Medals to the 7th Hussars 10 months 3 weeks ago #67089
Very few SAGSs were awarded to the 7th Hussars:
Byng, Lieutenant Hon A J G. SAGS (1) 1879
Jervis, Lieutenant Hon J E L. SAGS (1) 1879
Lees, 1137 Private W. SAGS (1) 1879
McCalmont, Captain Hugh. SAGS (1) 1879
St Vincent, Lieutenant Lord J E L. SAGS (1) 1879
The group to Hugh McCalmont:
Pictures courtesy of Morton and Eden
Canada General Service (1) Red River 1870 (Capt: H. Mc.Calmont. Staff.);
Ashantee 1873 (0) (Capt: H. McCalmont, 7th Hussars 1873-4);
SAGS (1) 1879 (Major H. M’. Calmont. 7th Hussars.);
Egypt (3) Tel-El-Kebir, The Nile 1884-85, Gemaizah 1888 (Lieut: Col: H. M’. Calmont. 7th Hussars.);
Delhi Durbar 1911, in silver, unnamed as issued;
Turkey, The Order of the Medjidie, Commander’s neck badge in silver, gold and enamels, bearing Ottoman hallmarks to reverse centre;
Turkey, Russo-Turkish War, 1877, in silver, with El Gazi mark beside tughra, unnamed as issued;
Khedive’s Star, 1882, unnamed as issued;
C.B.: London Gazette: 25 August, 1885 (Colonel Hugh McCalmont, 7th Hussars)
K.C.B: London Gazette: 23 May, 1900 (Major-General Hugh McCalmont,
C.B., Commanding Cork District) C.V.O.: London Gazette: 11 August 1903 (Visit to Ireland of His Majesty)
Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont (1845-1924) was born on 9 February 1845 in Dublin, Ireland, the son of James McCalmont and Emily Anne McCalmont (nee Martin), of Belfast. The scion of a rich, land-owning family, he was educated at Eton and at Christchurch College Oxford, receiving his first commission (by purchase) as a Cornet in the 6th Dragoon Guards on 23 June 1865, transferring soon after to the 9th Lancers. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 27 July 1866, and to Captain on 29 May 1869 (both by purchase), afterwards exchanging into the 7th Hussars as Captain on 20 July 1870.
In 1870 he travelled out to Canada under his own initiative in pursuit of active service, and presented himself directly to Wolseley with a recommendation from Sir Hope Grant (under whom he had previously served and befriended, playing piano as accompaniment to Grant’s cello). He was initially turned down, despite the length of his journey, but after threatening to accompany the expedition in his own canoe Wolseley relented and allowed him to take part in the campaign. He impressed Wolseley sufficiently during his service in the Red River campaign that he was given the prestigious task of delivering his Red River despatches from Fort Garry back to England, but in a moment of oversight, once he reached the United States McCalmont entrusted the despatches to the postal system, much to the annoyance of Wolseley – who passed him over for the promotion which usually came with the bearer of despatches. Nonetheless, he forgave the error soon afterwards and included McCalmont amongst his inner circle of talented and loyal officers, known thereafter as the ‘Wolseley Ring’.
He served again under Wolseley during the Ashantee Campaign of 1873-74, and in 1876 he volunteered during a period of leave to travel to China to report on the political situation there. He also used leave to travel to Constantinople “to watch how things were proceeding, and to try and get a footing…in advance of hostilities…” during which time he secured a promise from the military attaché to notify him in the event of a crisis. In due course, McCalmont was employed as an additional attaché at the Ottoman Headquarters in Armenia during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, and was present during the Battle of Kars that year. He served for a time in Cyprus and was promoted to Major on 30 November 1878, afterward serving as A.D.C. to Wolseley in South Africa, taking part in the campaign against the Sekhukhuni - during which time McCalmont reportedly had ‘terrified’ war correspondent W. H. Russell of the Daily Telegraph ‘by putting a baby ape in his bed.’ Pranks aside, McCalmont served well, was mentioned in despatches, and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on 24 July 1880, specifically for his services during the South African Campaign. He also repeated his tactic in 1880 of travelling during a period of leave to Afghanistan, where he was served for a short time during the expedition against the Marri.
While serving with the 7th Hussars in this period, McCalmont befriended Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (Queen Victoria’s youngest son), who was also in the same regiment. McCalmont was with the young Prince when their boat sank over Maidstone Weir, once accidentally hit him in the face with a thrown orange, and reportedly set off a naval maroon rocket under his whist table while the Prince was playing cards, where ‘the explosion destroyed the table, broke windows and a mirror and filled the room with smoke’. Prince Arthur, seeking revenge, later raided McCalmont’s room and festooned a tree with his clothes and possessions on the mess lawn.
Frustrated by home service and desperate for action, McCalmont slipped away from his command of the 4th Dragoon Guards in Ireland (with only partial authorisation) in order to take part in the events taking place in Egypt at Suakin. He was subsequently selected to join the Staff and was made Brigade Major of the 1st Cavalry Brigade on 12 September 1882. He took part in the capture of Mahsameth, the famous moonlight charge at Kassassin, at the battle of Tel-El-Kebir, and in the Nile Expedition of 1884 he commanded the Light Camel Regiment. For his service in Egypt, he was mentioned in despatches multiple times, was awarded the Order of the Medidjie, and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in August 1885 with the Brevet of Colonel ‘for services during the recent operations in the Soudan [sic]’ that same year.
McCalmont exchanged as Lieutenant-Colonel into the 4th Dragoon Guards on 5 May 1886, and as second in command he attended a parade review in the absence of the commanding officer. McCalmont arrived without the required plume in his helmet, which was politely pointed out to him by his Adjutant. McCalmont replied “You may be right sir, but I cannot be wrong. The regiment will dismount and remove plumes.” In 1895 he became the Ulster-Unionist MP for North Antrim, and was promoted to Major-General on 24 June the following year. He was appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead on 11 February 1899, was made K.C.B. 1900, and was General Officer Commanding the 8th Division in Ireland in 1902. He was placed on retired pay on 1 October 1906. He was given the Colonelcy of the 7th Hussars in 1907, a position which he would keep until his death.
The owner of impressive estates at Mount Juliet near Thomastown in Kilkenny County and in Antrim, McCalmont retired to his home at Abbeylands, a Victorian house in Whiteabbey, near Belfast, but it was eventually set on fire by suffragettes in 1914, as the Ulster Volunteer Force had been drilling troops there, and it’s leader (Edward Carson) had declared against giving women the vote.
In his personal life he married Hon. Rose Elizabeth Bingham in 1885, daughter of the 4th Baron Clanmorris, and he died on 2 May 1924.
Dr David Biggins
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