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This is the earliest known photograph of Jimmy, described in The Bugle' of 27 October 1899, as
'taken with the Sergts [Sergeants], at Kasr-el Nil Barracks, Cairo' in 1886. Although 'The Bugle' describes him as a 'little dot of 3', he was, in fact, less than two years old. He is shown in a khaki drill uniform, with sergeant's stripes and red sash and the Egypt Medal and Khedive's Star. The Bugle proudly relates how
'even at the early age of 3 [Jimmy] has quite a martial air.'
Unfortunately, the full photograph has not survived; only the section which shows Jimmy. The Bugle describes it as showing 53 sergeants, with
'Our little Soudan Trophy... squatted between Sergeant Major Francies' legs, and...supported on the right hand by Colour Sergeant Smith of F. Company and on the left by the late Colour Sergeant of E Coy.'
On the same page, there is mention that a photograph of
'Bugler Durham' had recently been sent out to
'several old friends', including Sergeant Major Francies, all of whom
'notice a great change in "Jimmy" since they were serving with us'. This photograph must have been taken around the time of his enlistment into the Regiment in July 1899.
See a transcript of The Bugle, 27 October 1899, p.3045.
Immediately behind him is Sergeant Stuart, who is touching his head in an apparently affectionate manner, though it may have been to keep him still for the photograph.
This photograph (above, left) of The Band of the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry was taken in India, at Poona, in March 1897. Jimmy would have been about 12 years old at the time and had not yet enlisted into the Army.
In this photograph (above, middle), Jimmy is pictured with H Company of the 2nd Battalion in Mandalay, Burma, on 18 November 1899. He was about 14 years old and had recently enlisted into the Army. The large trophy in the centre of the men is the Best Shooting Companies Shield.
In another photograph (left) taken at the Corunna Barracks, Aldershot, in 1904, Jimmy is pictured with the rest of the Band.
Billy was given as a prize, by the officers, for sports on board ship, and was destined for their Christmas dinner. However, E Company, on winning the sheep, decided to keep him as a pet, assigned him the number 9999 and called him 'Robert Canning'.
He travelled to Aldershot with them in 1902, where he was free to roam where he pleased in the barracks.
A bandsman colleague of Jimmy's, Charles Henry Chester, recalls that Jimmy usually led the sheep on parade at Aldershot. A newspaper cutting [D/DLI 2/2/32], however, claims that the sheep marched by himself out in front of the troops on parade. 'Robert Canning' died on 6 January 1905 after eating the Christmas decorations.
Jimmy is wearing his best (full dress) uniform of red tunic (jacket) with dark green facings (collar and cuffs) and brass buttons. His trousers are dark blue, with a thin red stripe down the outside of each leg, and with a white leather waist belt with brass clasp. His boots are black leather.
On his tunic, you can see red and white striped bandsman's wings on each shoulder; his bandsman's badge on his right arm; two long service stripes above his left cuff; and two DLI bugle badges on his collar. His cap on the chair has a leather peak and DLI badge, and he is carrying a walking-out cane. Standing Orders for 2DLI in 1907 state that
'A soldier is never to appear outside the barracks on any excuse without being properly dressed ... He must be clean and well shaved, and carry a cane of the regimental pattern'. These canes made the soldiers look smart and stopped them from putting their hands in their pockets!
Jimmy came to Newcastle with the 2nd Battalion Band in July 1908, and made contact with his 'sister' Stella Robson, daughter of Colour Sergeant, later Major, Robson who helped to bring him up as a boy. He looks very smart in his civilian clothes, asking Stella
'What do you think of the masta, does he look all right'? He is planning to visit her and 'their' father, remarking,
'Roll on the 29th'.
A parade was held to mark the occasion, by the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry and the 2nd Sherwood Foresters. The band can be seen in the centre of the square; no doubt Jimmy was among them.
This is a photograph of Jimmy's funeral in Fermoy, Ireland, in August 1910 after he died of pneumonia. He was buried with full military honours in the local cemetery.
The inscription on his grave read 'In loving memory of Bandsman James Francis Durham, 2nd Bn., the Durham Light Infantry who died on August 8, 1910. Erected by the Officers, NCOs and men of the Battalion. Jimmy Durham was adopted by the Battalion after the Battle of Ginnis 1885 and specially enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry, May 23, 1899'.
Unfortunately, in 1984, it became known to the Regimental Trustees that Jimmy's grave had been vandalised. The people of Fermoy, however, carried out its restoration, without charge.