Special Service Officers in 73-74

For all discussions relating to the Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Ashantee Wars fought between 1863 and 1900.

Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby DavidB » 08 May 2008 20:34

There were several British officers in the 73-74 campaign who were on special service, detached from their parent regiments.
Used to train and lead companies of African troops, or act as envoys to native rulers, or to organise a commissariat to operate on the jungle roads, or to reconnoitre the country etc etc, their campaigns were never dull.

A few examples, excerpts taken from Hart's Army Lists:

Captain A.H.A Gordon, 84th Regt
Landed at the Gold Coast on 6th July 1873. Was made Commandant of Houssas and Adjutant of Armed Police. Organized scouting parties, patrols and reconnaissances to discover the positions of the enemy. Made the first rough map of the neighbourhood. Selected the positions and constructed the important redoubts of Napoleon and Abbaye covering Cape Coast and Elmina respectively. Commenced the Cape Coast-Coomassie road, and had made it practicable for artillery as far as Dunquah by Sir Garnet Wolseley’s arrival. Was now placed on the list of special service officers and commanded the guard of the working party at the head of the road till the middle of October, when he was placed in command of the Houssas. Commanded the Houssas at the repulse of the Ashantee army at Abrakrampa during 5th & 6th Nov and in the reconnaissance of 8th Nov. Commanded the Houssa company of Russell’s Regt at the capture and destruction of Adubiassie, battle of Amoaful, capture and destruction of Becquah, and advanced guard engagement at Jarbinbah (slightly wounded), the skirmishes and ambuscades between Adwabin and the River Ordah, the battle of Ordahsu and capture of Coomassie. Was promoted Captain in the 84th on 10th Dec 1873 from Lieutenant & Adjutant 98th Regt “in recognition of his valuable services with the Houssas and other forces under his orders whilst operating against the Ashantis”. (several times MID, Brevet of Major, Medal with clasp).

Lieutenant E. Gifford, 24th Regt
Lord Gifford accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley to the Gold Coast in Sept 1873 on special service. Trained the Winnebah Company of Russell’s Regt and commanded it during the repulse of the Ashantee Army at Abrakrampa on 5th and 6th Nov 1873. did the duties of Adjutant of Russell’s Regt from Attoh-Insu to the Prah. Commanded the Scouting Party from the Prah to Coomassie. Led the attack on Adubiassie and at the battle of Amoaful; carried with his scouts the enemy’s advanced post at Egginassie by a rush; led the attack on Becquah (slightly wounded); took part in the advanced guard skirmished and ambuscade affairs between Adwabin and the River Ordah, battle of Ordahsu and capture of Coomassie. Served as ADC to Sir Garnet Wolseley from the capture of Coomassie to the end of the campaign (several times MID, promoted to an unattached company, VC, Medal with clasp): awarded the VC for his “gallant conduct during the operations in the Ashantee War, and especially at the taking of Becquah. The officer commanding the Expeditionary Force reports that Lord Gifford was in charge of the scouts after the army crossed the Prah, and that it is no exaggeration to say that since the Adansi hills were passed he daily carried his life in his hand in the performance of his most dangerous duties. He hung upon the rear of the enemy, discovering their position and ferreting out their intentions. With no other white man with him, he captured numerous prisoners; but Sir Garnet Wolseley brings him forward for this mark of Royal favour most especially for his conduct in the taking of Becquah, into which place he penetrated with his scouts, before the troops carried it, when his gallantry and conduct were most conspicuous.”

Brevet-Major A.A.Godwin, 103rd Regt

Major Godwin accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley to the Gold Coast in September 1873 on special service, and served in the first phase of the Ashantee War. He was appointed Special Commissioner to the King of Annamaboe, raised the Annamaboe Contingent and commanded it at the action of 27th October, near Dunquah, where he was severely wounded (Mentioned in Despatches, Brevet of Major, Medal).
Wolseley later described the aftermath of this action: ‘Five officers were wounded, one of whom, Captain Godwin, of the Royal Dublins, was hit in the groin. A very good officer, always to the fore, he was a severe loss at the moment. I saw him the next day, when he declared that his wound was nothing, and that he was certain to be well in a few days. He would walk about to make others believe he was all right. Yet my doctor told me I need not count upon his assistance again in the campaign. It is of such stuff that heroes are made.’
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby Isandlwana » 17 Nov 2008 00:57

Here's a photograph of Lt. Edric Frederick, Lord Gifford in his Asante War kit.

Image

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with brave men's blood for England's sake and duty...
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby Waggoner » 04 Feb 2010 02:50

I recently read that a Lieut. Bromhead, 24th Foot, was a Special Service Officer during the campaign. Is he the same one of Rorke's Drift fame?

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby DavidB » 04 Feb 2010 12:17

I recently read that a Lieut. Bromhead, 24th Foot, was a Special Service Officer during the campaign. Is he the same one of Rorke's Drift fame?


Hi Gary,
The Bromhead's were very much an army family. The one who served in Ashantee as a Special Service Officer was Charles Bromhead, elder brother of Gonville of Rorke's Drift fame. There were also 2 other brothers I believe but I can't recall their names or details. I'll see what I can drag up about Charles.
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby Waggoner » 04 Feb 2010 13:36

Thank you. I would appreciate that, but don't put too much effort into it as my main interest was the possible link with Rorke's Drift.

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby DavidB » 04 Feb 2010 19:26

Charles did apparently also serve in the Zulu War, Gary.

Bromhead, Charles James – Captain, 24th Regt
Accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley to the Gold Coast in Sept 1873 on special service, and served throughout the Ashantee War of 1873-74. Was sent as Special Commissioner first to the king of Eastern Assin and then to the King of Abra. Was Staff Officer to Colonel Festing at the action of 27th Oct near Dunquah. Commanded the Abras at the repulse of the Ashantee army at Abrakrampa during 5th & 6th Nov 1873. Commanded the reconnaissance in force on the 8th Nov. Afterwards served with Russell’s Regt at the capture and destruction of Adubiassie, battle of Amoaful, capture and destruction of Becquah, Advanced Guard engagement at Jarbinbah, skirmishes and ambuscades between Adwabin and the River Ordah, battle of Ordahsu and capture of Coomassie (MID, Brevet of Major, Medal with clasp). Served in the Zulu War of 1879 (Medal with clasp). Brother of Lieut Gonville Bromhead VC.
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Re: Special Service Officers in 73-74

Postby Waggoner » 04 Feb 2010 19:41

Excellent! Thank you!

All the best,

Gary
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