L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1885

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L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1885

Postby BereniceUK » 13 May 2014 16:16

In St Nicholas' Church, Newport, Shropshire.

"In affectionate memory of Lance Corporal Robert J Houghton of the Black Watch who died in the Soudan on the 4th March 1885 Aged 21 from wounds received whilst bravely fighting with his Regiment at the battle of Kibbekan. This Tablet was erected by his former Schoolfellows as a tribute of their esteem for one who while at Newport School was distinguished as an Athlete as well as a noble minded honorable boy and genial Companion"

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Re: L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1

Postby Mark A. Reid » 13 May 2014 17:39

Hello BereniceUK;

Thanks so much for posting this most interesting picture. It must be somewhat unusual for a church plaque of this period to commemorate a non-commissioned type. L/Corpl. Houghton was obviously held in high esteem by his peers.

As the Battle of Kirbekan occurred on 10 February Houghton must have lingered in hospital for nearly a month before succumbing to his wounds, and perhaps other ailments connected to a reduced immune system.

Thanks again.

Mark
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Re: L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1

Postby BereniceUK » 13 May 2014 17:51

Presumably it would have been a field hospital he was cared for in?
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Re: L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1

Postby Mark A. Reid » 13 May 2014 18:53

Hello again;

I would have thought so too but upon checking the Official History ( pp. 286-287 ) was surprised to read that after the action at Kirbekan;

The wounded at this action ( Kirbekan ) were carried on day by day in boats, sometimes they were landed and placed in tents, more frequently they remained in the boats, even during halts.

It goes on to reiterate that the wounded were provided with every available delicacy, such as preserved milk, rice, oatmeal, jam, tea, arrowroot biscuits, sugar, lime juice, etc. In addition, this would mean that the sick & wounded could have been visited by their comrades, as opposed to dying amongst strangers in a faraway hospital.

On the day that L/Corpl. Houghton died, 4 March 1885, the River Column was navigating the Kab el-Abd Cataract and the Official History notes that A badly-wounded private of the Royal Highlanders also died while passing through the cataract.[i][/i] It should be noted that Lance Corporal was not an actual rank but merely an appointment and this man was almost certainly Houghton. I presume that he was buried beside the Nile and, again, the burial party was probably provided by his comrades, perhaps with a Piper to play a lament for a young man far from home?

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Re: L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1

Postby BereniceUK » 13 May 2014 19:04

That's amazing, putting a name to a casualty almost 130 years later! Thank you so much for posting that.
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Re: L/Corporal R.J. Houghton, fatally wounded at Kibbekan, 1

Postby jf42 » 13 May 2014 21:20

Berenice's post with the memorial to L. Cpl. R.J.Houghton of the Black Watch, who died of wounds received at Kirkbekan, reminded me that I mean to post this excerpt from the Scotsman newspaper archive dated 11th March 1884.

Headed 'THE BLACK WATCH AT TRINKITAT [From A Correspondent In The Black Watch] H.M.S Orontes, Off Trinkitat. 21st February 1884', the correspondent describes 1 BW, having left their 'comfortable barracks on the banks of the Nile,' entraining early on the 15th February 'en route for the Eastern Soudan.' There follows this passage:

Visit to BW graves Tel el Kebir Feb 1884.png
Visit to BW graves Tel el Kebir Feb 1884.png (292.31 KiB) Viewed 515 times


A touching anecdote, showing how just potent regimental emblems can be, as well as the traditions behind them (however ill- founded). Having just attended a Black Watch commemoration at Nonnebosch just outside Ypres, where the monument being unveiled was hedged in with blue bonnets and red hackles, I can vouch for this personally.

This report is particularly telling, occurring as it did so soon after the 1881 Childers re-organisation when concern for continuity of regimental custom and traditions was regularly aired in the press. Frequently the traditions cited were garbled or misquoted and, not infrequently, based on legend rather than fact, but in each case it was the loyalty inspired that was the the key element.

More relevant to the campaign in hand, a little farther on the correspondent adds: "The little time we had between the receipt of the order and the date of embarkation- about forty hours- was not too short for the authorities of the regiment to have us in complete readiness. Before leaving we got new grey serges- hardly so soldierlike [SIC] as scarlet, but every whit as comfortable- more so, if anything, in such a hot climate, for it is very much warmer here than in Cairo and during the day it is uncomfortably hot."
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