2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

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2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

Postby Victorian Dad » 31 Aug 2017 10:27

Ladies/Gents,

Has anyone got any knowledge of this regiment and it's role in the 1882 campaign?

I've seen a dated example of a medal named to this regiment, but without the clasp Tel-el-Kebir ( I believe 147 such examples exist). With 696 with the clasp.

I'm curious to know how this would come to be? Where the 147 deployed doing something else at the time of the battle or were they replacements that arrived after the battle?
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Re: 2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

Postby A Waterston » 05 Sep 2017 13:03

2 DCLI deployed from Gibralter to Alexandria via Malta. Their first engagement was with the Marines, sailors and the South Staffords, who under the command of Maj Gen Alison were based in Ramleh and skirmishing with the Egyptian’s entrenched at Kafr-Dawar on the narrow strip of land between the shallow lakes Aboukir and Mariut. They then reboarded their transport and travelled with the main force down the Suez Canal to Ismailia.

On arrival they were tasked with guarding the station and marshalling yard at Nefiche, but those orders were soon changed. Wolseley sent out a recce force on the morning of 24th August and soon ran into an Egyptian defensive position at Tel-el-Mahuta, about 9 miles west of Ismailia. Concerned that he might be outflanked and overrun before he had even finished unloading any guns or stores at Ismailia he ordered the DCLI and the Guard’s Brigade to march at pace and reinforce his position. Dressed in their heavy serge uniforms and with little water and no equipment or rations they marched through soft sand in 100 degrees to reach the British positions. Fortunately, by the time they arrived the Egyptian’s had decided to stay put rather than attack so they were held in reserve to recover.

On the 25th they attacked the Egyptian entrenchments to find them deserted and they then marched on to Mahsama (4 miles west of Tel-el-Mahuta), where the cavalry, sweeping down off the hills to the North had inflicted heavy casualties on the Egyptians who were continuing their retreat (mainly by train) back to their main defensive position at Tel-el-Kebir.

On 26th they marched out with General Graham’s Brigade to secure Kassassin lock and railway station 4-5 miles west of Mahsama. 611 men of 2 DCLI took up a defensive position south of the railway line and between the old and new sweetwater canal. 3 Companies were forward in extended order with supports and reserves under cover of the railway embankment. By the time the Egyptian’s attacked on 28th they had not eaten for 3 days – surviving on dried out Egyptian biscuits they had rescued from among the bloated bodies of the Egyptian dead, dumped in the canal. The Egyptian attacking force outnumbered the British 8 to 1 but was beaten back and then defeated by a moonlight charge by the heavy cavalry.

They were attacked again on 9th September as the British completed their preparations for an assault on the main Egyptian position at Tel-el-Kebir. They provided support to the Royal Irish from their position on the South bank of the canal and took no casualties.

Tel-el-Kebir was almost an anti-climax for DCLI. With 3Bn King’s Royal Rifle Corps, they formed part of Col Ashburnham’s 4 Brigade. They were therefore the second line at the extreme left of the British attack 1000yds behind the Highland Light Infantry who were the most heavily engaged British unit. HLI took on the Nubian troops who fought fiercely from well prepared positions on elevated ground; they took 243 of the 339 British casualties in the battle. DCLI took 1 officer and 5 men wounded.

Not all men were awarded the Tel-el-Kebir clasp - heatstroke and disease were a factor, and some men would have been left at Kassassin as a rearguard.
Andrew
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Re: 2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

Postby Victorian Dad » 23 Sep 2017 16:22

That's very interesting/helpful to my research, many thanks!!!!!
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Re: 2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

Postby Derbys » 24 Sep 2017 13:16

See "Reminiscences of Gibraltar, Egypt and the Egyptian War 1882 ' by John Philip (late sergeant) 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Published 1893.
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Re: 2nd Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.......

Postby Victorian Dad » 28 Sep 2017 08:45

Derbys wrote:See "Reminiscences of Gibraltar, Egypt and the Egyptian War 1882 ' by John Philip (late sergeant) 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Published 1893.



Just in the process of reading it now, well worth a read for anyone who hasn't read it.
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