A rare ‘Nile Circus’ Egypt and Sudan Medal 1882-1889, undated reverse, 2 Clasps: The Nile 1884-85, Abu Klea, awarded to Trooper William Trown, 2nd Life Guards, formerly Grenadier Guards, who saw service out in Egypt from September 1884, and was on...

£1,975.00
Availability: IN STOCK
Product ID: CMA/30686
Condition: very slight edge contact, otherwise Nearly Extremely Fine
Description:

A rare ‘Nile Circus’ Egypt and Sudan Medal 1882-1889, undated reverse, 2 Clasps: The Nile 1884-85, Abu Klea, awarded to Trooper William Trown, 2nd Life Guards, formerly Grenadier Guards, who saw service out in Egypt from September 1884, and was on active service in the Sudan during the Nile Expedition in the attempt to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum, being confirmed as present in action at the Battle of Abu Klea on 17th January 1885 when he formed part of the Heavy Regiment of the Camel Corps. In all 38 men of the 2nd Life Guards formed a part of the Heavy Regiment and were present at Abu Klea. An officer described the corps as ‘London society on camels’. The corps fired the imagination of late Victorian England and officers, many of them peers, unable to serve in the campaign with their regiments, volunteered for the Camel Corps. While the troops were meant to be the best available, some regiments sent their throw-outs. The commanding officer of the 2nd Life Guards assigned the regiment’s drunks to the Camel Corps, on the basis that they would be unlikely to find alcohol in the desert. Trown may well have fallen into that category. The Camel Corps caused enormous interest and comment in Britain. It was referred to as the ‘Nile Circus’. Lord Wolseley fuelled the mirth by ordering a thousand white umbrellas to keep the desert sun off the corps. Trown subsequently contracted enteric fever and died from it at Korli Camp in what is now South Darfur on 8th March 1885.

Egypt and Sudan Medal 1882-1889, undated reverse, 2 Clasps: The Nile 1884-85, Abu Klea; (1172. TPR. W. TROWN. 2ND. LIFE GDS.)

Condition: very slight edge contact, otherwise Nearly Extremely Fine.

William Trown was born in Cartlon, near Nottingham, Nottinghamshire in 1861, and having worked as a footman, then attested for service with the British Army at London on 12th May 1880. Having originally joined as a Guardsman (No.7320) the Grenadier Guards, he then transferred as a Trooper (No.1172) into the 2nd Life Guards on 31st March 1882.

As such with the ongoing troubles in the Sudan, Trown found himself posted out to Egypt in September 1884. As such Trown saw service in the Sudan during the Nile Expedition in the attempt to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum, being confirmed as present in action at the Battle of Abu Klea on 17th January 1885 when he formed part of the Heavy Regiment of the Camel Corps. In all 38 men of the 2nd Life Guards formed a part of the Heavy Regiment and were present at Abu Klea.

Twenty-two British regiments provided the personnel (1,789 officers and men) for the four regiments of the Camel Corps. An officer described the corps as ‘London society on camels’. The corps fired the imagination of late Victorian England and officers, many of them peers, unable to serve in the campaign with their regiments, volunteered for the Camel Corps. While the troops were meant to be the best available, some regiments sent their throw-outs. The commanding officer of the 2nd Life Guards assigned the regiment’s drunks to the Camel Corps, on the basis that they would be unlikely to find alcohol in the desert.

The Camel Corps caused enormous interest and comment in Britain. It was referred to as the ‘Nile Circus’. Lord Wolseley fuelled the mirth by ordering a thousand white umbrellas to keep the desert sun off the corps. The regimental march selected for the corps was the Scottish air ‘The Campbells are coming’. This was transposed to ‘The Camels are coming’.

The battle of Abu Klea was one of several fought by the British Desert Column against Mahdist forces (the Mahdists were Sudanese fanatics loyal to Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, a self-proclaimed Islamic messianic figure who took advantage of widespread resentment amongst the Sudanese population towards the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers, and capitalized on the messianic beliefs popular among the various Sudanese religious sects of the time).


The overall goal of the British forces was to push through the Mahdists to Khartoum and relieve General Charles Gordon, under siege there by Mahdist forces, with time swiftly running out to save their embattled comrades at Khartoum. Having spent the night before the battle taking continual fire from Mahdist snipers, when the British forces began advancing into the wadi of Abu Klea at first light, they came under attack from a Mahdist force concealed in the ravine that had been waiting to ambush them.


Despite being heavily outnumbered (approximately 1,100 British troops to supposedly 12,000 Mahdist warriors), in a bloody exchange that lasted little more than fifteen minutes, the British forces were able to push the Mahdists back. Unfortunately, despite having technically won the battle and inflicting serious casualties on the enemy (British losses were 76 dead, 82 wounded, in contrast to Mahdist casualties numbering at least 1100), Abu Klea was a phyrric victory, given that the overall British goal to reach Khartoum and relieve General Gordon failed (the city had fallen and Gordon killed two days before the British Desert Column arrived). The failure to save Gordon caused a major public backlash that effectively ended the political career of Prime Minister William Gladstone (most in British society, including Queen Victoria, blamed Gladstone for the delay in sending a rescue mission), as well as forcing a British retreat from Sudan that would leave the country under the control of the Mahdists for 13 years.


Among the losses suffered at Abu Klea was one of particular significance to the Household Cavalry: Lieutenant Fredrick Burnaby of the Blues, killed by a Mahdist spear through the throat while trying to rescue an injured comrade. This bombastic and swashbuckling soldier, a hero in the hearts and minds of the Victorian public, had rejoined his old regiment voluntarily to accompany them to Sudan, the War Office having denied him an official posting. When word of his death on the battlefield spread amongst the soldiers, the commanding officer of one detachment recorded that many of his men sat down and wept at the death of such a beloved figure.


Having for his part survived Abu Klea, Trown however then contract enteric fever and died from it at Korli Camp in what is now South Darfur on 8th March 1885. Confirmed as his full entitlement.

10/28/20 - 01:08:59