20th Century

Soldiers of the Queen

In the onwards expansion of the British Empire after the Crimean War many small, but intensive, wars, battles and armed skirmishes were fought. Some such as the Indian Mutiny and the two Boer wars are well recorded but many went unheard of and unnoticed. Some like the Second Boer War involved several nations.

Soldiers of the Queen

Britons once did loyally declaim

About the way we ruled the waves.

Every Briton's song was just the same

When singing of her soldier-braves.

All the world had heard it--

Wondered why we sang,

And some have learned the reason why--

But we're not forgetting it,

And we're not letting it

Fade away and gradually die,

Fade away and gradually die.

So when we say that England's master

Remember who has made her so

It's the soldiers of the Queen, my lads

Who've been, my lads, who've seen, my lads

In the fight for England's glory lads

When we've had to show them what we mean:

And when we say we've always won

And when they ask us how it's done

We'll proudly point to every one

Of England's soldiers of the Queen.

This was an immensely patriotic and popular song sung by all people with gusto and written about 1896 by an Englishman, Leslie Stuart. He had been born Thomas Augustine Barrett and adopted a stage name. It encapsulates a belief system in the right of the march of the British Empire justifying the acquisition of foreign lands by hook or by crook, fair means or foul!

Throughout time many men from Highland Strathearn joined the ranks for the Queen’s shilling with the upper echelons of local society embarking on careers at the officer level.

The following sampling comes from a well researched and interesting book written and colllated by Jane C.C. Macdonald and edited by Katherine Marjory Stewart Murray, Marchioness of Tullibardine, Duchess of Atholl, entitled " A Military History of Perthshire 1660-1902." She became known in time as the "Red" Duchess!

In the main it provides a synopsis of military events from roughly the time of the second Ashanti war to the end of the second Boer war in South Africa in 1902. I have selected and included photographs which were in the original manuscript of men from Highland Strathearn supported by photographs from the internet. As will be seen the officer class bursts from its pages with framed photographs and even full page obituaries. The officers are identified by their Army Field rank along with their titles. However, those of the enlisted men are tiny in comparison with many being blurry and indistinct. Their deaths are barely mentioned and less than one liners, and with no bugles. Unlike the photographs of the officers each soldier is numbered! The authors of the book claim that the photographs of the soldiers were made small as there were too many of them and the cost of production would have been too high! The class divisions were very healthy in those days, as they still are. However the photographs are good enough to allow us to have a look at these stalwarts – rank and file.

John McVean (Ardorlich) – Enlisted in the 42nd (Royal Highland Regiment – the Black Watch) in 1861. He rose to the rank of Colour-Sergeant and served in the Third Ashanti war (1873-74) and was awarded a medal with the clasp bearing the name “Coomassie”. He transferred to the Permanent Staff Highland Rifle Militia (now the 3rd Seaforth Highlanders) in 1880. He was also awarded the Long Service medal and discharged in 1889.

Note: Coomassie, now called Kumasi, is in Ghana, and was eventually occupied by the British in 1896. This medal, the Ashantee medal, was awarded to participants in the battle of Amoaful on 31st January, 1874.

Daniel Mcfarlane, Quartermaster-Sergeant, Comrie. Enlisted in 1880 in the 25th (Kings Own Borderers) Regiment. Served with the Suakim Field Force, 1888 (medal with clasps “Gemaizah,” and Khedive Star). Served also with the Chitral Relief Force, 1895, and in the Campaign on North-West Frontier of India with Tirah Expeditionary Force, 1897-98 (medal with clasps “Relief of Chitral,” “Punjab Frontier”, 1897-1898, and “ TIRAH”, 1897-1898, Long Service Medal. Discharged 1901

Gemaizah Medal

Khedive Star

Medal for Tirah, Punjab Frontier and Relief of Chitral

Scottish Soldiers and Ghurkhas at Tirah

Corporal Robert Carmichael

El Teb Medal

Obverse side of El Teb Medal

Black Watch at the Battle of El Teb = 29th February, 1884

Medal for the Battle of Kirkeban and the Nile Expedition, 1881-1884

John A. Burry, Private enlisted 1885 in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Served in the South African War 1900-1902 (Queen’s medal, with clasps “Natal” and “Transvaal”; King’s medal, with clasps “South Africa, 1901” and “South Africa, 1902”.

Private John Burry

South Africa

John Napier Carmichael, Private, Comrie. Joined the 4th Volunteer Battalion the Black Watch in 1897. Served in South African War with 1st Volunteer Service company, 1900-1901 (Queen’s medal with clasps “Cape Colony” “Wittebergen” and “South Africa, 1901”.

Private John Napier Carmichael

Stewart Davidson, Private, Comrie. Enlisted in 1901. Scots Guards. Served in South African War, 1902 (Queen’s medal, with clasps “ Cape Colony” , “Orange Free State” and “South Africa”, 1902)”.

Map showing Orange Free State

ohn Ferguson, St. Fillans, Corporal. 4th Volunteer Battalion. Served in South African War with 1st Volunteer Service Company, 1900-1901. Promoted Lance-Corporal and Corporal, 1900 (Queen’s medal. With clasps “”Transvaal” “Orange Free State”, “Cape Colony,” and “South Africa, 1901”.

Corporal John Ferguson

George Neish, Trooper. Enlisted in 1900. Served in South African War, 1900 (Queen’s medal, with clasps “Cape Colony”and “Transvaal”.

Trooper James Neish

Charles William Sharp, Comrie. Civil Surgeon. Served in the South African War with Scottish National Red Cross Hospital. 1900 and as Civil Surgeon attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps, 1901-1902. Was on duty in Cape Colony and Orange River Colony (Queen’s medal with four clasps). Relinquished appointment at the end of the war.

Map of Northern India

The Stewarts of Ardvorlich were well represented in India, Africa, Burma, and China in the latter part of the nineteenth century!

Stewart, George. C.B. Major-General (6th son of the late Major W. M. Stewart, and grandson of William Stewart of Ardvorlich). Educated at St. Andrews and London. Gazetted Ensign East India Company’s Service, 1856. Promoted Lieutenant, 1857. Served in Indian Mutiny, 1857-1858, (1) in Volunteer Cavalry, with Major-General Havelock’s force, 1857-1858; took part in actions at Futtehpur, Aoung, Pandu Nuddi, Cawnpore, Unao, Busserutgung, (both actions), Bithur, Mungarwar, and the Alambagh; also relief and subsequent defence of Lucknow. Was also present at capture of Lucknow by Sir Colin Campbell. Served (2) with 1st Sikh cavalry, 1858, in actions of Simra, Nawabgunge, Bara Banki, reoccupation Fyzabad, actions at Poorwa, Morar, and Nihow (mentioned in despatches), taking of fort at Simri, actions of Murputgung and Doondiakiern, taking of forts at Omrea and Futtehpur, and action at Koolie-ka-bund – wounded and horse wounded (medal) with two clasps, and a year’s service at Lucknow. Served with 1st Sikh Cavalry throughout campaign in China, in 1860, including actions of Sinho (wounded, and mentioned in despatches), Chankiawan, and Palichau, and surrender of Pekin (medal, with two clasps). Served with the 11th Bengal Cavalry in campaign on the North-West Frontier of India (Ambela), under General Garvock, 1863 (medal with clasp). Promoted Captain, Bengal Staff Corps, 1868; Commandant of Cavalry and Squadron. Officer Queen’s Own Corps of Guides, 1870; Commandant of Guides and Squadron Commandant., 1877. Served with Corps of Guides in Jowaki-Afridi Expedition, 1877-1878, under General Keyes (mentioned in despatches); clasp). Took part in operations against the Ranizai (now Pakistan) village of Skakot, and commanded the cavalry in attack on the Utman Khel villages, March 1878. Served in the Afghan War, 1878-1880, in command of the Guides Cavalry, being present at capture of Ali Musjid, in operation round Kabul, December, 1879, and in second engagement at Charasia (mentioned in despatches; brevet of Lieutenant Colonel; medal with two clasps). Promoted Colonel, 1883; 2nd - in - command and Squadron Commandant., 1884; Major-General and C.B., 1887. Retired, 1887.

Major General George Stewart when he was a Lieutenant-Colonel

Futtehpur is in Northern India and was built by the Emperor Akbar as his capital. It is about 20 miles from Agra.

Hiranminar – Elephant Tower – Fatehpur, Sikri Agra

Tomb of Hazrat Salim Chisti (1570) - Fatehpur Sikri Agra

The Boland Gate, Fatehpur, Sikri Agra. Built by Emperor Akbar to celebrate his victory in the Deccan, 1602


Sutter Ghat, Cawnpore

Outside the Bibighar Well, Cawnpore

The Bibighar Well and Slaughter House, Cawnpore

The Battle for Cawnpore

Shiva Temple in Bithur

Alam Bagh, Lucknow, by Lt C.H. Mecham on 25 December 1857

Alam Bagh, Lucknow, 1858. The Building is Bara Dari. The British camped here before storming Lucknow.

The Secundra Bad at Lucknow, 1858 - Felice Beato

The British Residency, Lucknow, 1858 - Felice Beato

The 93rd Highlanders at Lucknow

La Martinière Boys School, Lucknow

Morar, now Gwalior, India. Morar was a British Cantonment and Political Outpost.

He then was sent to China taking part in the Campaign getting underway there. He was there for three years and saw action at several locations where he was wounded.

Battle of Palichau

An-Ting Gate, Pekin

Grand Entrance to the Winter Palace, Pekin

Medals for the Relief of Pekin

Ali Masjid from the Kyber Pass

Ali Masjid Fort and Kyber Pass

Cabul (Kabul) Cantonment

This map provides an overview of Kabul which would be very familiar to General Stewart. It is also, today, a very dangerous place!

Stewart, James Anthony, Captain (Eldest son of the late Colonel Anthony Stewart, and great grandson of William Stewart of Ardvorlich). Gazetted 2ndLieutenant in the Royal Artillery, 1887. Served in Burma, 1889-1892, and took part in operations of Tonhon Expedition (medal with clasp). Promoted Lieutenant, 1890. Served with Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low, 1895, with Mountain Battery, and was present at capture of Malakand Pass, and in actions in Swat Valley, at Panjkora River, and Mamugal (medal with clasps). Promoted Captain, 1897. Transferred to Royal Garrison Regiment and appointed Ordnance Officer, 4th Class, 1900. Served in South African War, 1900-1902, and took part in operations in Cape Colony, December, 1900 and in Transvaal, December 1900 to May 1902 (Queen’s medal with three clasps; King’s medal with two clasps).

Panjkora River, North-West Frontier

Stewart John, Colonel, C.I.E. (of Ardvorlich). Educated at St. Andrews and Royal Military College, Addiscombe. Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant Bengal Artillery (now Royal Artillery), 1851. Promoted 1st Lieutenant, 1857. Served during Indian Mutiny, 1857-1858, with Ordnance Department on Lines of Communication between Allahabad and Cawnpore. Promoted Captain, 1861; Major 1872. Employed chiefly in Ordnance Department, under Civil Administration of the Army, and Superintendent of Harness and Saddlery Factory at Cawnpore, 1874-1888. Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, 1878. Brevet Colonel, 1882. C.I.E. 1887. Retired, 1888.

Battle for Allahabad

The Fort at Allahabad and the River Jumna

Palace at Allalabad

Stewart, John Lindesay, Lieutenant (2nd son of Colonel Stewart of Ardvorlich). Born 1875. Educated at Sherborne School and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant Indian Staff Corps (now Indian Army), and appointed Officiating Squadron Officer 11th (Prince of Wales’s Own) Bengal Lancers, 1894. Served with Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low, 1895, with 11th Bengal Lancers (medal, with clasp). Promoted Lieutenant, 1897. Served in campaign on North-West Frontier of India under Sir William Lockhart, 1897-1898, with 11th Bengal Lancers, and took part in operations of Malakand Field Force, including operations in Swat (clasp). Appointed to 15th Bengal (Cureton’s Multani) Lancers (now 15th Lancers (Cureton’s Multanis), 1900. He died at Murree, June 2, 1902

Murree, the Punjab

Stewart, Robert Joseph Tucker, Captain (2nd son of the late Colonel Anthony Stewart, and great-grandson of William Stewart of Ardvorlich). Gazetted 2ndLieutenant The Northumberland Fusiliers, 1891. Promoted Lieutenant, 1894. Transferred to Indian Staff Corps (now Indian Army) and appointed Wing Officer 9th Madras Infantry, 1895. Wing Officer 22nd Bengal Infantry (now 22nd Punjabis), 1897. Served in campaign on North-West Frontier of India under Sir William Lockhart, 1897-1898 with 22nd Punjab Infantry. (1) Took part in operations of Malakand Field Force, including operations in Swat and Bajour, and night attacks of Nawagai. (2) Took part in operations of Mohmand Field Force, including capture of Badmanai Pass, and operations in Mittai and Suran Valleys. (3) Served in Lines of Communication with Tirah Expeditionary Force (medal, with two clasps). Served in South African War, 1899-1902, as Special Service Officer. Was afterwards on Staff and on Police duty under Military Governor of Pretoria. Took part in operations in Orange Free State, February to May, 1900, including operations in Paardeberg, and operations in Transvaal, November, 1900 to May 1902 (Queen’s medal, with three clasps; King’s medal with two clasps). Promoted Captain, 1901. Resumed regimental duty, 1902. Served in Kabul-Khel Waziri Expedition, 1902, with 22nd Punjabis.

Attack on the British Camp at Nawagai

Stewart, William, Major. (Younger of Ardvorlich). Gazetted Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Perthshire Rifles, 1876. Promoted Lieutenant, 1878. Gazetted 2ndLieutenant 65th (2nd Yorkshire North Riding) Regiment, 1879. Promoted 1stLieutenant, 1881. Transferred to Bengal Staff Corps (now Indian Army) and appointed Officiating Squadron Officer 19th (The Duke of Cambridge’s Own Lancers (Hodson’s Horse), 1885. Promoted Squadron Officer, 1886; Officiating Squadron Commander, 1887; Captain, 1890; Squadron Commander, 1891. Served with 10th Bengal Lancers in campaign on North-West Frontier of India under Sir William Lockhart. 1897-1898, and took part in operations of the Malakand and Buner Field Forces, including operations in Swat (medal, with clasp). Promoted Major and retired 1889.

South Malakand Camp, 1897

Stewart, William Murray, Captain. Only son of the late J. A. Stewart, M.A., and great-grandson of William Stewart of Ardvorlich. Educated at Charterhouse and Royal Military College, Sandhurst (where he gained Sword of Honour). Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, 1895. Promoted Lieutenant, 1898. Served in the Soudan Campaign, 1898, under Sir Herbert Kitchener, with 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders, and was present at the battle of Atbara. Invalided home (British medal, and Khedive’s medal, with clasp). Promoted Captain 1900. Served in the South African War, 1900-1902, with 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders, and took part in operations in Orange Free State, February to may 1900, including actions at Vet River and Zand River, and in operations in Transvaal, May and June 1900, including actions near Johannesburg and Pretoria. Took part in operations in Orange River Colony. June 1900 to January 1901, including actions at Wittebergen (wounded) and Ladybrand; operations in Eastern Transvaal, January to April 1901, including action in Western Transvaal, March to may 1902 (mentioned in despatches; Queen’s medal with three clasps; King’s medal with two clasps).

They marched away cheerily singing bawdy songs and ditties from the popular music hall. These are some of the songs they enjoyed for a while:

Goodbye Dolly Gray

Another immensely popular music hall song of the time written by the American Will D. Cobb from Philadelphia with music provided by Paul Barnes during the Spanish-American war in 1898 was sung by everyone. It took off like wildfire and was adopted immediately by the British public who had started to wrestle with the Boers in South Africa in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

It was a jaunty ditty with infectious music and easily understood lyrics with a poignant message. Even today it strikes a note of might and right although perhaps the opposite was true!

"I have come to say good-bye, Dolly Gray.

It's no use to ask me why, Dolly Gray.

There's a murmur in the air

You can hear it ev'rywhere

It is time to do and dare, Dolly Gray.

Don't you hear the tramp of feet, Dolly Gray.

Sounding thro' the village street, Dolly Gray.

'Tis the tramp of soldiers true

In their uniforms of blue,

I must say good-bye to you, Dolly Gray!"

REFRAIN [sung twice after each verse]

"Good-bye Dolly, I must leave you,

Tho' it breaks my heart to go,

Something tells me I am needed

at the front to fight the foe.

See the boys in blue are marching,

And I can no longer stay.

Hark! I hear the bugle calling,

Good-bye Dolly Gray!"

Hear the rolling of the drums, Dolly Gray.

Back from war the reg'ment comes, Dolly Gray.

On your lovely face so fair

I can see a look of care

For your soldier boy's not there, Dolly Gray.

For the one you loved so well, Dolly Gray.

In the midst of battle fell, Dolly Gray.

With his face towards the foe

As he died he murmured low,

"I must say good-bye and go, Dolly Gray!"

The Boers who had really given the British a hiding in a dozen different places also had their songs and who can blame Private Smith after the crushing of Wauchope and the Black Watch at Magersfontein in December 1899 when he wrote the following lines:

Such was the day for our regiment,

Dread the revenge we will take

Dearly we paid for a blunder

A drawing-room General’s mistake.

Why weren’t we told of the trenches?

Why weren’t we told of the wire?

Why were we marched up in column?

May Tommy Atkins enquire…

The Black Watch were decimated at the Trench at Magersfontein

A Boer song of the day written by an half Irish- half Afrikaaner called Sean Else was called the De La Rey song. Koos de la Rey was one of the Boer generals who ran rings round the British.

Jacobus Herculaas (Koos) de la Rey (1847 – 1914)

Boer Song – De la Rey

On a mountain in the night

I lie in the dark and wait

In the mud and the blood

As cold rain soaks me.

And my house and my farm were burnt to ashes

So they could capture us,

But those flames and that fire now burn

Deep within me.

De La Rey, De La Rey come lead the Boers,

De La Rey, De La Rey

General, General, to the last man we shall fall for you.

General De La Rey.

Against the British laughing,

A handful of us against an army of them

With the cliffs of the mountains against our backs

They think it is over.

But the heart of a Boer is deeper and wider,

They will still realize.

On a horse he is coming,

The Lion of the Western Transvaal.

De La Rey, De La Rey come lead the Boers

De La Rey, De La Rey

General, General to the last man we shall fall for you.

General De La Rey.

Because my wife and my child

Are rotting in their camps,

The British running over us,

But our nation shall rise once more.

De La Rey, De La Rey come lead the Boers, etc.

Medals were awarded for those taking part in this war and the following are typical examples. I have included some of them for general interest. The reader can access all of them on various websites on the internet.

Queen’s Medal with four clasps (Transvaal. Dreifontein, Paardeburg and Cape Colony)

Queen’s Medal with 5 clasps (South Africa 1902, South Africa 1901, Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony)

King’s Medal with 2 clasps - (South Africa 1902, South Africa 1901)

Many readers may be interested in seeing some of the ground covered by soldiers from Highland Stathearn and well as the sites of various battles.

Marching into Legend at the Modder River

The Modder River Crossing

The Battle of the Modder River

Battle of Paardeburg


Surrender of General Cronje at Paardeburg

As in the upcoming World War 1 British soldiers behaved with enormous courage and it is a sad admission that their whole command structure should have been left in the stables with the other donkeys! That, as we will see will be covered in our story on Highland Strathearn in the chapter entitled “Where have all the Flowers Gone!”