THE RETURN TO INDIA—WELCOME HOME—HONOURS AND ORATIONS—DISBANDMENT
On arrival at Cape Town, Colonel Lumsden was told that the accounts of his corps were the only pay-sheets of any Irregular contingent that had been kept up to date; and the men of Lumsden’s Horse left South Africa not only in possession of every shilling of pay then due to them, but just as they had left India ten months earlier, owing not a debt in the country, though the country owed them much in the form of obligations that can never be forgotten except by the men, who, conscious of duty nobly done, need no other reward. They were leaving South Africa assured by every testimony that high approval could give that they had done their duty and done it well. They had with other soldiers taken their full share of great hardships. The weariness of long marches, the trying ordeals of exposure to fierce heat by day and bitter cold at night, sometimes drenched to the skin when they lay down to rest on the bare veldt with no tent to shelter them and not always a blanket to cover them, at other times benumbed by the icy coldness of a wind that stiffened their wet khaki tunics with frost which the sluggish blood had not warmth enough to thaw—all these things they had borne with a manly fortitude that won the respect of war-hardened veterans; and they were going back with the knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief of such an army as Great Britain had never sent to war before in all the long course of her Empire-making history, had signified his approval of their conduct in that telegram to the Viceroy of India expressing recognition of the excellent service rendered by officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, of whom he said: ‘It has been a pride and a pleasure to me to have under my command a Volunteer contingent which has so well upheld the honour of the Indian Empire.’
With these words assuring them of a great soldier’s appreciation, they were going back to the certainty of an enthusiastic welcome from the people of India, to whose honour all the good deeds of Lumsden’s Horse redound. Of the warmth of that welcome His Excellency the Viceroy had given them a foretaste when, in his reply to the message received from Lord Roberts, he sent back by cable the inspiriting words: ‘India will welcome those who are coming back with enthusiasm and wish God-speed to those who stay.’
It was with knowledge of the deep interest taken by Lord Curzon in all things concerning Lumsden’s Horse that the Commander-in-Chief telegraphed to him something more than a formal recognition of their services. It was with characteristic intuition and tact that the Viceroy replied, giving voice to the wishes of a whole people and expressing those wishes in the choicest of phrases. In this telegram Lord Curzon epitomised the meaning of all that he had said or done for the welfare of Lumsden’s Horse since the corps was formed nearly a year earlier, and his desire that its services should be recognised both officially and publicly as a bond between India and the Mother Country—an epoch-making event in which all classes of the Empire might equally take pride. All this and more His Excellency continued to demonstrate by the share he took in welcoming the warriors home, when his eloquent words appealed alike to the quick sympathies and to the intelligence of those who heard him speak, or read what he had to say. And long after the flood of popular enthusiasm had reached its height he continued to manifest his interest in the corps by practical efforts to benefit its surviving members, and by a most graceful tribute to the memory of those whose lives had been sacrificed for the honour of the Empire. At his own cost, Lord Curzon erected a tablet in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta, on which was inscribed the name of every man of the corps who had died in South Africa, and himself wrote the touching lines that will through after-ages commemorate the services they rendered. Throughout, Lord Curzon’s great aim was to foster and encourage the spirit of volunteering, the importance of which to a world-wide Empire nobody realises more fully than he. As a proof of his conviction in this regard, he has succeeded in getting an Inspector-General of Volunteers appointed on the Staff in India, and the first holder of this office is Major-General Hill, of the Bombay Staff Corps.
Directly it was known through the telegram sent by Lord Roberts from Irene that Lumsden’s Horse were actually on their way home, a committee met at the Chamber of Commerce and elected Sir Patrick Playfair as its chairman. This body was thoroughly representative of the mercantile community and all the complex elements that constitute the most influential sections of society in Calcutta. It included judges, barristers, doctors, solicitors, besides the most prominent native merchants and princes, and formed altogether one of the most typical assemblages ever known in the city. It was called to decide what sort of reception should be given to Lumsden’s Horse, and its deliberations closed with the unanimous resolve to make the occasion worthy alike of a great country and of those who had fought for its honour with a courage and devotion characteristic of British soldiers. The decision was telegraphed to His Excellency the Viceroy, who was at that time absent from Calcutta on tour. The Committee were very anxious that Lumsden’s Horse should arrive in time to take part in the New Year Proclamation Parade commemorating the Empress of India’s accession, when, according to custom, there is a great military concentration in Calcutta of Regular troops, Volunteers, and all branches of the Imperial Service to be reviewed by the Viceroy.
In reply to Sir Patrick Playfair’s message the following telegram was received:
Copy of a Telegram from U.S.V. to Sir Patrick Playfair, dated Bangalore, December 8, 1900.
The Viceroy will be very glad to take part in any reception that it may be possible to organise for Lumsden’s Horse on their return to Calcutta, and would gladly entertain them to lunch or in some other way; he consulted military department upon the subject a fortnight ago, but has received no reply; difficulty seems to be, first, that force is coming back in separate batches; second, that all of these do not come to Calcutta, one batch being due at Bombay December 24; it is for consideration whether it would be possible to invite the whole force to Calcutta and give them public reception, but there may be difficulties in this course.
About this time the Executive Committee received a most gratifying tribute to the reputation that the contingent had made for itself in South Africa. This was an intimation that Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund had voted 500l., under the rules of the institution, towards the expenses of Lumsden’s Horse in acknowledgment of their services to the Empire. A cheque for this generous amount had been forwarded to the Government of India.
Taking up again the thread of events, Major Neville Taylor tells the story of the voyage from Cape Town to Bombay in his own cheery way:
We had no horses to look after and no drill; no saddles or rifles, but plenty of accommodation for the men. I think everyone enjoyed the rest immensely.
Proceeding to Durban, we picked up most of the men who had left on urgent private affairs in the ‘Catalonia,’ which had been unexpectedly stopped at Durban. After the rough living of the veldt, the good feeding on board ship was very welcome, and rapidly told its tale in the condition of the men. Before leaving Cape Town, the Colonel had authorised the purchase of extra stores for the men out of the corps funds. Two or three evenings every week were wiled away with sing-songs, and many hours of each day devoted to sport of some sort. These gave Trooper J.S. Cowen, the regimental artist, many opportunities of adding character sketches to the portfolio that was already well filled with subjects from the war. On Christmas Day the men had a really good dinner, and the officers were the guests of Captain Wallace, the kind veteran commander of our ship, the ‘Atlantian.’ After a very lively voyage, during which but one ship was sighted since the South African coast sank below the horizon, we drew near the land of Hindustan once more. A day or so before our arrival everyone was very busy putting things clean and straight. On the morning of December 31 we came in sight of the mark-boat, which was gaily dressed with flags in our honour and gave us a salute with her gun. This was the first hint we had of the enthusiastic reception awaiting us in India. As soon as anchor was dropped, we officers received an invitation from the General to lunch with him at the Yacht Club, and an intimation that the men were all to land at 5 P.M.
On December 26, Brigadier-General Ventris, Commanding at Bombay, had issued the following Garrison Order:
In connection with the expected arrival of Lumsden’s Horse from South Africa per transport ‘Atlantian’ on or about the 28th inst., the Officers commanding 2nd Bombay Grenadiers and 21st Bombay Infantry will be good enough to detail their bands to be in attendance at the Ballard Pier at 8 A.M. (on date to be hereafter notified).
All Officers of the Garrison, Regular and Volunteers, are invited to be present.
Dress.—Review order, summer clothing.
The following appeared in the District Orders for the next day:
On the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse they will be marched from the Ballard Pier to Victoria Terminus, viâ Elphinstone Circle, Church Gate Street, and Hornby Road.
The troops and Volunteers in garrison will line each side of Hornby Road from the Floral Fountain to Victoria Terminus in the following order, on Friday, the 28th inst., commencing at the Floral Fountain: Royal Garrison Artillery; Norfolk Regiment (Detachment at Colaba); 2nd Bombay Grenadiers; 21st Bombay Infantry; Bombay Volunteer Artillery; Bombay Volunteer Rifles; and 1st B.B. & C.I. Railway Volunteer Rifle Corps.
The Bombay Light Horse will, if possible, furnish a mounted escort.
The Regular troops will rendezvous at the Floral Fountain and the Volunteers at the Victoria Terminus at 7.30 A.M. As Lumsden’s Horse pass, troops should shoulder arms. When they have reached Victoria Terminus troops may march to quarters.
Dress.—Review order, summer clothing.
The signal for the arrival of the transport ‘Atlantian’ with Lumsden’s Horse on board will be four guns to be fired from the Saluting Battery.
Officers commanding corps are requested to have someone at the Saluting Battery up to 6 A.M. on the 28th inst., to ascertain if the transport is signalled. Should the steamer be signalled after 6 A.M. the parade will not take place till the 29th inst. at the same hour.
The ‘Atlantian,’ however, did not reach Bombay Harbour until 7 A.M. on December 31, with the following officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of Lumsden’s Horse on board:
Colonel Lumsden, Captain and Adjutant Taylor, Captain Beresford, Captain Noblett, Captain Holmes, Surgeon-Captain Powell. Staff—Regimental Sergeant-Major Hewitt, Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, Staff-Sergeant Stephens, Farrier-Sergeant Marshall, Farrier-Sergeant Edwards, Pay-Sergeant Fraser, Orderly-Room Sergeant Graves, Sergeant Longman, Lance-Sergeant S.S. Cuthbert, Saddler Briggs, Privates Lowe, Lee, and Hayward. A Company—Company Sergeant-Major Mansfield, Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Booth, Sergeants Fox, Llewhellin, Stowell, Donald, and Rutherfoord, Corporal Macgillivray, Lance-Corporals Lemon and Godden, Privates E.S. Clifford, F.M. Clifford, C.H.M. Johnstone, Corbett, Dickens, Bradford, Cowen, Webbe, Kennedy, Courtenay, Zorab, Renny, Ritchie, Gordon, Atkinson, Watson, Brown, Henry, Allan, Aldis, John, Newton, Reid, Campbell, Bell, Macdonald, Haines, Smith, Hughes, Tancred, Bolst, Burnand, Dowd, and Palmer; Transport-Sergeant Power, Privates Lovegrove, Doyle, Manville, Paxton, Daly, and Scott; and Lance-Corporal Wheeler. B Company—Sergeant Conduit, Lance-Sergeant Warburton, Corporal Jackman, Privates Nicolay, Bagge, Innes, Williams, Nolan, Betts, Turner, Powis, Thelwall, Lytle, Spicer, Lungley, Winder, Dexter, Martin, Moorhouse, Maxwell, and Allardice; Transport-Sergeant Smith, Privates Rice, Crux, Meares, Rust, and Quartermaster-Sergeant Morris.
Before going on shore at Bombay, Colonel Lumsden received the following telegram from Sir Patrick Playfair, C.I.E., Chairman of the Calcutta Reception Committee:
The people of Calcutta bid you and your gallant corps welcome. They are proud of the way in which Lumsden’s Horse has represented India against Britain’s enemies. They wish to do you honour on arrival in Calcutta. You will be given a public reception, and the military bands will play you into your camp. It is proposed that your corps should take part in the Proclamation Parade on the morning of January 1, and then attend a special Divine Service at the Cathedral. His Excellency the Viceroy will entertain the corps at luncheon on Wednesday, January 2, and the reception committee are organising an evening party in the Town Hall for the night of the same day.
Sir Patrick Playfair supplemented his telegram by a characteristically cordial letter which Colonel Lumsden found also awaiting him when the ‘Atlantian’ reached Bombay two days later:
Calcutta: December 24, 1900.
MY DEAR LUMSDEN,—Welcome back to India! You and your gallant men have done splendid service, of which your countrymen in India, and your native friends here, are justly proud, and you will have a great reception. Owing to the numbers that wish to give you and the members of your corps a hearty welcome, it may not be possible to inaugurate a public banquet, and the alternative may be a reception in the Town Hall on the evening of the 1st if His Excellency the Viceroy can be present after the State dinner at Government House.
The Viceroy is taking the keenest interest in the return of the corps, and is considering what had best be done. He has expressed his wish to give the corps a luncheon at Government House.
It is suggested that you should arrive here on the evening of the 31st or at dawn of the 1st, and be accommodated in camp on the Maidan and take part in the Proclamation Parade on the morning of the 1st, attend a short service in the Cathedral, and have a reception in the Town Hall in the evening.
A meeting has been called, to be held in the rooms of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, the 26th, to form a Reception Committee.
You will be brought across at Government expense, and when in camp the corps will draw ration pay, and the Executive Committee of Lumsden’s Horse will arrange as formerly for your food while in camp.
It is to be hoped that all the members of your corps will come across; and the Viceroy is further desirous that members of the corps who have already returned to India and taken their discharge should be invited to come to Calcutta and take part in the parade and public demonstration. I am, therefore, communicating with those members who have already returned to India, so far as I am aware of their names and addresses.
The corps will be disbanded here, and the members will receive warrants for railway fare to their homes.
Expenses connected with the public reception of the corps will be met independently of the Lumsden’s Horse Fund. There is a balance here of about Rs. 14,000 at credit of the fund. From your telegram received from Durban—for which I thank you—we infer that you are returning with about Rs. 40,000. The settlement of account for horses originally contributed by troopers to the corps has yet to be made. This is rather a large item. If the above balances be left, there should be a fair sum at the disposal of the corps after liabilities are met.
Messrs. King, King, & Co. have kindly undertaken to have sola topees waiting your arrival, as requested by telegram, and also to deliver letters on board.
I am asking King, King, & Co. to wire to me whenever the steamer is sighted, and again so soon as they ascertain how many of the corps are with you—officers and men—on board. This is necessary and desired, as there is some inconsistency between the military telegraphic information and that received by me from you with regard to your numbers.
Let me know the date and hour when you will leave Bombay, and the date and hour when you will reach Howrah; also where, and on what dates, telegrams will reach you when crossing India.
I shall not ascertain the programme and details of your reception until after the 27th, and I shall have to wire all this.
Bombay may wish to entertain you, and in accepting their hospitality be sure that their arrangements will bring you to Calcutta in time to take part in the Proclamation Parade on the Maidan on the morning of January 1.
It is doubtful if we can mount you. That remains to be seen. If we cannot do so, the corps must march past, and will probably be formed into a guard of honour to His Excellency thereafter.
Have you got your arms with you?
Is there anything in the matter of furnishing that the members of the corps require on arrival?
I shall be very glad to see you, old fellow, and join in the hurrahs that are waiting for you.
Please remember me to all your officers and to the members of the corps.
I may write to you again to-morrow, but I cannot delay a letter any longer in case my communication should miss you.
With the warmest greetings to you and your gallant officers and men, and wishing you all a Merry Christmas,
Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden (Lumsden’s Horse), Bombay.
Colonel Lumsden replied, December 31, 1900:
On behalf my corps please offer my best thanks to people of Calcutta for promised reception. Much regret we have arrived too late to join in Proclamation Parade. Our numbers are seven officers and eighty-nine men. No arms. Our train leaves Bombay 7 to-night, timed arrive Calcutta 6 P.M. Wednesday.
The luncheon was a delightful success, as it always is at the Yacht Club. Then all officers went on board and the official disembarkation was got through.
The ‘Times of India’ of January 1, 1901, had the following:
Among those present at the Bunder when the troops arrived from the ‘Atlantian’ were: His Excellency Lord Northcote, Governor of Bombay; Brigadier-General F. Ventris, Commanding the Bombay District; Lieutenant-Colonel R. Owen, Military Secretary to Lord Northcote; Captain Greig, A.D.C.; Colonel Riddell, Assistant Adjutant-General; Major Butcher, Commanding R.A., Colaba; Captain Oldfield, R.A., Captain Edwardes, Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General; the Honourable Mr. Justice Crowe; the Honourable Mr. S.M. Moses; the Honourable Mr. John R. Greaves; Major A. Leslie, Bombay Volunteer Artillery; Major Soundy, V.D., Bombay Volunteer Rifles; Major Fowle, R.A.; Captain Browne; Lieutenant G.W. Moir, Bombay Light Horse; Captain Stoddart, B.V.A.; Lieutenant Robertson, R.A.; Captain J. Leash, Captain Savage, Captain Rogers, Lieutenant Deane, Lieutenant Sharp, Lieutenant Wilkinson, Lieutenant Moens, and Lieutenant Greaves, all of the Bombay Volunteer Rifles; Prince Samatsingji of Palitana, the Nawab of Radhanpore, and others.
Outside the Bunder shed were drawn up twenty men of the Governor’s Bodyguard, and a detachment of the Bombay Light Horse under the command of Lieutenant G.W. Moir.
The men belonging to Lumsden’s Horse left the ‘Atlantian’ in two Government troop-boats, and landed at the Ballard Pier at 5 P.M., where they were given a cordial welcome by the Bombay Volunteers and the general public, who had assembled at the pierhead in large numbers. They were loudly cheered, and, forming fours, were marched through the shed to the pavilion, in front of which stood the Governor, Lord Northcote. Brigadier-General Ventris presented Colonel Lumsden to His Excellency who cordially greeted him. The men took up their position outside the shed, where they were inspected by Lord Northcote.
The Governor then addressed the men in front of a large gathering of spectators. He said: The present opportunity is one that it gives me great pleasure to avail myself of to extend, on behalf of the Bombay Presidency, a most cordial welcome to you, members of the gallant band, some 281 strong, I believe, who left India some ten months ago to serve our Queen-Empress in South Africa. We have followed with the deepest interest the fortunes of your gallant corps, and we have read with pride and pleasure the testimony that has been borne to your valour and your service by Dr. Conan Doyle in his history of the war and from many other sources. We read with pride and pleasure how you gentlemen, sacrificing your ease and comforts and the luxuries of your Eastern life, went forth to do your duty to your country in South Africa—an object-lesson of patriotism to the Empire, and worthily maintaining the traditions of Outram’s Volunteers. Well indeed have the members of Lumsden’s Horse merited the warm eulogium which the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa paid to you. Most truly did the Viceroy say that the whole of India would greet your return with enthusiasm. You gave us in your first fight a taste of the stuff of which you were made when you cut your way through superior forces, one detachment of you having been surrounded; and you won our admiration by your return when, after losing a large percentage of your number, every member came back with marks of bullets on him. That was but one incident of your career of honour throughout the campaign. This is not the occasion for anything in the nature of a long speech. You are about to proceed to Calcutta, where you will receive a more formal, but not a more hearty, welcome than we in Bombay extend to you to-day. We in Bombay have seen too many valiant soldiers, both Native and European, go forth from time to time to serve the Queen-Empress, not to seize with pride and pleasure every opportunity of welcoming them back again. It is with interest that we learn that many of you remain to colonise and develop those countries which you have aided to enfranchise. Some of your comrades, alas! sleep their last, an honoured sleep, beneath the South African veldt. They were men who held their lives as naught when it came to sealing their loyalty with their life’s blood. To their memory be all honour and all gratitude paid by their fellows in India. You, gentlemen, I will repeat once more, have our heartiest congratulation and our warmest welcome.
Colonel Lumsden, in reply, said: On behalf of the corps which I have the honour to command, let me offer you our warmest thanks and gratitude for the very kind and cordial reception you have given us to-day. I believe the present war was the first which had the honour of calling out the Volunteers from across the seas, and we as the few who represented India feel with deep respect and gratitude the warm welcome you have given us on our return. Gentlemen (turning to his men), I cannot make a long speech, but I ask you all to give three cheers for the Governor and the residents of Bombay for having given us such a hearty welcome.
The members of the corps responded to the call lustily, and the crowd answered again with three cheers for Lumsden’s Horse.
A few brief orders, and the procession formed to march to the station. It was headed by the Bodyguard and the Governor’s carriage as far as the Floral Fountain. The band of the B.V.A. then led the way, followed by the Bombay Light Horse and Lumsden’s Horse. Behind these came numbers of carriages, and on either side pressed a crowd that seemed unable to show its enthusiasm sufficiently. From the offices of the Port Trust, by Elphinstone Circle and along Hornby Road, every window was occupied. Handkerchiefs were to be seen waving on all sides, until even the walls of the houses seemed to awake to the wonder of the scene. After all, it was one such as India has rarely witnessed. The Imperial instinct was aroused. The handful of men following the Colonel they had bravely followed through all the chances and changes of war, by whom they had stood for the sake of their country while the bullets whistled and carried death around, were the embodiment of a great idea, a noble sentiment. And the people saw and appreciated. The crowd that had assembled to await the arrival of the troops as they passed along joined in the march. Some pressed eagerly to speak to the warriors—most were content to realise what it meant, this wave of patriotism. The band in front changed the march tune. The music seemed to become more jubilant as the great mass of soldiers and people swung along in step. Bombay was rejoicing in very truth. The banners hung out from the buildings told of it. The spirit of gladness pervaded everything. Here was a grand ending of the old year. What would the new year bring? A detachment of the Bodyguard had formed a line outside the Victoria Terminus. The Bombay Light Horse took up a position alongside. The band of one of the Native regiments played a welcome, and under the portico Lumsden’s Horse tramped in, followed by an enormous crowd. The officers of the garrison had arranged to give the corps dinner in the refreshment-room. When the meal was over the guests were fairly besieged. In the station itself it seemed as if thousands of spectators had assembled. They shook hands with Lumsden’s men. ‘Welcome,’ ‘Good Luck,’ and ‘A Happy New Year’ were heard everywhere. It was a great day—one worth waiting for. As the train steamed out of the station the building resounded again and again with the cheering. On the line detonators sounded a parting salute, and the crowd, now hoarse with shouting, dispersed.
Major Taylor also deals with these incidents briefly, and then carries on a lively narrative up to the hour when Lumsden’s Horse, having made a record journey across India, arrived at Calcutta:
When the troops landed there was a great crowd with bands playing. The Governor (Lord Northcote) made us a speech full of kindly references and good wishes as he bade us welcome home. The corps then marched with the band and an enthusiastic throng—among which numbers of Parsees were particularly prominent—to the railway station. There all Lumsden’s Horse found themselves the honoured guests of the Bombay Garrison, officers of the Regulars and Volunteers having combined, with the most gratifying unanimity, to give us festive welcome. All the regimental and private baggage had been taken over by our kind hosts and put on the train, so that all the men had to do was just to march into the train. Great enthusiasm prevailed. The fine band of a Native regiment (the 21st Bombay Infantry) played us off, and so, amid much cheering, the train steamed out, firing a salute in our honour as it passed over lines on which detonating signals had been placed at regular intervals. About 10 o’clock at night we passed a Volunteer camp and stopped at the station, where bands were playing. The whole force from camp was paraded on the platform, a great honour at that time of night. Then we went on again at full speed, stopping only for meals at stations, which were dressed gaily with flags, and at each of these bands of sorts assembled, and we were entertained free of cost. One halt was called at a very small station, but even there we were escorted from the train to the dining-tent by the best band they had. It was native and local, its instruments being one big drum, two kettledrums, three flutes, two penny whistles. That was all they could do, but they did it. Their desire to honour us was evident, though their means were small—except the big drum—and this demonstration touched us perhaps even more than the most elaborate ceremonials prepared for our reception. Eventually, at about 7 o’clock, we reached Calcutta, having performed the journey in record time, which was due entirely to the skill, kindness, and courtesy of Mr. T.R. Wynne, manager of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, who caused all other traffic to be shunted wherever necessary in order that Lumsden’s Horse might keep faith with the multitude of friends who were waiting to welcome them in the city from which they had set out.
The following orders were issued by the military authorities at Army Headquarters:
Lumsden’s Horse will be accorded a public reception on their arrival in Calcutta at about 4 P.M. on January 2.
The General Officer Commanding and Staff will meet Lumsden’s Horse at Howrah station; regimental and departmental officers not on duty are invited to attend. Dress: drill order, serge.
Lieutenant-Colonel Swaine, R.I.R., will command the troops; Staff Officers, Major Carpendale and Captain Hill.
The following arrangements will be made at Howrah:
On the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse a procession will be formed. The Calcutta Light Horse will form the advanced guard, followed by the 14th Bengal Lancers. Regimental bands will follow in the following order: 2nd Madras Infantry, 7th Bengal Infantry, Royal Irish Rifles Volunteers. Then will follow General Officer Commanding and Staff and Lumsden’s Horse. The several Volunteer corps will be formed up in line in the order hereinafter detailed, with ranks opened and facing inwards to form a lane, and as the procession passes they will in succession ‘shoulder arms.’ On Lumsden’s Horse passing the Calcutta Port Defence Volunteers, the several Volunteer corps will join in the procession in the order in which they are standing.
The units will be formed in the following order, commencing from Howrah station: E.I.R. Volunteers, E.B.S.R. Volunteers, 3rd Battalion C.V.R., 2nd Battalion C.V.R., 1st Battalion C.V.R., Cossipur Artillery Volunteers, C.P.D. Volunteers.
The procession will proceed along the following route: Hugli Bridge, Strand Road, Clive Ghat Street, Clive Street, Dalhousie Square North, Dalhousie Square East, Old Court House Street, the Lawrence Monument, to Lumsden’s Horse Camp pitched on the Maidan between Calcutta and Plassey Gates.
The Fort William Garrison will line the route from Government Place to the camp in the following order: 20th Bombay Infantry, 2nd Madras Infantry, Royal Irish Rifles, No. 9 Company E.O.R.G.A., 45th Battery R.F.A.
On Lumsden’s Horse reaching their camp, officers commanding corps will form up independently and march to quarters. Should the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse be delayed till after dark, torches will be provided, with reference to which subsidiary orders will be issued.
Definite information as to the time of arrival will be circulated at noon on January 2.
Corps should be in position twenty minutes before the train is due.
The Chief Commissariat Officer will provide transport for the baggage of Lumsden’s Horse, and the 7th Bengal Infantry will furnish an escort of a N.C.O. and twelve men to escort the baggage from Howrah to Camp.
J.M. CARPENDALE, Major,
Officiating Garrison Quartermaster.
In substitution of the memo, bearing the same date:
Officers attending the reception at the Town Hall in honour of Lumsden’s Horse on the evening of January 2 will wear mess dress.
Officers who have been invited as guests by His Excellency the Viceroy to luncheon on January 3, to meet Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden and officers and men of Lumsden’s Horse, will appear in drill order. (Mounted officers, undress overalls and Wellington boots.)
E.R. ELLES, Major-General,
Adjutant-General in India.
Army Headquarters, Fort William: December 31, 1900.
Major Carpendale, of the Bombay Cavalry, acting as Garrison Quartermaster, with great kindness took upon himself all arrangements for the camp. This was pitched on the glacis of Fort William, overlooking the broad Maidan, and provided with every necessary article of equipment, the mess tents and others being in all respects complete and comfortable. The following appeared in the ‘Englishman’ of January 3, 1901:
Punctually at 5.30 yesterday evening, the time previously announced for its arrival, the eagerly awaited train bringing Lumsden’s Horse from Bombay, drew up alongside the new arrival platform of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company at Howrah. The scene which the station presented to the returning Volunteers must have struck those who were not wrapt up in more important personal concerns as exceptionally bright and picturesque. The Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal (His Honour Sir John Woodburn) paid to the corps and its commanding officer the great compliment of coming with his Staff and a brilliant escort to receive them at the station. Outside, where the Bengal Lancers in their striking uniforms, with pennons flying, together with the Calcutta Light Horse, were drawn up, were long rows of tall Venetian masts, from which strings of gaily coloured flags fluttered. ‘Welcome’ in bold white letters on a groundwork of red appeared as the chief feature of an ornamental arch facing the entrance. The roof of the platform itself and the pillars were most tastefully decorated with festoons of evergreens and arrangements of bunting. When mention is also made of the ladies occupying specially erected stands on either side of the gateway, and of the large and representative assembly of officials, military and civilian, gathered, sufficient has been said to warrant the men of Lumsden’s Horse, as they looked out from the carriage windows, feeling that Calcutta was not unmindful of them and had prepared a fitting reception. As the coaches came to a standstill the friends of the ‘boys in khaki’ flocked round to bid them welcome by a hearty grip of the hand, to exchange greetings and news. There were no scenes. Britons do not, as a rule, make public parade of their deepest feelings. The occasion, moreover, was a gladsome one, and it did all present good to note the magnificently robust health of the men displayed in their sturdy figures and ruddy and bronzed faces; all looked remarkably fit, and none more so than the gallant Colonel himself, who was first to step from his carriage. He at once walked towards the group where the Lieutenant-Governor, Bishop Welldon, General Leach, and other distinguished personages were standing. After a course of hand-shaking, the Colonel directed his attention to the detraining of his men. Soon they were busily engaged in getting out their kits. When this task was accomplished, they were formed into line and His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor said:
Colonel Lumsden,—The citizens of Calcutta give you and your gallant men of the Indian contingent a very hearty and enthusiastic welcome. You have had a hard time abroad, and suffered great privations. But I should like you to know that your career has been followed by those left behind in Calcutta with the greatest admiration and pride. Gentlemen all, let us give Colonel Lumsden and his gallant men three hearty cheers.
Needless to say there was a quick and cheerful response to this request, and before it had quite subsided Sir John called for ‘one cheer more,’ which was given with equal heartiness. Colonel Lumsden, in a voice the huskiness of which betokened the depth of his feelings, called on the men of the Indian contingent to respond with ‘three cheers for the Lieutenant-Governor.’ Their effort emphasised the fact that in lung power and appreciation for Sir John Woodburn their trip to South Africa had effected no deteriorating influences, nor was there anything wanting in the worth of the response to the gallant Colonel’s call for ‘one more for the citizens of Calcutta.’ The men then formed fours and marched out to receive the welcome of the thousands collected round the approaches to the station and along the route.
Among those present on the platform were: The Hon. Mr. Cotton, Chief Commissioner of Assam (now Sir Henry Cotton, K.C.S.I.); General Leach, commanding Presidency District; the Most Rev. Dr. Welldon, Metropolitan of India and Lord Bishop of Calcutta; Major the Hon. E. Baring, Military Secretary to the Viceroy; Sir Patrick Playfair; Mr. R.T. Greer, Chairman of the Calcutta Corporation; Rev. Mr. Jackson; Mr. Harry Stuart; Mr. Apjohn, Vice-Chairman Port Commissioners; Major Harington, Commandant Artillery Company C.P.D.V.; Captain Bradshaw, Artillery Company C.P.D.V.; Major Churchill, commanding 9th E.D.G.R.A.; Captain Deverill; Lieutenant-Colonel Meade, Officiating Commandant Calcutta Volunteer Rifles; Dr. J. Neild Cook, Health Officer; Mr. Dring, Agent E.I. Railway; Major Cooper, C.V. Rifles; Colonel Master, Assistant Adjutant-General; Captain Iggulden, Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General; Mr. H.M. Rustomjee, and a host of others.
It was about a quarter to 6, the dusk just merging into dark, when the picturesque procession swung over the bridge. The Calcutta Light Horse, neat and trim, sitting firmly in their saddles, composed the van. The Native Cavalry from Alipur followed—great black-bearded men mounted on fretting horses; then the bands of four regiments, the 2nd Madrasis, the 20th Bombay Infantry, the Royal Irish Rifles, and the Calcutta Volunteers. Immediately behind were Lumsden’s Horse—on foot. The bridge and its approaches were packed with seething masses of people, who were with difficulty restrained from breaking through the ranks of the Calcutta Port Defence and the Rifle Volunteers who lined each side of the roadway and brought up the rear of the procession after Lumsden’s Horse had passed through.
On the Calcutta side of the bridge a novel element was introduced, the flanks of the column being illuminated by numbers of men carrying acetylene lamps on poles—a very efficient substitute for torches. The route taken was almost an historic one, for by it all our great Viceroys have entered Calcutta; but it may safely be said that never have the Strand Road, Clive Road, and that stretch flanked by magnificent buildings which leads direct to the Maidan, witnessed scenes of more moving enthusiasm than when Lumsden’s Horse, after perils oft and tribulations, came marching home again. From Howrah to the camp on the Maidan the roadway and buildings beside were lined with the densest masses of humanity the eye can conceive. The spectacle was a striking illustration of the variety and numbers of the population of Calcutta. Naturally the crowds were thickest in the northern part of the route, where the close-packed Native city contributed its thousands, but even in the more European part of the town one wondered whence the sightseers had come. It is probably no exaggeration to say that so large a multitude of civilian Europeans has never before been drawn together for a similar demonstration in the East.
The decorations were most tasteful, especially down Dalhousie Square South and Old Court House Street, where the larger shops were brilliantly lighted behind the groups of well-dressed people who thronged the verandahs and balconies. Partly because the Oriental is by nature averse to violent demonstration, and partly because there does not exist in India that class which ‘mafficks’ in London streets, there was never any real roar of sustained cheering, but there could be no mistaking the reality and fervour of the emotion that shook the crowd as the returning warriors marched along. Besides, no man of Lumsden’s Horse could have regretted the absence of that which made more touching felicitations possible. The repression of the masculine desire to express feelings by making a noise afforded the feminine element an opportunity of extending a pretty and graceful welcome by waving handkerchiefs and little flags, and uttering with each flutter some tiny cry of admiration and delight, which reached distinctly the ears of those for whom it was meant. The second part of the route was lined by the troops in garrison, including the battery from Barrackpur. Along the Maidan roads down to the camp the crowds were the least dense, but represented the most wealthy sections of the community. In dealing with them there was not the same necessity for police supervision, and if people broke through the line of soldiers, rushing forward to welcome their friends in the ranks, and escorted them to the camp, why, no harm was done. Indeed, unrehearsed incidents of this kind added the final touch to the heartiness and friendliness of India’s greeting to those who had fought for our Empire in a far country. When the long procession drew near Government House in the gathering darkness, H.E. the Viceroy and Lady Curzon, with their children and a large number of the Viceregal Staff, walked to the south-east gate, and, standing on the roadway, waved a welcome to the corps as it marched past. The roads on each side, and hence through the Maidan skirting Eden Gardens, were lined by companies of the Royal Irish Rifles. Of course, the appearance and bearing of the Volunteers whom all had assembled to honour were keenly watched. The men had grown leaner and browner than when they sailed away, and their marching was in strong contrast to the stiff upright gait of the Port Defence Volunteers behind them. It happens that in the stern, actual business of war men learn to grasp only essentials. These returning soldiers had plumbed the realities of life. Hunger they had known, and thirst, and heat, and cold, and wounds, and the ever-present risk of death. In such conditions the formalities that surround the British Army in peace time drop away. Soldiers learn—and their officers too—that, for instance, it matters not how one marches so long as one does march. Thus it is that Lumsden’s Horse came through the streets of Calcutta with bodies swinging carelessly forward, with eyes eager and roving instead of being fixed at ‘attention,’ with ranks loosened instead of being set in compact stiffness. It has sometimes been said that war spoils men for drill. But it is something that the Volunteer ranks in India have been leavened by men who know what campaigning is really like. The feeling of those Calcutta Volunteers who assisted in the procession was thus partly one of pride, for were not Lumsden’s Horse also of themselves, and partly of prospective gratitude, for had not the successes of their comrades in the great war opened the way for their own employment also? No longer can it be said that unless Volunteers attain an irreproachable precision in drill and smartness in bearing they are useless as fighting men.
Large crowds of well-dressed persons, natives, and equipages of all descriptions followed the corps up to the camp, where gunners of the 45th Field Battery lined the way. On arrival there three hearty cheers were given for the men of Lumsden’s Horse, the cheers being repeated over and over till the men were dismissed. In camp the scene was an animated one. Men of the corps, singly and in groups, were centres of attraction to friends and strangers alike. Conversation was free, eager questions being good-humouredly answered, and questions repeated and answered over and over again. The scene was well illuminated. A well-ordered little camp of twenty tents has been pitched on the old cricket ground of the Calcutta Cricket Club, exactly south of the Eden Gardens. The camp has been furnished in ordinary military style and is pitched in rows of three, with one tent for the officers of the corps, a large mess tent, a canteen, and the usual necessaries. Camp furniture only is allowed, consisting of a wooden folding-bed with a straw mattress and pillow, and a few zinc tubs and basins for lavatory purposes. The mess tent consists of four fly tents, open at the sides, with a long table, big enough to accommodate a hundred hungry men, running along its entire length.
After dinner, the men were formed up at 8.45 P.M. and marched into the Town Hall, where they arrived at 9 P.M. After a short stay downstairs they were ordered upstairs, where a most brilliant reception awaited them.
This evening reception at the Town Hall was an entire success. The decorations of the hall were most elaborate and characterised by great taste.
On the landing upstairs, in addition to greenery in profusion, a number of naval 9-pounders and a Hotchkiss machine gun, Nordenfeldts and Maxims were arranged to form a central group, all these being flanked by a number of small ancient ship’s brass cannons and howitzers.
A daïs was erected in the centre of the hall, facing the main entrance, which was occupied by His Excellency the Viceroy, Lady Curzon, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, the Commander-in-Chief, General Leach, Sir E. Buck, Bishop Welldon, Sir F. Maclean, Lady Jenkins, and others, while the space in front was roped off, and here stood in lines the members of Lumsden’s Horse, whose Colonel, as the Viceroy’s party passed through, presented to His Excellency every officer of the corps in turn. No time was lost, after the arrival of Lord and Lady Curzon, in proceeding with the object of the gathering.
His Excellency the Viceroy said:
Colonel Lumsden, Officers and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,—It is not yet a year since I was bidding you farewell at Kidderpur Docks. You had appointed me the Honorary Colonel of a corps of Volunteers that had never seen warfare, but that was starting out at the call of duty, and in many cases at great personal sacrifice, to fight for the Queen and the Empire. Now you have come back, the war-stained and laurel-crowned veterans of a long and arduous campaign; and we are all here this evening to welcome you home and to do you honour. I, your Honorary Colonel, am as proud of you as if I had been through the campaign at your side, which being a man of peace I am very glad to think that I was not called upon to do; and all of us here, the citizens of Calcutta who subscribed to your outgoing, and have kept a watch upon you ever since, feel a sort of parental glow at receiving back again our one corps of Indian Volunteers to South Africa, who have shown that the Englishman in India is not one whit behind his countrymen at home or his cousin in the Colonies in daring and risking and suffering for the flag that waves above us all.
For we know well through what hardships and experiences you have passed since you steamed away down the Hugli in February last. The one characteristic that has struck me most in this South African campaign has been the physical strain and suffering which it has imposed. We have robbed travel and sport and adventure nowadays of most of their roughness, but war, even when your enemy is out of sight, and you scarcely ever set eyes upon him, though it has lost in romance, has not lost, nay—I think it has gained—in peril and privation. We have followed you in your breathless marches across the dismal veldt, in your assaults upon those deadly kopjes, in your days of endurance and fighting, in your grim nights under the cold stars. We have commiserated you when some of your number were taken prisoners, but we were consoled when we heard that you were more frequently the pursuers than the pursued, that you captured far more of the enemy than the enemy did of you. We felt a thrill of pleasure when you were praised by the Generals and, above all, by the brave old Field-Marshal who knew what our men from India could do; and when you were publicly thanked in despatches we all of us felt as if our own names had appeared in the ‘Birthday Gazette.’ One thousand five hundred miles of marching, twenty-nine actions of one kind or another—and all this in the space of ten months. This is not a bad record for our pioneer body of Indian Volunteers.
I was delighted, Colonel Lumsden, that in one respect you most strictly obeyed the final instructions which as your Commanding Officer, in mufti, I ventured to address to you in February of last year. I urged you and your men to be there or thereabouts when the British forces entered Pretoria. Knowing your keen sense of discipline, it was with no surprise that I learned that on June 5 Lumsden’s Horse marched into that place in the van of Lord Roberts’s occupying force. I only regret that I did not issue a few more timely injunctions to you, such, for instance, as the capture of General De Wet, since I have little doubt that you would have carried them out to the letter.
There was one other remark that I made a year ago to which I must allude. I said that there were some among those whom I was addressing who might have to face the supreme peril without which war cannot be waged. You all of you carried your lives in your hands, and a few of your number have handed in your cheques at the great audit. But we rejoice that it was only a few—a brave and heroic fraction, but still only a fraction. You lost your second in command, the gallant Major Showers, whom Nature had intended for a soldier and whom destiny in his first encounter claimed as a hero. But besides him only five others were killed, while two only died of disease in the entire campaign. Indeed, the total casualties were fewer than twenty-four, which in a force of over 250 men is, I think, a very remarkable result. I doubt not that all the rest of you have often faced death, and that many have triumphed over disease. So much the more cause is there for satisfaction at coming back on your part and for rejoicing on ours.
Colonel Lumsden, I am only addressing less than one half of the force that mustered before me a year ago. Some have stayed behind in Africa to continue, in the Regular Army, in the police, or in civil appointments, the good service which they have rendered during the past ten months. Though they are far away, and have cut the painter from India, we include them in our gratitude and well-wishes to-night. Others have already gone back to their Indian homes, and have been unable to attend here to-day. We honour them in honouring you. In their distant plantations or in their employments, wherever they may be, possibly they will read of this gathering, and will know that they equally have their places in our reception. As for the rest of those here present, you, Colonel Lumsden, will always have the pride of recollecting that it was to your initiative and liberality that this corps owed its being, and that in the history of the war it bore your name with credit and without a stain; while you, officers and men, as you revert to your several avocations in civil life, and as the past year fades into a hazy dream, will never forget that at a critical moment in the fortunes of your country you came forward, and staked much, endured much, and wrought much for the honour of the greatest thing on earth—namely, the British name.
Officers and men, it was a pride to me to bid you God-speed nearly a year ago. It is an inexpressible pleasure to me to welcome you back this evening, and to thank you, in the name of India, for what you have done in the service of the Empire.
Colonel Lumsden said: Your Excellency, your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen,—I feel it, though a pleasure, a hard task to endeavour to express the feelings of my men and myself for the very hearty welcome we have received and the very kind speech which our Honorary Colonel the Viceroy has given us this evening. Our Honorary Colonel mentions, and with truth, his words of advice in speaking to us on leaving. We no doubt did our best to act up to it in every way, and I am sure, speaking for myself as leader, there was no difficulty to do so when followed by such men as I had. It was not altogether a party of pleasure. There were rough things and hard times, and I often feared that the Indian man, accustomed as he always is to the well-known kai-hae, would not take to the labour of the veldt as well as he did. I can assure your Excellency that never at any moment when things were at their worst did I hear a word that was not cheerful and pleasant from my men. We have been a fortunate corps in more ways than one. We have been specially fortunate in our health. As our Honorary Colonel remarked, only two men in the whole corps died of sickness. This I think shows in a great measure how well the soldiers were treated. There have been many complaints, I believe, in several quarters as to the treatment of the soldiers there. But taking the class of men I had to deal with, the small percentage of deaths from disease shows we had not much to complain about in that respect. We were fortunate also in our list of casualties. We were all very much touched by the Viceroy’s allusions to those who have gone. No better man existed than Major Showers, no greater loss could be felt by the corps than in his death. He died, I believe, as he often thought he would. He was a soldier to the backbone, and nothing pleased him better than being in the field. Five died besides Major Showers, giving a total of six altogether. That out of 250 men may be looked upon as a small percentage. On the whole, in spite of the hardships the men have gone through, I think there is not one, if the call to arms were sounded to-morrow, who would not love to go back again. We were greatly honoured at having the Viceroy as our Honorary Colonel, and that pleasure was deeply felt by the men and remained in their memory throughout the campaign. When any meed of praise was bestowed upon us one and all felt sure our Honorary Colonel would be pleased to hear of it. I cannot make a long speech to-night. I think the Viceroy himself touched upon most of the points of interest connected with the corps. I can only say how pleased we are with the reception we have got. When we landed in Bombay the Governor said a few kindly words. The streets were lined by thousands of people, and we had a welcome such as we can never forget. Another thing I would wish to touch upon. I think all the corps are proud of the number of commissions our men have got. For this we have entirely to thank the Field-Marshal the Commander-in-Chief. From start to finish there is no doubt his love of India led Lord Roberts to take a keen interest in our Indian corps. Our welcome to Calcutta to-day will, I am sure, sink deeply into all our hearts and be long remembered. I can only say on behalf of my officers and comrades that I thank you all deeply and sincerely. In doing so I feel certain I am expressing the gratitude of us all, not only for what we have received, but what I am told we have yet to receive. I thank you, Sir, very heartily indeed on behalf of the whole corps for the extremely kind way in which you have spoken of us and our work.
The temporary barriers having been removed, the men were soon busily engaged in conversation with their many friends and acquaintances. The band discoursed a bright selection of music for the remainder of the evening.
The ‘Englishman’ of Friday, January 4, 1901, contained the following:
Yesterday afternoon His Excellency the Viceroy and Lady Curzon entertained Colonel Lumsden and the officers and men of the Indian contingent to luncheon at Government House. The function took place in the Marble Hall. The officers and men of Lumsden’s Horse, who were in khaki, occupied two long tables running down the centre of the room at right angles to that at which the Viceroy sat. The floral decorations of the tables were of an exceptionally chaste and artistic character. On the verandah the members of the Viceroy’s band were located, and the most appropriate selection of national and patriotic music which they rendered contributed largely to the success of the luncheon. Ninety-two officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of Lumsden’s Horse were present, and with the guests and Viceroy’s Staff the total number sitting down to luncheon was 169. A pleasing feature of the luncheon was the presence of Lady Curzon and the following ladies: Lady Woodburn, Lady Palmer, Mrs. Harrington, Mrs. Tyler, Mrs. Laurence, Miss Trevor, and Miss Law. The list of guests also included: His Honour Sir John Woodburn, Sir Power Palmer, Sir Francis Maclean, the Metropolitan, Sir Edwin Collen, Sir Arthur Trevor, Sir Edward Law, Hon. Mr. Raleigh, Hon. Mr. Rivaz, Hon. Sir Henry Cotton, Sir Edward Elles, General Luck, General Maitland, Surgeon-General Harvey, General Wace, General Henry, General Dyce, Colonel Buckingham, Sir Patrick Playfair, Mr. Justice Harington, Sir Henry Prinsep, Sir Allan Arthur, Captains Taylor, Beresford, Noblett, Holmes, and Powell of Lumsden’s Horse, Hon. Mr. Bourdillon, Colonel Masters, Colonel Meade, Colonel MacLaughlin, Major Churchill, Colonel O’Donoghue, Captain Wilson, Commander Petley, Colonel Swaine, Major Hoore, Captain Bradshaw, Colonel Wynne, Major Ferror, Captain Ayerst, Rev. J. Hatton, Messrs. Stuart, Sutherland, Elworthy, Kerr, Tremearne, Woodroffe, Turner, Greer, and Apcar.
At the conclusion of the luncheon the toasts of ‘The Queen,’ ‘Colonel Lumsden, Officers and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,’ and ‘The Viceroy’ were enthusiastically honoured.
The same evening the members of Lumsden’s Horse marched to the Cathedral to attend a special thanksgiving service for their safe return. The congregation was a large and most representative one, and included their Excellencies Lord and Lady Curzon, Sir John and Lady Woodburn. The service was brief and bright, the musical portion predominating. The hymns, being well known, were taken up heartily by the congregation, and a magnificent rendering was given by the choir of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ to which result the inclusion of a number of ladies in the choir and an orchestral accompaniment largely contributed. The clergy present were the Metropolitan, Canons Luckman and Cogan, Revs. Brown, Gee, Nansen, Kitchen, Clarke, Wickens, Otley, and Campbell, The men of Lumsden’s Horse occupied the front pews, and at the conclusion of the service filed out immediately behind the choir and the clergy.
The following was the address which the Metropolitan delivered:
It is my privilege, brethren, to offer you in the house of God the words of welcome which have been in all hearts, and upon all lips, since your landing in India—the last words perhaps that shall be addressed to you as a military force. It was here on the fourteenth day of February last that you sought God’s blessing at a special service before setting sail for the war, and it is here by a natural consequence that you come again to render Him thanks on your return.
Brethren, we have followed you with earnest prayers in your long absence. There has not been a Sunday when we have not entreated God to bless you, and keep you safe, and to give victory to your arms, and to bring you home in peace. You will not say or think those prayers have been unheard. The memory of the friends who were far away, of their care for you, and their sympathy in your perils must often have been present to your minds. It may even have happened that you felt strengthened and inspired, as others have felt by the consciousness, of their intercession in your behalf.
Brethren, you have fought, not in a light cause, but for the Empire, whose members and citizens you are. You have been the witnesses, and in part the authors, of a new solidarity between the widely severed forces of the Empire. That solidarity is the great fact, the permanent result, of the war in South Africa. Its influence upon the destiny of mankind will be more and more declared in the new-born century. A new spirit of confederation has dawned upon the Empire, and it is your spirit, and the spirit of men such as you.
May I remind you of a sentence spoken by a high authority on a critical occasion in modern European history? Goethe relates that after the battle of Valmy, at which he was present, he was asked by his comrades in camp to pronounce an opinion upon its significance. He said—and his language may have seemed extravagant when he used it—‘From this place, and from this day forth, commences a new era in the world’s history, and you can all say that you were present at its birth.’ Brethren, the birthday of Imperial solidarity is likewise an event fraught with issues of untold power and moment for mankind; but that solidarity has been born in South Africa, and you can all say that you were present at its birth.
Once more you have realised, and we too, how great and solemn is the cost of an Imperial destiny. It is not by mere child’s play, but by sorrow, pain, and death, that a wide-world Empire, like a Universal Church, is achieved and maintained. You have hazarded your lives, some of your comrades have laid theirs down, for that high cause; and the issue of your sacrifice and theirs has been a solemnisation of the Empire in the last year. It has been good for us that we have known the reverses and anxieties which ennoble the ultimate victory. We have felt the hand of God laid upon us. You who have come home, and we who bid you so glad a welcome, shall spend the residue of our lives with an enhanced moral seriousness, with a more profound apprehension of the Providence which regulates and determines human ends.
Brethren, I shall not detain you longer in this holy place. Only let your home-coming be worthy of your warfare. There are dangers in peace as well as in war. Let the spirit, then, of your future lives be grave, responsible, temperate, sublime, as befits your religion and your race.
May the God of our fathers bless you all, and bring you all to Heaven!
The ‘Englishman’ of Monday, January 7, 1901, gave the following report of another interesting scene:
Immediately after the Thanksgiving Service held at the Cathedral on Thursday, the officers and men of our pioneer corps celebrated the closing function of their active military career. It took its form in a dinner given expressly by Colonel Lumsden, and the guests included Sir Patrick Playfair, the Hon. Mr. Buckingham, Colonel MacLaughlin, Mr. Harry Stuart, and several friends of the non-commissioned officers and men. After an excellent dinner supplied by Mr. Wallace, of the Italian Restaurant, who also catered for the corps prior to their departure in February last, the toast of the Queen was proposed and received with enthusiasm.
Private Turner, in a very apt little speech, then asked the Colonel if he would very kindly consent to present, on behalf of the men, to Sergeant-Major Hewitt, Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, and Sergeant-Major Brennan, souvenirs to mark their appreciation of the admirable work done by these three non-commissioned officers. They always had the knack of taking the men the proper way. To Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, alias ‘Daddy,’ or ‘Bobby’ Dale, was due the excellent form in which the men found themselves. They looked none the worse for their trying marches and watchful nights simply because the man in charge of the food arrangements was Dale. Colonel Lumsden said he had much pleasure in presenting, on behalf of the men, a silver flask to Sergeant-Major Hewitt, a silver flask to Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, and a silver cigar-case to Sergeant-Major Brennan.
The Colonel then proposed the health of the Executive Committee, who, he said, had worked so indefatigably when the corps was being organised. Their labours did not end there, however, for always while the corps was in South Africa, and still on its return, they were all concerned in its well-being and interests. It was a pleasure to him and to his men to have been the recipients of so hearty a welcome as that which met them on their arrival at Howrah on the evening of the 2nd inst. The work which the raising of a force such as Lumsden’s Horse entails is extensive, complicated, and laborious, but thanks to the able committee formed on the inception of the corps, they were able to be equipped and despatched to the country they had just returned from with comparatively no delay. To Sir Patrick Playfair particularly he was deeply indebted for his energy in seeing things put through in such an efficient manner and without a hitch, and he was proud of now having an opportunity of asking his men to drink the health of the gentlemen of the Executive Committee, with three times three cheers for Sir Patrick Playfair.
Sir Patrick Playfair, in reply, said that he was sorry another very important public function required the presence of many of the Executive Committee who otherwise would have been present at this dinner, Colonel Lumsden, he thought, was too lavish in his praises of the work done by the Executive Committee. The work was a labour of love, in the execution of which every member of that Committee took a pleasure and a pride. He had met and known Colonel Lumsden very many years before a certain day in November 1899, when he received from Australia a cable from Colonel Lumsden intimating his willingness to raise and have equipped a suitable corps capable of giving a good account of themselves in South Africa. He had the fullest confidence in Colonel Lumsden, and knew that the class of men to whom Colonel Lumsden had particular recourse were the right sort. He, therefore, did his utmost to encourage Colonel Lumsden in accomplishing his noble object. Great obstacles for a time blocked the way, but in time, by virtue of the personal influence of His Excellency the Viceroy, the War Office sanctioned the raising of a corps which has now returned loaded with honours, complimented time after time by Generals and in official despatches for gallantry in the field. The Committee always followed with interest the operations of the corps in South Africa, and it was a pride and an honour to them to be in a position to say that they were so closely connected with its formation. He regretted that a few men should have found their appointments closed against them on their return, but he assured them that the Executive Committee, and particularly himself, would only be too glad to help any man in finding suitable employment. He said he had already made reference to the cases of men so placed to the Lieutenant-Governor, and had asked that, all things else being equal, the men who had served in Lumsden’s Horse should have the preference when appointments were vacant. Sir Patrick Playfair then thanked Colonel Lumsden, the officers, and men of the corps for the hearty way in which they had drunk the health of the Committee.
Sergeant Fraser then, in a very humorous speech, announced to the Colonel the intention of the men to present him with a sword of honour as a memento and a token of their respect and esteem. Within the last few days they had heard the Governor of Bombay, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and the Viceroy himself, express warm admiration of Colonel Lumsden for the manner in which he had conceived, organised, and led the corps. But he ventured to consider that the men of Lumsden’s Horse were even in a better position than these exalted gentlemen to express an opinion upon Colonel Lumsden, for they had been with him in South Africa and seen with their own eyes what he had done. It was in consequence of what they had seen that they now asked Colonel Lumsden to accept from the men who had been his comrades a sword of honour as the highest compliment they knew how to pay him. He would remind them that Colonel Lumsden, during the action at Ospruit, had ridden out to the rescue of a wounded trooper, placed him on his own horse, and led the horse back at a walk a distance of 200 yards, all under heavy fire. Colonel Lumsden had never asked his men to go where he did not lead himself, and it will be within the recollection of all of them, after climbing kopjes representing Kinchingjunga at six stone, that they invariably found the Colonel on top busy with his binoculars, whilst they themselves were helpless from loss of breath. His concern had always been for his men without regard to his own convenience, and it was because Colonel Lumsden had proved himself both gallant and unselfish, that they desired to present him with the sword. If they had a fault to find with Colonel Lumsden, it was that he was too lenient with misdemeanants. They had frequently seen men marched before him and sternly interrogated regarding their sins. But the end of such interviews was generally a private conversation regarding old times in Assam, or elsewhere, and no punishment. The result was that the men swore by their Colonel, even those he had been compelled to send to ‘cells’—there was one of these, half rear, at the present moment loudly applauding all he was saying. Colonel Lumsden was not only their commanding officer, but a personal friend to each man, a combination which had led to the maintenance of an extraordinary degree of discipline. They were all proud of the corps they had the honour to belong to, but they were prouder, if possible, of the officer whose name the corps bore. The only fault they ever found with Colonel Lumsden was that he was too lenient with the men, and in the goodness of his heart refrained from meting out punishment where it was perhaps well deserved. However, it is not every delinquent who would regard that as a fault. The men regretted that time had not given them an opportunity of providing the sword for presentation that night, but it would come in the fulness of time. The Colonel’s health was then drunk with musical honours, the men shouting themselves hoarse.
Colonel Lumsden, in reply, said that this was truly and in every sense the proudest moment of his life. He had already had the pleasure of making a few speeches since the corps was raised, but he found it a difficult thing to hit on words to express at all adequately his appreciation of the eulogistic terms in which Sergeant Fraser, on behalf of his comrades, had referred to him. He always had the greatest confidence in his men and relied on their honour rather than on strict and rigid discipline for the execution of his orders. He knew his men thoroughly, and saw that they were prepared to play the game as it should be played, and he felt proud, as any officer must, of the men he commanded. The sword of honour proposed to be presented to him would be his most treasured possession—he would always be proud to refer to it and the happy associations it recalled. The past twelve months had been the happiest in his whole career, and nigh forty-eight summers had passed over his head. Turning to Sir Patrick Playfair’s remark, he said that he, too, would do his utmost to have the men without billets provided for. He was a believer in the great future in store for South Africa, and wished every success to those of the corps who had remained behind. He also said that Captain Petley had very kindly placed the ‘Koladyne’ at the disposal of those who had no friends to stay with in Calcutta, and that they only had to signify to Captain Petley, who had taken a deep interest in the corps, their wish to avail themselves of this kind offer. He would now say good-bye and God-speed with every good wish for their future welfare, requesting that, before breaking up camp, every man should promise to send his photo.
The men were visibly touched by Colonel Lumsden’s speech, and, after cheering him over and over again, chaired him and all the officers, and Sergeant-Major Stephens, at great risk to those chaired.
The Sword of Honour, exquisitely wrought by Messrs. Hamilton & Co., of Calcutta, and presented to Colonel Lumsden with such gratifying evidences of good-will from those whom he had commanded, was of silver with ring-mountings of gold, and bore upon its scabbard the following inscription:
SOUTH AFRICA, 1900.
ORANGE FREE STATE.
PRESENTED TO LIEUTENANT-COLONEL D.M. LUMSDEN, C.B., BY THE N.C.O.S AND MEN OF LUMSDEN’S HORSE
AS A TOKEN OF THEIR PERSONAL REGARD, AND AS A MARK OF THEIR APPRECIATION OF HIS HIGH QUALITIES AS A COMMANDING OFFICER.
Trooper Betts has since been awarded the D.C.M. for accompanying the Colonel on this occasion—to carry in Franks, who was mortally wounded.