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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Egypt and Sudan, 1885 - 1886

The Digest of Services of the The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry [D/DLI 2/2/14], records that on 15 February 1885, the Battalion embarked from Gibraltar for Egypt, 'to strengthen the Army of occupation there', following the fall of Khartoum to the Dervishes and the death of General Charles George Gordon. Lieutenant Colonel E.R. Coker was in command.

Map of Sudan, c.1884, courtesy of The National Archives [WO 78/5465] - Copyright © Durham County Record Office
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The soldiers arrived in Alexandria a week later, then went to Cairo, where they were to live in the Citadel [a fort].

On 29 September 1885, they moved from the Citadel into tents to undertake a six-week course of military training and musketry, but were 'most suddenly and unexpectedly placed under orders to proceed up Nile to Assouan [Aswan] to strengthen the Frontier Field Force, owing to the threatening aspect of affairs at the Front.'

They arrived at Aswan on 20 November, before moving on to Wadi Halfa, the southernmost frontier post of Egypt on the Nile, and then to Akasheh in December.

Plan of Kosheh defences, 1886, courtesy of The National Archives [WO 78/164] - Copyright © Durham County Record Office.
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Immediately after the end of the battle, the Battalion formed part of the pursuing force that moved south as far as Kozak, and was detailed to hold the extreme frontier post of Kosheh, where the men camped for nearly three months.

In April 1886, 2DLI returned to Aswan via Akasheh, then on 24 June received orders to proceed to India. During the Battalion's stay in Egypt, according to the 'Record of Services of the Durham Light Infantry' [D/DLI 2/2/135], one officer (Captain Barker), two colour sergeants, four sergeants, two corporals, two lance corporals, one bugler and 44 privates were lost from wounds or disease. A tablet to their memory was placed in Durham Cathedral.

Later, when they were stationed in India, the Khedive's Star was presented to the officers and men of the Battalion who had served in the Egyptian campaign.