The New South Wales Sudan Contingent

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1885 to 1885
Location: Sudanmap
Surnames/tags: australian_army Australia_Project
Profile manager: Kenneth Evans private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 1,232 times.

this page expands on a section of the Australian Army page

NSW Contingent to Soudan Campaign montage



In prompt response to the fall of Khartoum, Soudan (now spelled Sudan), and death (murder) of Major General Charles 'Gordon Pasha' Gordon in January 1885, the British government despatched an expeditionary force in March under Lieutenant General Sir Gerald Graham to the Red Sea coastal port of Suakin. They were joined by smaller military contingents from India, Egypt, Canada, and the Colony of New South Wales (Australia was not yet a federation). Although successful in the two actions it fought, the military force failed to change the military situation and was withdrawn in May-June; resulting in the Soudan passing completely into the control of the Mahdists. This marked the first occasion in which Australian troops fought in an imperial war (the New Zealand Wars had been fought by British troops stationed in the Australian colonies).

Soudan marked the first occasion in which Australian troops
fought in an imperial war

the Expedition

The New South Wales (NSW) contingent, comprising a battalion of infantry, an artillery battery, and a medical detachment totalling 758 all ranks (an infantry battalion of 578 enlisted men and 16 officers, an artillery battery of 118 enlisted men and 6 officers, an ambulance corps of 27 enlisted men and three surgeons, staff of four enlisted men and six officers, and 225 horses), was ably led by the commander New South Wales Military Force, Colonel (later Major General] John Soame Richardson. They were accompanied by journalist, William John Lambie; who is thus the first Australian war correspondent. Amid much public fanfare, generated in part by the holiday declared to farewell the troops, the expedition sailed from Circular Quay, Sydney on 3rd March 1885 aboard SS Iberia and the Australasian; disembarking at Suakin, Sudan's Red Sea port, on 29th March.

The troops carried Martini-Henry rifles whilst the artillery battery was equipped with six 9-pounder RML guns (which were delivered to the gunners upon arrival at Suakin direct from the Royal Gun Factory, England). The guns were, correctly, Ordnance rifled-muzzle-loading (RML) 9-pounder (pr) 6-hundredweight (cwt) Marks I and II. [1]

Upon arrival at Suakin the New South Welshmen were attached to a brigade under Major General Arthur Fremantle composed of Scots, Grenadiers and Coldstream Guards and marched on Tamai on 2nd April. It was during this advance and march, on 3rd April, about 38 kilometres from Suakin, that the NSW infantry had the first of their skirmishes.[2]

After Tamai, the greater part of the NSW infantry worked on the railway line which was being laid across the desert towards the inland town of Berber on the Nile, half-way between Suakin and Khartoum. Far from the excitement they had imagined, the young Australians suffered mostly from the enforced idleness of guard duties. When a 500-strong camel corps was raised mid-April, fifty men volunteered immediately, forming the third of five companies with fifty British volunteers, under Lieutenant Sparrow. On 6th May, having received intelligence that a Dervish force was being assembled, they rode on a reconnaissance to Takdul, 28 kilometres from Suakin in the Abent Valley. Other forces marched from Suakin to other access points. The Aussie cameleers were reported to have contributed to the missions' success admirably, engaging snipers with fine shooting. For the loss of three British soldiers, some 100 enemy were killed and ten taken prisoner.[2]

The artillery saw even less action than the infantry; being posted to Handoub where, having no enemy close enough to engage, they drilled for a month.

The NSW contingent sailed for home on 17th May aboard the SS Arab, making port at Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) enroute.

Khedive's Star
Egypt Medal with Suakin Clasp

Arrival home

The troopship Arab, conveying the New South Wales contingent, entered Sydney Heads at about II o'clock at night 19th June, and was immediately placed in quarantine due to the infectious diseases from which some soldiers had died. Fifty men of the NSW Permanent Force had filled mattresses with straw pending the ship's arrival and arrangements had been made by headquarters for the supply of sufficient groceries, bread and meat. Some residents of Manly Beach contributed to a fund to provide as much fish as could be obtained.[3] Once quarantine was cleared (there was one more death to typhoid) Australia's first returned servicemen were feted for their commitment and diligence.

Five days after their arrival in Sydney the contingent, dressed in their khaki uniforms, marched through the city to a reception at Victoria Barracks where they stood in pouring rain as a number of public figures, including the Governor, Lord Loftus, the Premier, Alexander Stuart, and the commandant of the contingent, Colonel Richardson, gave speeches.[4] Then there was a citizens' banquet in the Exhibition Building and a Sudan Medal presentation ceremony on the Agricultural Society's grounds at Moore Park. At the last mentioned ceremony the governor appropriately stated, "Soldiers of the contingent, I have had the honour, as the representative of her Most Gracious Majesty, to present to each of you the medal which you have won by your service to your Queen and country. No honour which our Sovereign can bestow upon a subject is greater than that which expresses at the same time the gratitude of the nation and the heroism of the recipient. In whatever paths of life you, who today are decorated with this distinction, may hereafter walk, however high or humble your station or employment, you will be always entitled to the reverence and sympathy of every man who respects courage, loves his country, and honours his Queen."[3]

Returned Service Medal, Soudan 1885


A Corporal, two Privates and a war correspondent were wounded during the expedition. They each recovered. There were, however, nine deaths from illnesses such as typhoid and dysentery during and following the expedition:

  1. 392 Private Robert Weir (1 May, aboard the hospital ship Ganges at Suakin)
  2. 719 Gunner Edward Lewis (12 May, Suakin)
  3. 43 Private Philip Jackson (after 19 May, Suakin)
  4. 1226 Gunner James Charles Robertson (31 May, Colombo, Ceylon)
  5. 1214 Gunner Timothy Lancelot Coburn (3 June, Colombo, Ceylon)
  6. Captain Anthony Willows (9 June, at sea)
  7. 150 Private John Douglas Collister (10 June, Colombo, Ceylon)
  8. 74 Private Richard Perry (23 June, Quarantine Station, Manly NSW)
  9. 183 Martin Guest (27 June, Sydney NSW).
Mayor of Sydney Sudan Medal reverse
Mayor of Sydney Sudan Medal obverse

Members of the contingent


Officers — staff[5]

Colonel (promoted Major General upon return) John S Richardson CB, brigade commander; appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath, Mentioned in Despatches
Lieutenant Colonel William Beaver Blayney Christie, brigade major (oversaw operations, intelligence, administration and quartermaster functions) and second-in-command
Temporary Major Henry Douglas Mackenzie, adjutant of brigade (assisted the commanding officer with personnel administration) and staff officer for artillery
Staff Surgeon William Williams, surgeon major
Captain Julien Thomas Blanchard, ordnance storekeeper, commissariat officer and paymaster
Chaplain Charles F P Collingridge, Roman Catholic chaplain
Surgeon Usher Glanville Doyle Glanville, commissioned as surgeon with relative rank (was also an illustrator)
Captain Thomas Samuel Parrott, engineers officer, promoted Brevet Major upon return
Surgeon George Proudfoot, commissioned as surgeon with relative rank
Chaplain Herbert J Rose, Anglican chaplain
Surgeon John James Steel, commissioned as surgeon with relative rank
William John Lambie, accompanied the contingent as war correspondent

Officers — NSW Artillery

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Warner Wright Spalding, commander artillery and second-in-command; appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, and Mentioned in Despatches
Major George John Airey, artillery battery commander; Mentioned in Despatches
Captain Anthony Willows, commissioned as veterinary surgeon with relative rank; died of illness during expedition
Lieutenant Henry Parke Airey, artillery battery; promoted Captain upon return
Lieutenant Charles William Pleydell Bouverie, artillery battery; promoted Captain upon return
Lieutenant Robert Allwood Nathan, artillery battery; Mentioned in Despatches

Officers — NSW Infantry

Lieutenant Colonel Alfred William Paul, second-in-command
Lieutenant Colonel Frederick S Wells, Mentioned in Despatches
Captain Charles Falkner Bartlett
Lieutenant Charles Bourne Airey

Major Charles George Norris, company commander A Company; Mentioned in Despatches
Lieutenant Morris Marian Boam, A Company
Lieutenant Robert Haylock Owen, A Company

Captain Wesley Powell Mulholland, company commander B Company
Lieutenant John Rowland MacDonald, B Company
Lieutenant Maurice James Keating, B Company

Major John Jekyll, company commander C Company
Lieutenant Charles Redmond McKenzie Burnside, C Company
Lieutenant Robert Frank Wrench, C Company

Captain Leslie Herbert Kyngdon, company commander D Company
Lieutenant Herbert Christie Pritchard, D Company
Lieutenant Henry Glendower Bodychan Sparrow, D Company; Camel Corps
NSW Sudan contingent departure

Senior Non-commissioned Officers

Senior NCOs — NSW Artillery

Warrant Officer Henry Green, artillery quartermaster
Sergeant Major William Hammond Coleman, battery sergeant major
Quartermaster Sergeant William McMillan, artillery battery
722 Sergeant William Colston, artillery battery
153 Sergeant John Cronin, artillery battery
417 Sergeant John Crabtree, artillery battery
Farrier Sergeant Hanlon, artillery battery
Sergeant Kolynenx, artillery battery
624 Sergeant Thomas Lynch (groom), artillery battery
794 Sergeant Thomas Walters (blacksmith), artillery battery

Senior NCOs — NSW Infantry

Sergeant Major Michael Tuite, A Company
Quartermaster Sergeant Thomas Henry Rouse, A Company
Colour Sergeant James Burns, C Company
Colour Sergeant Frederick Pontifex Liggins, A Company
Sergeant Robert Ashworth, A Company
Sergeant Alexander James Brady, C Company
Sergeant William Bruce, B Company
Sergeant Arthur Ormonde Butler, A Company
Sergeant George Frederick Davies, D Company
Armourer Sergeant Graham, A Company
Sergeant James Joseph Meenan, D Company
Sergeant Charles Edward Stuart Murray, B Company
Sergeant William Richards, D Company
Sergeant G F (or G T) Sadler, A Company
Sergeant T R Scholey, D Company
Sergeant Schulstaadt, B Company
Sergeant E Searle (aka Serles), D Company
Sergeant John Joseph Shying, C Company
Sergeant James Spence, B Company
Band Sergeant Thompson, A Company
108 Sergeant James Wilson, C Company

Senior NCOs — NSW Ambulance

Warrant Officer Henry Beecroft Copeland, ambulance corps clerk
Sergeant Alex Shaw, ambulance corps
Tom Gunning 'Soudan' plaque

Other ranks

Headquarters — Brigade clerk Smith, Commissariat clerk H Brooke, Pay clerk J Wilson, William Cope

A CompanyCorporal Alfred Bennett, Corporal Coates, Corporal Shaw, Corporal Smith, Corporal Watt, Bugle Major John Best (aka John Alexander Clarke), Orderly Room clerk Ellis, Master Tailor Wholohan, Bugler Wright, Bugler Berkeley, Privates T T Adey, S Adams, L Bevan, G M Berry, A C Bennett, J Brennan, J M Butler, J Burnett, D M Baird, J J S Berry, J Beattie, F Buckley, James Brown, W Cox, M J Cannon, G Cressy, J Chalmers, G Casserley, J Cambridge, F Cates, G C Compton, T T Coughlan, . Conybeare, J Coffey, R Dunn, E Durnz, M Dean, F Douglas, 410 William Douse, W Edwards, L C Gronan, W R Grant, H Grierson, R Hunter, P Hallett, N H Hagarty, N Hennessy, J T Hough, D James, H Johnson, M Kilkelly, Frederick Kennedy, J W Killibev, B Kooda, G Lamont, T Lavery, J S Lovelock, T J McKenna, Thomas McKee, W J Murray, W G Mark, F Mendall, C J O'Brien, J Oram, Oates, S Ormsby, P O'Sullivan, E Pearce, J Patterson, E H Porter, C H Pearce, A Robinson, B Ttahim, L G Boach, J J Batch, H Staunton, J Syme, James Henry Smith, Frank Smith, A Tait, R Thompson, J Tyler, G C Tuckey, B Tucker, E J Taylor, D C Tipping, B C Todd, J Wallace, J Ward, T E Ward, E Webb, E West, A Westcott, E H Wilson, J Withey.

B Company — Lance Sergeant Batten, Lance Sergeant William Charles Shipway, Corporal Bieakwolat, Corporal Glenham, Corporal M'Nair, Corporal William Owen, Bugler Ker, Privates B Arnold, R Addison, J Boyce, J Barnett, Henry Breakell, F Blanchard, C E Blake, F H C Brownlow, H G Bayliss, J A Begbie, F Buchanan, C Chapman, E T Cane, T A Chalk, J Cosgrove, J Campbell, M Cunniff, E S Depass, Arthur E Davies, J Davis, John Diamond, W Dobie, H Drew, F M Foreter, Robert Fisher, John J L-Traser, R D Ferguson, A C Grant, T Grayhurst, F Gaites, S Gould, F Glynn, E C Hedges, H S Hendy, Win. Henly, E W Herane, P J Howard, G Harrison, J Healy, H C Hamilton, S J Ingram, E C James, Henry Kelliher, E Lloyd, C Lemaire, C H Ludlam, William Lynn, C I Mackenzie, T D M'Pherson, Herbert J McCarthy, Edward Magee, Louis Marks, T Miller, A Munro, E Mitchell, J Maddison, Walter Martin, A Morrill, J A Moutray, C H Mitchell, P Murphv, H Morton, William Nichol, J N Norman, E Neville, H H Onslow, A C Oiley, D O'Connell, J Patterson, L Parkinson, A Pickering, B Rhodes, T Roberts, F W Roberts, W Seymour, F Shawellhood, W Shepherd, J F Solely, George Smith, J R Thornton, R C Thorpe, D E Todd, W Thwaite, P W Upton, G M Vance, W J Williams, A C Wiseheart, W C West.

C Company — Lance Sergeant Reddie, Corporal Burns, Corporal Douglas, Corporal M'Pherson, Corporal Sullivan, Bugler Pegg, Bugler Mulready, Privates D W Allone, R Bowmaker, J Bird, W Burt, G Boulton, G Bundy, G Barnard, G Bigwood, G Brown, A Barrett, F W Buhner, B Cooke, E Compton, R Carfoot, A Canae, M Collins, D M Chisholm, J Ellis, R Easther, J Enright, J Fox, S Flynn, F Gav, G R Ferguson, S Gower, J Greenwood, T Gladman, D Hadfield, R W Holt, J M Hogan, E W Harrington, A F Hamilton, JF Herliny, W Jones, C Japes, E Jeffrey, J Johnston, J St J Lee, W Lober, H Mitchell, M J Morris, William Arnold Mathews, F Moore, Charles James Major, J Mitchell, T Mulready, James Robinson McGregor, Peter McKenzie, C S Miller, W M'Master, J G Nelson, S Nelson, W Newland, W Nichols, J Neillings, E Page, A Porter, T Purcell, E Ryan, E Ritter, J Roberts, J Reilly, P Ritchie, R Reid, S W Raynor, T Smith, G Spilsbury, J J Sharp, Sydney Smith, W S Simmonds, John Henry Smith, G Sattler, J Davidson Smith, W H Sealey, H Seymour, W Stanard, W Stephens, D Stevens, A F D Turner, G Teasdale, S J Thornton, G Torlfi, 107 Frank Walters, W T Watson, P L Wedd, A Weirick, F Wright, B F Whalen, J R Wright, A Wright, W Wright.

D Company — Corporal Bell, Corporal Cotton, Corporal Stornton, Bugler Ernest Edward Green, Bugler Leece, Privates W J Arnold, G Anderson, J Allen, Win. Albert Brown, S Bates, C J Bearer, W J Borrows, R Borrows, E J Barrett, J Carrick, J Colledge, F Craddock, Collins, W W Croft, D Gather, J Clarke, J Coghlan, T Greswick, J Clerk, T Clark, A Clay, J D Collister, H B Campbell, C E Downey, J Day, T Daly, B Thunrortih, W Edwards, J P Eppell, J Finn, R Faulkner, Thomas Gunning, W Hamilton, J Hookey, G B Hol, T Heavey, G Hinton, E Hollana, A Howlett, W Johnson, William Knott, C Key, W J Kerr, J Kelly, W Lander, A Larsen, A J Lippiatt, P Malony, W Magglestone, M P Mortison, P M'Bride, T Morgan, A Murray, J Martin, T McCarthy, J O'Brien, F Pennell, S C Parker, J Pickering, W Pitt, C B Poole, W Page, W Phelan, T Precston, B Paine, W H Presdee, E Perry, H Pedrotta, G N Runcie, J Reidy, J Semple, S Stevens, W Sinnotte, J Strugnell, J Stevens, J Smedley, J I K Stevenson, T Simpson, F W Sheering, W J Thompson, R Toy, P Tattler, J Treanor, J Thornton, C J Thorpe, F Twining, A Tythedeigh, F Tosser, J Tindin jr, A Walker, H Weir, 302 Richard White (bootmaker).

Field Battery — Bombardier Gallagher, Corporal Gilder, Bombardier Groves, Corporal Hare, 814 (Acting) John Dunn Kennedy (groom), Corporal Le Beau, Corporal Woodbridge, Shoeing-smith Bevan; Gunners A Blake, F Barlow, C Brougham, G Clifford, J Copeland, J Cooney, Driver Thomas Fulton Coleman, J Crombie, W Corn, H G Crowley, W Cotter, W J Clunes, C Curtin, D Cameron, W Clampett, 1130 Patrick Cronin, J Clarke, D Crichton, W Cunningham, J Cochrane, L Davis, J Davidson, W Denmark, J Dillon, G Easter, H Evans, J Fauld, C Frost, F Flood, J Flanagan, G Forrest, T Farrell, C Godding, C H Griffith, P Good, P Hannafin, W Harper, G Harris, W Hartnett, T Haslem, J Hibbert, J Holland, G Hooley, M Hughes, J Hoare, G Jobson, T Judge, C Kirkpatrick, J Kohne, J Kyme, Laimr, R Laing, J Leary, T Lilly, G M McAleer, J C McBride, George McCrae, R McDonald, D M'Gnimn, G McLeod, J M'Namara, W Marston, E Mason, T Masterson, H Mayall, E Miller, J Molyneux, H Morrison, J Mowbray, J Muffins, James Murphy, John Murphy, J Oakden, W O'Brien, J O'Keefe, G L Owen, C O'Reilly, C Phillips, E Reiger, G Ranchle, J Rush, H Redding, F Rowe, T Ranaome, J Seabrook, C Shannon, E Smith, M Smyth, J Sngrne, J Taylor, G Taylor, J Thomas, J R Waldron, J Wallace, J Warner, J Watt, H Webb, W Whalen, J Whitten, J Witte, M Yale.

Ambulance Corps — 6 Corporal William Runnegar, 34 Corporal Robert White, 7 Dispenser Robert Lisle Kennedy, 8 Dispenser Hugh St George, Lance Corporal Clarke, Lance Corporal Shrimpton, Privates F G Aitken, Ernest Edward Buckleton, J Bullen, W H Jones, G Lamb, G Learoyd, E C Lloyd, F Long, C Merriott, W M'Derritt, R McDonald, W Pritchard, R Rowe, W Smart, W Trail, G Trendle, Charles Francis R Wearne, D S Wright, R Threlfall.

QMS Thomas Rouse and a 'Sudan' Gun


  1. Gower, Stephen N. 'Guns of the Regiment'. Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1981, page 144-5; accessed 5 Apr 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 Coulthard-Clark, Chris. The Encyclopaedia of Australia’s Battles. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 3rd ed 2001. ISBN 1-86508-634-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 NSW State Archives; accessed 22 Oct 2019
  4. Pittwateronlinenews: Sudan Contingent
  5. List of Officers of the New South Wales Contingent; accessed 25 Oct 2019

Further reading

  • Inglis, K I. The Rehearsal: Australians in the Sudan, 1885. Kevin Weldon and Associates, Sydney NSW, 1985.
  • Stanley, Peter (ed.). But Little Glory: the New South Wales Contingent to the Sudan, 1885. Military Historical Society of Australia, Canberra ACT, 1985.
  • Sutton, Ralph Sutton. Soldiers of the Queen: War in the Soudan. New South Wales Military Historical Society and the Royal New South Wales Regiment, Sydney NSW, 1985.

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
Comments: 2

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
See also Michael Tyquin, "Sudan 1885", Australian Army Campaign Series, Canberra, 2014.
posted by Michael Tyquin
See also Michael Tyquin, "Sudan 1885", Australian Army Campaign Series, Canberra, 2014.
posted by Michael Tyquin