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

Transcript of The Bugle, 14 June 1894, p.49

Please remember that all transcripts show what is written on the page; spelling and grammatical mistakes are not corrected.


"...James Francies Durham

I imagine that most of our readers are well acquainted with the subject of this article, although there are very few who know the story of his life; and how it is that fate has caused this small warrior from Central Africa to cast in his lot with an English Regiment which his affectionate progenitors would have been only too pleased to remove from this vale of grief and woe. Jimmy is now quite an old soldier with nearly nine years service, and moreover has been on active service. The story of his life is most romantic and will I am sure be of interest to all good Durhams. On the 31st. December 1885 after the action at Giness, in which the Dervishes were driven back up the Nile, a force of 100 Mounted Infantry under Major Smith Dorrien and including the Durham Division under Lt. DeLisle, our present Adjutant, were sent to pursue the retreating enemy with special orders to capture if possible the enemy's nuggers or Nile barges, which were reported to be making their way southwards, laden with arms, ammunition, stores etc.

After a march of 35 miles, which was carried out with every precaution, Smith Dorrien arrived at Kohehmatto, a village situated at the bend of the river near absarat about sunset. On arrival, the sheikh of the village was summoned and after a little gentle persuasion, confessed that a large nugger, heavily laden was about 6 miles up stream.

A party of 12 men, all volunteers under De Lisle whose untiring energy and valour during the whole Campaign eventually won for him the Distinguished Service Order, obtained permission to follow on in pursuit; and in spite of the severity of the days march, they pushed on at a smart pace in order to come up before night set in. After about half an hours ride, the nugger was sighted, being towed up by a couple of donkeys and a swarm of Dervishes who for the nonce were working in silence. DeLisle dismounted his party and leaving 3 men to hold the horses, crept on with the remainder as silently and rapidly as possible; they were not discovered until they were about three or four hundred yards off.

It was then so dark that the foresight of the rifle could with difficulty be seen, and after a couple of volleys the party charged home. The Dervishes no doubt bearing in mind the events of the previous day, did not remain to try conclusions; but vanished under cover of the darkness into the desert, leaving the nuggar as a prize. So sudden had been the attack, that they left a small child standing on the bank and a wounded man on board the nugger, which was full of arms, stores and banners. As the mounted infantry ran up, the child perfectly undaunted held up its arms to DeLisle to take him up, which he did, and then handed him over to Sergeant. Stuart who was afterwards a Cr. Sergt. in the Regt."