2nd Bn
Volunteer Battalions
India, Egypt, 2nd Sudan War,
circa 1891

"7081 Private Nuttall J 28th M.I Lancashire Fusiliers

He served with the XX at the battle of Omdurman ,then later at Spion Kop in the Boer War and ended his service being wounded in action during WW1"

Dad wanted his photo taken by his friend, however his horse (Robert) kept nibbling at his pocket, where he usually had food for him. So, unfortuneately he took the photo, while his friend held the horse, At the pyramids, Dad is the one in the middle. led by a boy. Joan
Sent in by his daughter Joan Hanlon December 2011.


3rd (Volunteer) Bn LF Conway 1893

The Battle of Omdurman-Sudan 1898



In 1898 Kitchener led a force of 8,200 British troops, 17,600 Sudanese and Egyptians up the Nile to capture a city in the Sudan called Omdurman, the Dervish capital across the river from Khartoum. The army camp formed an arc with it's back to the Nile river, in which there were several armed gunboats anchored. Macdonald's brigade was posted in the center of the arc.

It was feared the Dervishes would launch a night attack on the camp from the surrounding hills, so the troops slept with their rifles. In the morning the men in the camp could see the Dervishes advancing, the 1st battle began with a charge from the Dervish army. With the British army pounding the oncoming force with howitzers and machine guns, the attack was short lived and after the battle 2,000 Dervishes lay dead in front of the British lines.

Kitchener assuming the battle was over ordered the troops to advance on Omdurman. Hector Macdonald's brigade was in reserve about a mile or two north of the main body of Kitchener's force, Macdonald commanded a force of 3,000 Sudanese and Egyptians and most unlikely would not be used. Later a Camel Corps' officer arrived at Macdonald's line and informed Macdonald that a sizable force of about 20,000 Dervishes was advancing towards Macdonald's line.

Macdonald's 3,000 troops were all that stood between the main force and the oncoming Dervishes. Kitchener was unaware of the danger and had his troops marching in columns with their rear flank to the attacking Dervishes, and ordered Macdonald to break camp and join the rest of the army. Macdonald had gotten the order from Kitchener, Macdonald replied: "I no do it. I'll see them damned first. We maun just fight!" Macdonald called his commanders to order and quickly mapped out in the sand a plan of defense. Macdonald wheeled his troops into a half circle and had the task of meeting the attacking Dervishes from two directions. If Macdonald's line was to fail, it could result in the destruction of the army. Dervishes attacked in wave after wave, the attack was so heavy that one of the lines of Macdonald's Sudanese battalions broke, and had to resort to hand to hand fighting.

"The valiant blacks prepared themselves with delight to meet the shock, notwithstanding the overwhelming numbers of the enemy"- Winston Churchill

Meanwhile Kitchener was now aware of the grave danger the army was in and ran about desperately shouting orders and trying to reverse his army, and put them back into fighting formations. Macdonald's brigade met the attacking Dervishes with heavy fire, Macdonald kept his troops well organized and disciplined, he continually maneuvered the lines to meet the ongoing threat of the attacking Dervishes.
"Amid the roar of the firing and the dust, smoke and confusion of the charge of front, the general [Macdonald] found time to summon the officers of IX Sudanese around him, rebuked them for having wheeled into line in anticipation of his order, and requested them to drill more steadily in brigade." -Winston Churchill

Before long other regiments began to arrive and backup Macdonald's lines, the firing upon the Dervishes was so intense that they began to retreat, fleeing into the desert. At the battles end 10,000 Dervishes lay dead, 16,000 wounded, and 5,000 prisoners. The battle was over the British army saved, the army lost 48 men and 382 wounded. At the end of the day, when the ammunition from Macdonald's brigades was counted, there were two rounds per man. The British army won the battle and avenged the death of General Gordon of Khartoum. Macdonald was the hero of the day and truly saved the British army.

"The charging Devishes succeeded everywhere in coming to within a hundred or two hundred yards of the troops, and the rear brigade of Sudanese, attacked from two directions, was only saved from destruction by the skill and firmness of its commander, General Hector Macdonald."

Winston S.Churchill

"Macdonald had handled his troops with masterly skill, and had snatched victory from the jaws of peril."

Lord Kitchener

Story based on sources:

Death Before Dishonour 1982
Toll of The Brave 1963
Hector Macdonald: His Rise Through The Ranks And His Contributions
To The British Empire 1980
My Early Life: W.S.Churchill 1930

The lead up to and the Battle of Omdurman
The Sudan.

On the 22nd August 1898, the 2nd Bn The XX Lancashire Fusiliers had spent the night at Wad Hamed, having arrived there at 06oo hrs on the 21st August, travelling up the river on the gunboat " Fatteh", which had two barges and two gyasses lashed alongside.

It had been an uncomfortable journey, 660 men standing 3 deep with no room to sit or lie.

At stand to on the 22nd, each man had a full kit, and each man carried a second haversack in which was a drinking tin,a muslin strainer,a greatcoat,helmet curtains and a pad to protect the back from the sun.


Reveille sounded at 0345 on the 23rd August and so began the epic action which would result at the battles end in 10,000 Dervishes dead, 16,000 wounded, and 5,000 prisoners.

On the 23rd, reveille sounded at 0345 hrs and an hour later the whole force paraded and were inspected by the Sirdar, Major General Sir H Kitchener KCB.

(See the link below for an Egyptian written explanation of the Sirdaria )
It was agreed by all who saw it to be a fine spectacle.
This is what was meant by "The whole Force "
Click here for the link

21st Lancers.
32nd Field Battery, Royal Artillery.
37th Howitzer Battery, Royal Artillery.
2 40-prs., Royal Artillery.

Infantry Division,
1st Brigade.
1st Battalion Warwickshire Regiment.
1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders.
6 Maxims.
Detachment, Royal Engineers.

2nd Brigade.
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.
2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade.
4 Maxims.
Detachment, Royal Engineers.

9 Squadrons, Cavalry.
1 Battery, Horse Artillery.
4 Field batteries.
10 Maxims.
8 Companies Camel Corps.

1st Brigade.
2nd Egyptian Battalion.
9th, 10th, and 11th Sudanese Battalions.

2nd Brigade.
8th Egyptian Battalion.
12th, 13th, and 14th Sudanese Battalions.

3rd Brigade.
3rd, 4th, 7th, and 15th Egyptian Battalions.

4th Brigade.
1st, 5th, 17th, and 18th Egyptian Battalions.

Camel Transport.

Imagine that lot, fully kitted out for war and lined up for inspection !

They then changed " quarter right" and in the execution of this simple movement the number of contradictory orders that emanated from the British Infantry were a cause of astonishment to the whole Division.

The day was spent following orders and counter orders which was described as being a"source of great irritation "to the Infantry, which they forcibly denounced in well known expletives.

Readers will I am sure recognise this this kind of situation ! ?

This day and the next were spent in formation drills and exercises ,using ball ammunition, and in testing communications.

The 2nd Bn of the XX had taken 2,500 gallons of reserve water with them, they would need every drop.

24th August The XX Lancashire Fusiliers spent this day bivouacced in scrub land, still some 40 miles away from Omdurman.
A rehearsal of an attack using a 2 mile front was carried out in the afternoon.

You may recall some of this period from the 1939 film "The 4 Feathers" (only the 1939 version uses actual historically accurate events leading up to Omdurman and was filmed in the general area of Omdurman)
Click here to see the 4 Feathers

The 25th August was spent in marching a little closer to where intelligence reports believed the Dervishes to be gathering.

At 0530 hrs the Division set off in a 3 column formation, The 2nd Bn XX on the left, the Grenadier Guards on the right and the Northumberland Fusiliers in the centre.

The enemy were reported to be approximately 40,000 strong.
I bet this piece of information concentrated the minds of the LFs somewhat !

After marching for four and a half hours a halt was called and everyone bivvied up in the scrub.

26th August In an effort to save the men from the punishing ordeal of marching with full kit and ammunition in the heat of the day,it was decided that the marching to be done on the 26th August would not begin until 1600 hrs.

( I bet the cheer could have been heard in England !)

The Division marched in 3 columns as before until 1830 hrs and then, amidst much confusion,the Division formed a square and bivvied down.

At the last moment it was discovered that there was no wood available locally, consequently there were no fires and no tea or food could be made.

(I bet the resulting groan could have been heard in England )

The column was now just 6 miles from Gebel Royan, only 46 miles to Omdurman.

On the 27th August 1898, the men of the 2nd Bn The XX Lancashire Fusiliers made a short march of some 6 miles to Gebel Royan, they then spent the day making zaribas ( thorn barriers ) and shelters on the camping ground.
At 1655, the Brigade marched to their new allocated position which was at Wady Abud, a mere 3 and a half hours march away, reaching there at 2030 hrs.

Just as they were all getting settled in, there was an alarm.

An Arab came charging through the lines shouting "Allah, Allah ".
Captain Wolley-Dod of the XX ordered the men to hold their fire as he believed that the main body of enemy would not be far behind.

As it happened, the nutter was on his own, and having thrown his spear and having found his way into the history books he scarpered unhurt !
The 28th August and 29th August 1898 were spent in camp,cleaning and preparing weapons, rehearsing tactics etc.
On the 30th August the whole force decamped and marched from 0530 until 1100 hrs, covering 13 miles ( remember in full kit and rationed water )
At this time , further misery befell them as Dysentery made it's appearance, no doubt due to the water problems.
On August 31st reveille was at 0430 and at 0600 they began marching towards the enemy again.
2 hours later, they halted at a place called Kerriri (look it up ) by which time it was estimated that they were within 10 miles of the 45,000 strong enemy.
After a pause of an hour ,the march was resumed until they reached their camp site which had been marked out for them.
When they rose from their bivvies on September 1st, it was persistantly pouring down, and the force marched to a position South and West of the village of Kerriri, with their backs to the river and they bivvied down on a 6 Company frontage

The 2nd September 1898 was a Friday.

At 0400 hrs, the Division was stood to, Lyttelton's Brigade was on the left of the Infantry position, with it's left thrown back to protect that flank.
They had the Nile at their backs.
The Brigade was formed as follows:-
2nd Rifle Brigade on the left, then 2LF, then 1RNF and 1 Warwicks on the right.

The Brigade had 6 companies in the front line and 2 companies in reserve.
And so they waited......
At 0630 hrs,the first sighting of the enemy was made, a vast mass of Dervishes moving opposite the British centre.
A vast multitude ,rushing onwards like a sea that nothing could stop, came the Dervish mass.
At 0650 hrs the Artillery opened fire, along with the gunboats.
At 0720, with the huge mass getting ever closer, 2LF were moved to the right of the 1st Brigade to strengthen the Camerons.
A Battery of guns was also placed here on the left,and the Rifle Brigade was also added to this flank.
On the enemy came, with loud angry shouts, and bullets began to arrive amongst our troops.
The concentrated fire of the whole front then engaged the enemy and when the smoke cleared it was clear that the enemy had suffered appalling casualties.
They stopped, and surged backwards.
When the the cease fire sounded, only a few thousand of them were left firing from a depression in front of 2 LF.
At 0900 hrs, the whole of our force moved to the left in echelon of Brigades to try and get between Omdurman and the remaining mass of enemy.
During this move the enemy attacked ,hurling thousands of men in 2 masses against McDonalds Brigade.
By some very skilled Infantry tactics, McDonald repulsed these attacks and by 1230 hrs the battle was all but over.

There were some amazing statistics.

The British lost just 50 men killed and approx 500 wounded.

2LF had none dead, and just 6 men wounded.

10, 000 enemy lay dead on the field.

Modern arms and superb tactics in the hands of highly trained soldiers had proved to be too much for the overpowering numbers of the Dervishes, who's only hope would have been at close quarters.
The British Infantry fire power and marksmanship ensured that they were never to get close enough to let their numbers count.

2LF, along with the Brigade, then marched to Omdurman town, formed a line on an extensive parade ground found just to the West of the town.

They sank to the ground exhausted and slept regardless of the gruesome surroundings.

The moon shone brightly that night on the field of the dead and by dawn, the men were only too pleased to move away from the stench of thousands of dead men and animals to a more favourable location.

Gordon had been avenged.

2LF were to move to Alexandria by boat, then to Crete, where they arrived on October 11th 1898.

Now THAT is what I call soldiering!

4847 Pte Thomas McNay.

Thomas McNay and Bridget Gibson. They were married in St. Patrick's Catholic
Church in Wigan on Jan. 30, 1904. He was 26 and she was 19. He had
returned to being a coal miner and she was a cotton weaver. The
photo was taken in Wigan between their marriage and their immigration to
Anaconda, Montana, in 1908.

A really important set of documents sent to me by his grandson John McNay
from the USA concerning Number 4847 Pte Thomas McNay.
He was an 18 year old coal miner from Wigan and serving in the 3rd
Lancashire Fusiliers Militia when he enlisted into the 2nd Bn at Bury on the 13th June 1894.
He went to the Sudan and then to South Africa and fought at Spion Kop.
Just 5 feet five and a half and weighing 116 pounds (8 Stones and 4 Pounds) he was a typical Lancashire Bantam who would later prove to be such first class soldiers.
A glance at his disciplinary record shows that he was also typical of the LFs as he spent some time in detention for striking a superior Officer whilst serving with the 1st Battalion
Following his 6 months imprisonment
he elected to volunteer for active service with the 2nd Bn in the Sudan

Thomas's Service Record

Click on any of the above to see enlarged

"Thanks to Jacqui Turner,who sent Joe this fascinating history of her Great Grandfather
Henry Gething
Lancashire Fusilier

1892 - 1915"

Henry Gething was a local Fusilier (St Helens, Lancashire) who took the ‘King’s Shilling’ and enlisted on 5th July 1892 in Bury. He was then 19 years old. He was soon posted to barracks at Poona in India on 26th November 1892 where he remained until 1897 when he was transferred to Quetta.

On 10th January 1898 the battalion sailed from India to Egypt to see action in the First Boer War in Sudan. He was awarded the ‘Queen’s Sudan Medal’ and ‘Khedive’s Sudan Medal’ for service at Khartoum. In 1898/1899 the battalion moved to Crete and Malta where Henry remained in hospital. He saw out the end of this initial 7 years service in Malta before he was posted to Section B Army Reserve.

He was not home for long though and was recalled for service in South Africa on 13th November 1899 before eventually sailing to join the 2nd battalion on 14th February 1900. The 2nd battalion were part of the 11th Brigade in Sir Charles Warren’s 5th Division. For his part in the Second Boer War Henry was awarded the ‘Queen’s South Africa Medal’ with clasps for ‘Cape Colony’, ‘Orange Free State’, ‘Transvaal’ and ‘Laing’s Nek’; he also received the ‘King’s South Africa Medal’ with ‘1901’ and ‘1902’ clasps. On 4th July 1904 his service was over and he once again agreed to be transferred to Reserves this time Section D where he served until 10th August 1908.

Eventually Henry returned to St Helens, adjusted to civilian life, married and had 5 daughters!

However on 26th August 1914, 3 weeks after the British Government had declared war on Germany, Henry once again volunteered for Service and joined the South Lancashire Regiment, 2nd battalion where he was made Lance Corporal. Having seen so much previous active service and at the ripe old age of 40 Henry was ill equipped to endure the first bitter, wet, miserable winter of the flooded trenches of Armentieres. He was invalided home with frost bitten feet and chronic head pain in February 1915. He was detained in hospital for 5 weeks but was never again able to stand straight or walk for any period of time. A medical board ruled that his condition had been caused by “over exertion and exposure on active service” and he was discharged on 12th May 1915 with a small pension. He was however awarded the WWI trio of medals ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ plus an honourable discharge badge.

Henry died on 20th September 1920 with the delayed result of gas inhaled in the trenches and is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in St Helens, Lancashire.

We are extremely proud of Henry and his service and commitment to his country. We are also, like he was, very proud that he made a conscious decision to become a Lancashire Fusilier.


RSM E. Sharpe
Enlisted Bury 1893
discharged in 1917

Medal Card

RSM Sharpe's Service Records some are hard to read but they are over 100 years old

HMS Malabar

Medals and awards known to have been won during this campaign by the 2nd Battalion
" Info from theCatalogue of medals from Dr A W Stott's collection,sold in London 1997 at DNW Auction house."

Click here for the link to Dr Stott