groups!
Regards to all who have read so far
That's a good and very typical cockney you have there, Ian, very nice indeed, I knew the Old Kent Rd very well, a most interesting place, I dare say he must have rather liked the Army, to choose to extend your service, not once, but, twice, certainly not a place for the faint hearted, I would think by the time he reached South Africa, he may have considered it again, perhaps, somewhat differently.
Brett and Frank
It is funny sometimes that a particular group of medals "speaks" (at least I find that!) and it drops into the "favourites" category. Long ago, I gave up trying to figure out why.
I would like that group because it combines the Egypt pair with a QSA. I have two 'favourite' groups in my collection that include Egypt medals, but, although both men settled in South Africa, they missed serving in the Boer War.
Here is my Egypt group, thought I had a picture but guess not.....
REG. NO.: 4461
REGT: ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
BARS: CAPE COLONY, WITTEBERGEN
REMARKS / HISTORY:
1. EGYPT 1882 - NO BAR - 4461 PRIVATE M. EALES, MEDICAL STAFF CORPS
2. KING’S SOUTH AFRICA MEDAL, USUAL TWO BARS
3. ARMY LONG SERVICE AND GOOD CONDUCT, VICTORIAN, 2nd TYPE
4. KHEDIVES STAR - 1882, NAMED 4461/EALES
Military Historical Society