15 August 2009

The Delhi Durbar, 1903

I was looking through the medal roll for the 1903 Delhi Durbar yesterday; fascinating stuff and a real insight into the administration of Empire. Sandwiched in between the Heralds and Trumpeters, the Jurors of the Art Exhibition, the single beneficiary from the Football & Hockey Tournament and the native and European Mutiny veterans, is the soldiery, both native and British.

A number of British infantry regiments were present, each regiment nominating eight men to receive the Delhi Durbar Medal. Those eight men were:

The Commanding Officer
The Second in Command
Sergeant Major (acting or otherwise)
Senior NCO
Senior Colour Sergeant (not being the senior NCO)
Senior Corporal
Longest Serving Private

I thought it would while away half an hour to look at my army service numbers database and see just when those longest serving privates joined their regiments. The following infantry regiments are listed on the 1903 Delhi Durbar roll:

1st Northamptonshire Regiment
1st South Wales Borderers
2nd Welsh Regiment
2nd Gordon Highlanders
2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
1st Royal Irish Rifles
1st Bedfordshire Regiment
1st Norfolk Regiment

2nd Rifle Brigade
2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps
2nd Yorkshire Regiment

1st North Staffordshire Regiment1st Royal Munster Fusiliers

Unfortunately, only those regiments indicated in Bold reveal the army numbers of their nominated recipients on the medal roll, and the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers only fielded two men: Brevet Major G D Crocker (senior officer) and Bandmaster Elcox (senior NCO). Here though, are the details of the longest serving privates for those regiments which did record army service numbers:

3184 Pte W Brown, 2nd Welsh Regiment
448 Pte W Heron, 1st Royal Irish Rifles
2697 Pte Odell, 1st Bedfordshire Regiment
1629 Pte A J Helps, 1st Norfolk Regiment
4811 Bandsman J Gibson, 2nd Rifle Brigade
3919 Pte A R Miller, 2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps
246 Pte H Walklate, 1st North Staffordshire Regiment

All of these men, with the exception of 448 Pte Heron and 246 Pte Walklate, joined their regiments before the Childers reforms of 1881. Their numbers belong to the old series in use by the Regiments of Foot. Private Heron must have joined the 1st Royal Irish Rifles in 1882 or 1883, while Pte Walklate must have joined the North Staffordshire Regiment in the first half of 1882. All of which means that the seven men listed above, had over 140 years' of soldiering experience between them and, lined up under the hot Delhi sun in 1903, probably felt that they well and truly deserved the Delhi Durbar medal.

I've taken the image on this post from an informative blog post on the 1903 Delhi Durbar.

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QVR said...

Hi Paul

Do you have anything on the 1911 Durbar? One of my g-uncles is supposed to have been awarded the medal for that one.



Paul Nixon said...

Hi Andy

Yes, I do. Send me the details please.


Unknown said...

My father was a bandsman in the Royal Berks at the Delhi Durbar.

There is no mention of this regiment in the listings here.

Paul Nixon said...

I have data for most regiments and most numbering sequences within regiments, but I haven't posted all of that data here. If you let me know his number I'll narrow his enlistment date down for you.

Unknown said...

Thanks, his number was 8672. However I think he was at the later Delhi Durbar as his regiment got posted to France at the outbreak of WWI

Paul Nixon said...

Lionel, the number dates to between the 30th December 1907 and 1st January 1908.

Unknown said...

Do u have any details about the recipients of delhi durbar medal 1903...my grand ather was awarded the first row seat by Mr Curzon at the ceremony and was given the medal.

Paul Nixon said...

A roll of recipients was published. What was his name?

Judith said...

My great grandad was a colour sergeant in f
South Wales Borderers and has the Delhi Durban medal for 1903. Do you know how I can find out more about his military service.

Paul Nixon said...

Judith, please drop me a line: paul@britisharmyancestors.co.uk with his name and regimental number and I'll let you know if I can help.

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