The 67th in Burma, 1872-1875

The 67th had been home for six years when, in September 1872, it received orders to move to Burma. Eight companies under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Jebb embarked the troopship HMS Malabar at Portsmouth, while two remained at Shorncliffe as a depot. On the voyage out, which took less than two months, one company (H) was dropped off at the Andaman Islands for duty at the convict settlement.

After a year in Rangoon the regiment (headquarters and three companies) moved up the Irrawaddy river in January 1874 to Thayetmyo, the most northerly British station. H Company joined them there the following month. The other four companies, under Major Charles Knowles, had previously moved to Tongkoo, on the Sittang river, in November and December 1873.

Life in Burma proved less unhealthy than expected, though the Paymaster Captain Potter, and a dozen men (including two at the Andamans) died in 1873. Another dozen died in 1874 but in three years the regiment lost fewer than 40 men.
The officers spent much of their free time shooting and exploring the country while the men occupied themselves with cricket and athletics as well as learning trades in the workshops. Musketry training also received considerable attention and a good proportion of the soldiers qualified as ‘marksmen’.

The regiment’s three years in Burma were relatively incident-free, although at one stage a war against the king of Burma did appear imminent. In December 1874 the regiment lost its veteran Colonel, Lieutenant General Francis Davies. He was replaced by Lieutenant General Harvey Raymond.

Early in 1875 a reinforcement from headquarters for the wing at Tongkoo made the journey overland, covering 140 miles through rough and little-known country in a fortnight, far less than a journey by river would have taken. The transport was provided by elephants.

For most of the regiment, the stint in Burma came to an end in December 1875 when orders were received to transfer to Madras. However, two companies remained behind to to provide part of the escort for a mission to be sent through the Kachin Hills to meet another from Yunnan. These missions were investigating the murder of an Englishman who had been trying to open up a trade route between Burma and Yunnan. The British suspected the Chinese authorities were behind the killing.

Colonel Jebb himself commanded the escort which left Thayetmyo in late April 1875 for Bhamo. From here it marched to the foot of the Kachin Hills where a depot was established at Tsit-kaw. The 40-mile march across the hills, which reached 5,000ft, severely tested the men’s fitness. Thirty British troops, and as many sepoys, had to be left at intermediate camps before the expedition reached its destination at Mauwyne four days later. Here it remained while the mission conducted its business. The expedition then returned to Thayetmyo and from there it rejoined headquarters in Madras in late June 1875.

Colonel Jebb and his party received special thanks from the Indian government for its part in the escort. The men, it was noted, had shown great alacrity, energy and zeal.

Further information – see Our Chronicle for 1872-75 in the Royal Hampshire Regimental Museum archives.