The 67th and the assault on the Taku Forts, China. August 21, 1860

On March 28 1860 the Chinese rejected an ultimatum from the British and French to allow safe passage through their ports as agreed in a trade treaty signed in 1958 which (amongst other things) would have allowed the British to continue the opium trade in China, so the order was given for an attack.

The 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment who had been called in as reinforcements for the assault on the Taku Forts from behind, to avoid a defeat as had been seen the previous year, were sorted in to the second division and were under Brigadier General Reeves and with the French in support. They landed at Peh-Tang that was just a few miles up the coast.

After wading through miles of mud to reach the village that was near the Forts, on August 21 the second division was bought forward to attack the Forts. Several obstacles now faced them, mass ditches full of mud and water needed to be crossed and staked pieces of timber jutted out at the bottom of a 30 foot wall protecting the Forts.

The division waded through the marshes and when they reached the wall they broke down the stakes, however the enemy threw heavy fire and thwarted attempts that were made to overcome the wall.

Lt Burslem and Private Lane of the 67th created an opening in the wall and though they were thrust back and wounded, they managed to get through along with Ensign Chaplin who was carrying the Queen’s Colour. As more men made their way through the opening they were able to scramble up to the parapet. Ensign Chaplin who had already been wounded three times made his way forward, with the 67th crowding around him. The fighting was hard but the enemy was finding escape difficult and finally the resistance was over.

The 67th then moved towards the lower forts but as they did white flags began to emerge. It seemed that the taking of the upper fort had been enough. The Queen’s Colour was planted on the breached fort. By the end of the day the casualty figures for 67th were 6 killed and 63 wounded; Burslem, Chaplin, Lennon and Lane were all awarded the Victoria Cross.