James Morgan was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland in 1854. By 1878 the family had moved slightly south to Liverpool where his
mother, Mary, was living at 348 Borough Road, Birkinhead and his sister, Anne, at Rock Lane, Rock Ferry, Birkinhead.
James enlists for the 9th (The Queen’s Royal) Lancers at Liverpool at 10 am on the 4th of April 1878, his recruiter being Sergeant
James Fitzgibbon. At the time of his enlistment Morgan was aged 24 and a boiler maker by trade, no doubt employed in the
flourishing ship building trade on the Mersey. Morgan is given an initial medical examination by Surgeon Major Samuel Archer who
describes him as 5ft 7.5 inches tall, chest measurement of 37.5 inches, dark complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair and heavily tattooed
(necklace & cross pendant, both arms, forearms & hands & left leg), his religion was Presbyterian. Morgan is found fit for service.
The following day at 10.50 am, James goes before the local magistrate (W.M. Mann) where he gives his oath of allegiance, the final
approval being given medically by Archer and the approving Field Officer (Lt. Colonel Charles M. Govan R.A., commander of the 13th
& 14th Brigade Depot). James Morgan is then put on a train to Canterbury along with another recruit, James Elkington (later
numbered 1922) and they arrive at the Cavalry Depot (India Establishment) at Canterbury on the 6th of April 1878. Private Morgan
is given the regimental number 1925 and is reimbursed for travelling expenses of £1 and 9 shillings (including £1 1 shilling and a
penny for train fare from Liverpool).
On arrival at the Cavalry Depot the newest Private of the 9th Lancers would have begun a process of training in preparation to join
the service companies of the 9th Lancers who were at that time in Sialkot, India. Morgan is re-vaccinated on the 17th of April by
Stephen Henry Dickerson who is the Surgeon Major of the Depot, Dickerson is also responsible during his first admission to the
depot hospital on the 8th of August 1878 for boils, a problem that keeps James ‘on the sick’ for 24 days.
Eventually the Depot have built up enough recruits to sent the men to India, as such on the 16th of December 1878 a draft of 6
officers, 239 men and 5 wives from the various cavalry regiments serving in India leave Canterbury and entrain to Portsmouth. Once
embarked at Portsmouth the draft would proceed through the Suez canal and a month later landed at Bombay on the 16th of
January 1879. By this time the 9th Lancers had been detailed to form part of the expedition against the Afghans through the Kyber
Pass and had reached Nowshera in November of 1878, there they handed in pistols and were equipped with the new Martini-Henry
carbines. On December the 20th (4 days after Morgan left England) the 9th had moved up to Tarvoo, nine miles from Peshawar,
where they were allocated to the cavalry brigade of Gen. Sir F.F. Maude’s 2nd Division of the Peshawar Valley Field Force.
Morgan, in a party of 49 men under Troop Sergeant Major J. Roughan, joins the 9th Lancers at this location. On the 12th of March
the Lancers move to Jamrud via Peshawar and on through the Kyber Pass to Basawal where it was employed in line-of-
communication duties until the signing of the Treaty of Gandamak on the 2nd of June 1879 which ended the initial phase of the
second Afghan war. A single squadron the 9th Lancers were detached to the Kurram Valley Field Force and over the next few
months they were heavily engaged in actions in and around Kabul when the treaty collapsed in the brutal murder of Major Cavagnari
on the 3rd of September 1879. In this period of 3 months between phases of the war Morgan had spent 20 days at the base
hospital, Peshawar, from the 7th to the 20th of June 1879 with fever and was at Sialkot on the 22nd of that month along with the
majority of the 9th Lancers.
The main body of the Lancers were at Sialkot in late June 1879 and moved on to Doke Pelu by the end of September. In October the
main body of the 9th Lancers (2 squadrons and the H.Q.) leave Northern India and finally merge with the detached squadron at
Sherpur on the outskirts of Kabul on the 3rd of November 1879 where General Roberts has decided that the Lancers should be
quartered over the coming winter. From this point we shall turn to the regimental history ‘The Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers 1715-
1936’ by Major E.W. Sheppard, Aldershot, 1939. The history relies heavily on diaries of various members of the Lancers:-
The next few weeks were spent in preparing to face a hard winter in cantonments. Foraging parties scoured the country round for
supplies for man and horse; stores and furniture were carried in from the Bala Hissar ; and the regiment set to work to build huts
and stables. Its camp was in "an awful cold place, being in the shade of the high hills, where the sun can only get to us a few hours
in the day " (Crane), and it must have been with relief that, on November 30th, the men moved into the long, narrow mud buildings
of Sherpur barracks—" the first time we had been in any kind of covered building for thirteen months." Meanwhile the officers were
passing the days gaily by means of gymkhanas, polo and paper-chases, and a good number had sent down to India for their skates.
Very early on the following morning, in pursuance of orders received the night before, " C " Troop, to which Private Crane belonged,
formed up outslde Yakub Khan's tent in the bitter cold. It was to escort the Amir who had recently notified the Indian Government of
his abdication of throne out of his kingdom into exile. " There was a party sent in advance with loaded carbines ; a party each side at
the trail lance ; the remainder of our troop in rear of him ; two guns of G3 R.A. ; a troop of native cavalry and a regiment of native
infantry in rear of us. As I rode by the side of him I thought he seemed to be in excellent spirits, laughing and talking with the
officers riding each side of him and pointing out different places that we passed on the road. He was mounted on a small pony,
wearing a long cloak and gold slippers. As we passed parties of Afghans on the road, we closed around him to prevent him being
recognized if possible. We escorted him about twelve miles along a very good road, where there was a troop of native cavalry waiting
to take him over."
Meanwhile in all the country outside the city forces were mustering to expel the small British force, that seemed to have no other
concern than making itself comfortable there for the winter. Ghilzais from the south, Kohistanis from the north, and Ghazni
tribesmen from the west all began to close in on Kabul early in December. Lieutenant-General Roberts resolved to strike at them
before they could concentrate, and on December 9th, after a review of his force designed to impress the inhabitants of the city with
his power, sent out a column under Brigadier-General Macpherson, with a squadron of the Ninth attached, which was to reach the
junction of the Ghazni and Kohistan roads at Arghandeh, separate the converging columns, and drive the Ghazni tribesmen under
Mahomet Jan back into the arms of a second column under Brigadier-General Baker, advancing west from Charasiab against their line
of retreat. Later, on reports coming in of strong Kohistan forces near Karez Mir, in the hills ten miles north-west of the city,
Macpherson's column was switched off to the right to strike at them, his cavalry being left behind in the plain at Aushar. Here they
were joined early on the nth by Brigadier-General Dunham Massy with a second squadron of the Ninth under Lieutenant-Colonel
Cleland, a squadron of the 14th Bengal Lancers, and “A” Battery, R.H.A. Massy's orders were to operate towards Arghandeh in
conjunction with Macpherson's column in the hills to his right front, and after detaching a troop of the Ninth under Captain Scott-
Chishoime in that direction to get in touch with it, the little force—a bare 214 lances—moved off south-westwards towards Kila Kazi,
Captain Gough's troop of the Ninth acting as advanced guard. As it approached the further edge of the Chardeh valley, where rocky
heights rise above the village, the advanced guard suddenly saw the enemy " advancing over the hills in dense masses like a swarm
The following extract from a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel (then Captain) J. A. Stewart-Mackenzie gives the story of the regiment's
unhappy experiences in the action of December 11th :—
" We had not gone far when, about ten miles off, we observed a dense cloud of dust. We still went on, and on halting again saw that
it was the enemy, who were debouching in swarms on to the plains and crowning the heights on our right front. They were in
numbers about 12.000, some say 15,000. with any number of standards, white, red and black ; they seemed to be making straight
for us. The R.H.A. opened fire, but as they were in such straggling order, only a few were killed ; we could see them through our
glasses picking them up. We then went on and again opened fire. Their bullets now began to drop in among us, so the Colonel
ordered me to dismount my troop, and open fire to try and check them. This I did, but our fire had little or no effect on them. After
firing a few rounds, we were ordered to mount and follow the guns, who [sic] had retired some 300 yards. This we did, and on
arriving at the guns they opened fire, but don't seem to have done much harm. The bullets were now coming in like hail, and
knocking the horses down both in the squadron and also the R.H.A. horses.
" General Massy, who was in command, now ordered Cleland to charge and to use his own discretion as to how far he should go. I
heard Cleland say, 'How far am I to go?' and Massy said, 'Use your own discretion.' We were now about 500 yards from the enemy,
who were advancing in skirmishing order, the ground intersected with nullahs and watercourses. The Colonel gave the order to
charge in extended order. Off we went, opening out as we went, the Colonel right ahead of us. It did not take us long to open out,
and before we knew where we were, we were among them. The ground we had to get over was awful ground for cavalry, deep
watercourses and nullahs, but notwithstanding the pace was good; the enemy were scattered all over the place in small bodies,
some behind hillocks, some on horses, but all firing like the devil into us, dropping men and horses all over the place. I must tell you
we were only 126 in the ranks, so you may imagine that when we got among them, that it was all we could do to hold our own ;
they were all round us, and the ones in rear of them coming up firing as they came. In the melee I found myself next the Colonel,
who was on his horse supported by two men. I saw that he was badly wounded, so I told them to take him to the rear. I then as
senior assumed command, and finding that the men were falling fast and that we were getting surrounded on all sides, I ordered the
retirement. On our way back we picked up many men who had their horses shot, and many wounded men. The enemy, those that
were mounted, kept following us, riding round and firing, and then cutting at us with their swords, shouting at the top of their
voices, * Allah, Allah !' On arriving at the guns, we rallied, and I then received an order to charge on the left flank; the guns were
now limbering up. I had to get the men over a very broad, deep nullah, and there was only one place where it was possible to get
over; as soon as I had got a sufficient number over, Mcinnis, Trower and I and these men went at them ; they were now quite close,
and our men were dropping very fast. We got into them again, but the fire was so withering that we were obliged to retire. Just as I
had got about 50 yards from them, my horse was shot dead, falling on my leg and jamming me there. I got out with the help of
Mcinnis, who dismounted. He caught a riderless horse, and I mounted. Trower also remained with me; to these two I owe my life—
they ought both to get the V.C.
" We retired on the village where the guns were gone, and on arriving there found them in the act of being abandoned ; they had
fallen into a deep ditch, and the horses were unable to pull them out. After this it was Sauve qui peut, and you never saw such a
scene of confusion. We were all jammed into a comer of a small field at the side of a village, only one place that we could get over,
the enemy close behind pouring volleys into us. At last we all got over somehow, and on clearing the village I dismounted some men
to cover the retreat, which they kept on doing till the 72nd took up the fighting. The same evening the guns we had abandoned
were brought into camp by a force that had gone out for them."
The losses of the 9th Lancers on this day totalled 2 officers and 16 men killed, Lieutenant-Colonel Cleland and 13 men wounded, and
34 horses killed and 37 wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Cleland later died of his wounds in hospital, after many months of severe
suffering courageously and cheerfully borne. The regiment received the news of his death on August 7th, 1880, just as it was about
to start on the march from Kabul to relieve Kandahar, and a Divisional Order by Lieutenant-General Sir F. Roberts expressed " deep
sympathy with the officers and men of the 9th Lancers in the personal loss they have sustained." In the heat of this disastrous
action, the regimental chaplain, Rev. J. W. Adams, won the Victoria Cross for gallantly rescuing first one and then two more men
who had been unhorsed and pinned down at the bottom of a ditch, and were in imminent peril of being killed helplessly as they lay.
'As a result of the miscarriage of his scheme for defeating the separated enemy columns in detail, the British commander resigned
himself to concentrating his force in Sherpur cantonment and there, if necessary, in standing a siege. The subsequent experiences of
the 9th Lancers were summarily narrated in the words of a contemporary letter from Colonel M. 0. Little, at that time a subaltern in
his second year of service :—
" December 13th General Massy took the cavalry out to cut off some Kohistanees. He went to the top of a small hill (Siah Sang),
about half a mile from camp ; we then saw a few of the enemy on the next knoll, so he dismounted a troop and fired at them,
whereupon they retired to the bottom of the hill. There were now about five hundred of these fellows down in a big plain, yet General
Massy with the squadrons of cavalry could not be persuaded to move us from the top of the hill, where, of course, we were utterly
useless. The Guides cavalry, who had gone out before on their own hook, charged first. General Massy then gave poor Butson leave
to take on his squadron, which he did, and charged the enemy just after the Guides. . . . Poor Jim Butson, it appears, was shot
dead, and Chisholm received a bad bullet wound through the thigh. . . . We were then in rather an ignominious position, shut up
within the walls of Sherpur till the 23rd. On the 20th I was sent out with a troop to reconnoitre, but I had not gone very far outside
the walls before two villages, which I could not keep out of range of, blazed into us, so I had to retire again to Sherpur. The villages
all round were occupied by the enemy ; they also took the heights of Bala Hissar and took possession of the city. Their numbers
were estimated at 60,000. From the 14th to the 23rd they amused themselves by firing into the camp, which was anything but
pleasant, having a continued ping ! whing ! over your head or thereabouts all day.
" All this time our days and nights were spent lining the walls or being picqueted out in the gorge behind. On the night of the 22nd
we were warned that there would probably be an attack that night. As soon as it was daylight a beautiful light was sent up from the
top of Bala Hissar as a signal. Thousands of fellows advanced with great yelling and shouting on our front, but this, I think, was
meant for a feint, as their chief attack was on our left. Independent firing continued there for about three minutes ; a hotter or
quicker fire one could not imagine. Needless to say, they were driven off. The firing now slackened and the enemy made off. About
twelve o'clock the main body of the cavalry were sent out, but too late to get at them on the hop. We, however, did a little
dismounted work and blazed into the brown of them bolting back to the Bala Hissar."
On the morrow the regiment, with the 14th Bengal Lancers, sallied out on the trail of the fugitive foe towards Charasiab. " The
ground was very slippery for our horses," writes Crane. " We were cloaked, as it was snowing very hard. We presented a curious
spectacle, journeying along the road covered in snow ; we could not get along very fast, as the horses slipped so much and had to
get over some very rough ground and deep nullahs. We went about twelve miles, but saw none of the enemy ; we returned the
same road into Sherpur. Just before getting to the gates we had to dismount, many horses slipping and coming down, and had to
lead our horses into lines."
Five days later, under equally bitter and treacherous conditions of weather and ground, one squadron took part in an expedition to
the Chardeh valley, to collect for burial the dead of the action of Kila Kazi. Again no enemy were to be seen ; indeed, the Afghans
never again ventured seriously to molest the repose of the British army of occupation of Kabul.
On the 5th of April 1880, after a period of 2 years with no discipline problems, Morgan is given a long service and good conduct
badge with a penny a day pay rise.
During these peaceful days, polo and racing, varied by an occasional snowball fight, were the order of the day in the regiment, the
only serious interlude being the dispatch of a squadron as part of a strong column sent south on April 16th, 1880, to join hands
with General Sir Donald Stewart's division, then on its way up to Kabul from Kandahar. Five days later a flying column sent south to
clear the Logar valley got into difficulties near Charasiab, and a force had to turn out to rescue it; among the troops so sent was a
second squadron of the Ninth, but it did not come into contact with the enemy, who were routed with considerable loss.
On May and General Stewart with his division reached Kabul and took over command of the whole force there. The whole country
now seemed quiet and peaceful, but it was impossible to move troops down-country in the full heat of summer, and no new Amir
had yet been found to take Yakub Khan's place on the throne. So throughout the long hot, wearisome weeks from May to August
the garrison lazed away the idle days. Odd squadrons of the regiment at intervals went afield foraging or collecting revenue ; the 1st
Squadron, for instance, spent the last three weeks of May in a long tour of the whole area immediately south and west of the city,
and in July a squadron forming part of a brigade under Brigadier-General Macpherson took up permanent post six miles out in the
Chardeh valley. Meanwhile negotiations with the new Amir-designate, Abdur Rahman, were slowly drawing to a successful conclusion,
and at the end of July General Stewart received orders to prepare to evacuate Afghanistan. But scarcely had the first orders for this
move been issued than news came in from the south that the Afghan chief of Herat, Ayub Khan, had disastrously defeated a British
force at Maiwand and shut it up in Kandahar. A force of 10,000 men with 7,000 followers and 8,500 animals had at once to be set in
march to its relief.
The 9th Lancers, 3rd Bengal Cavalry, 3rd Punjab Cavalry, and Central India Horse formed the cavalry brigade under Brigadier-General
Hugh Gough, which, together with three infantry brigades and three mountain batteries, composed the fighting portion of
Lieutenant-General Roberts's column. A start was made from Kabul on August 8th and the whole distance of 340 miles to Kandahar
was covered by the 31st—twenty-five days, of which only two were halt days. No enemy was encountered all the way, and the rapid
pace kept up throughout took heavy toll of the animals and of the followers. " The natives," says Hunter, "used to go off the road
and hide themselves where they could escape the eyes of the rearguard, that they might be left to die in peace. I have seen some of
the transport ponies with the skin worn off their backs and their bones showing through, and this in spite of every care. We had a
good moon the greater part of the march, so reveille used to sound at 11.30, and we generally got into camp about 7 a.m."
Crane's diary gives us a vivid picture of the normal procedure on this famous march. " No one except men who have been on active
service and marched with a division can hardly picture to themselves the bustle and shouting of the native followers ; the shining
glare from the fires that have been lit to show a light to saddle our horses and pack the tents ; the neighing of the horses, the
dismal moan of the camel as a load is packed on his back, the mules kicking their loads off just as we have packed them on their
backs ; some mules getting loose and running amongst the troop horses, causing some of them to break loose ; then the packing
of the baggage on the saddles ; when we have formed up on parade, the time it takes before we can get on the move, sometimes
having to wait to let all the baggage get on in front, and times out of number the loads fall off the mules' backs while on baggage
guard (the mule drivers going along half asleep), having to dismount to stack it on again ; the tedious marching along the hot, dusty
roads, sometimes parched with groomed, and saddles and arms to clean. Then the native cooks who cook our dinner—it is mostly
dusk at evening before we can get any dinner; then sometimes the meat is not half done, and very tough ; it only having been killed
a few hours before it is cooked ; then it is late at evening before we can get any tea. Sometimes, not being able to get bread, the
commissariat not having time to bake, so that they serve us out with japaties—that is, coarse flour meal made into a round, flat
cake, but is enjoyed because we have a sauce to help it down—that is, we are all pretty hungry after the tiring day's march. By the
time the trumpet sounds the last post we get under the blankets and sleep pretty soundly for the few hours we get until reveille
sounds, and the quietude of the night is broken again with the bustle and shouting, with the getting ready for another day's march."
The day-to-day story of the great march is succinctly told in the diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Bushman, who commanded the 9th
Lancers at this time :—
"August 8th.—March at 5.0 a.m. via Indiki (passing Babur's tomb) and reach Charasiab at 11.0 after the intensest delay and
confusion both to column and baggage. Rain falls in the afternoon, but the night passes quietly.
"August 9th.—March at 5.0 a.m. and encamp on the left bank of the river beyond Gamaran past the village leading to the bridge and
ford. The C[entral] I[ndia] H[orse] march into camp late in the evening. Sir F. Roberts publishes a Napoleonic Divisional Order.
"August 10th.—March at 5.0 a.m. and, crossing the Logar about five miles south of the Niga pass through the Sunghi and reach
Magal Khel about 12.0 o'clock. Apply for forage for transport animals.
"August 11th.—March at 5.0 a.m. and, passing Hisarak, encamp near 2nd Infantry Brigade on slope of the hills north of Barak-i-
Barak. Again attack the powers that be on the score of transport animals' food. Colonel Low, Chief Transport Officer, calls in the
afternoon and authorizes our helping ourselves.
"August 12th.—March at 5.0 a.m. along the road through the village to Amir Killa and, entering the Tangi Warkak [pass], cross the
river about a mile and take the road over the KotuI into Saidabad, which is reached about 3.30 p.m. The baggage does not come
into camp till later, and the rearguard and some kit, tents, and stores do not reach camp at all.
"August 13th.—Leaving ' F ' Troop to bring on the Division, march at 6.0 a.m. and reach Takia by 9.30. The 2nd Squadron comes in
about 1.0 p.m., and all the baggage turns up with the exception of two tents and some commissariat stores, which after a time are
"August 14th.—March 3.45 a.m., the baggage under 3rd Punjab Cavalry taking the road to west of the valley, and, after a couple of
halts and a false alarm, reach Shashgao about 9.30. An Afghan complains of being disarmed. The ' Station Staff Officers ' step over,
taking the lucerne told off to the regiment.
"August 15th.—Forming part of the advanced guard, march at 3.45, and halting at the Kotal move in rear of the infantry. The 1st
Squadron who form the van report Ghazni all clear, and we march about 9.30. Visit the citadel.
"August 16th.—March in rear of the brigade at 4.30 a.m., halting at Nani; continue the journey through General Stewards battle-
ground of April 19th, and encamp after a long halt at Ahmed Khel.
"August 17th.—March at 4.30 a.m., keeping the left of the brigade and furnishing flankers, and after another long delay move in to
camp at Jamrud, the infantry remaining back at Chardeh. Spies bring in letters for General Roberts from Khelat-i-Ghilzai.
"August 18th— March at 4.45 a.m. Central India Horse and 9th in front with the 3rd Bengal and Punjab Cavalry on the flanks of the
Infantry Division, and encamp after the usual delay and uncertainty at Karez-i-Oba, where the supplies are better than they are
"August 19th.—March at 4.30 a.m. on the flank of the Division, and reach camp at Mukur about 11.0 a.m. The foraging party are
made fools of, but we help ourselves to the crops near which Major Abadie had posted the picquet.
"August 20th.—March at 4.30 a.m., three troops under Major Abadie furnishing the advanced guard. Forage at some villages on the
right side of the valley, where the 1st Squadron lift some camels, and taking a nosebag of grain, continue the march to Ghojan,
filling up the usual delay in some crops close by.
"August 21st.—March at 4.0 a.m. on the left flank of the division, the ground being broken at first and the early progress very slow
at starting. Passing Shahjui on the left, encamp three miles short of Tazi. News of Kandahar sortie is circulated and causes much
"August 22nd.—March at 2.30 a.m. along the bank of the river, ground broken and hilly, but road good except in occasional spots.
The usual cause of delay prevents our encamping until after 12 o'clock. A party from Khelat-i-Ghilzai collecting supplies await our
arrival, but their news is old.
"August 23rd.—March at 1.0 a.m. with baggage in rear of the brigade, and after a few short halts in the moon and daylight, reach
the historical Khelat-i-Ghilzai early and encamp south-west of the fort, which I visit with Low early in the afternoon, and meet Sir F.
Roberts going the round with the Commandant.
"August 24th.—Halt and inspect the transport and troop stores, getting rid of some of the latter. Sir F. is angry at our losses, and
won't hear of any Government property being abandoned ; no more carriage being available, the grass-cutter's ponies have to carry
"August 25th.—March at 1.0 a.m., followed by the cavalry brigade baggage, and reach our camp ground at Jaldak, soon after six
o'clock, and are under cover early. ' Oh, sleep, it is a pleasant thing,' etc., etc. Rumour says Hastings, Political Officer means to try
his luck, and may meet us in the Robat valley.
"August 26th.—March at 2.30 a.m. and reach Tirandaz soon after 8.0 a.m., but the baggage being behind the infantry, camp is not
pitched till late. General Roberts pays the lines a visit, and Hastings, the Political, comes soon after with news from Kandahar,
announcing probable levanting of Ayoob Khan. A Napoleonic Divisional Order comes out in the evening, and a rumour of the cavalry
brigade going in advance to Robat.
"August 27th.—The 3rd Bengal and Punjab Cavalry march for Robat at 1.0 a.m., and the remainder of the brigade move with the
division under General Roberts at 2.30 a.m., and reach the Belochi camp beyond Shahr-i-Safa before 8.0 a.m. Are late starting and
have to trot on in advance of the infantry. The baggage is up in good time, and camp pitched early. The lieutenant-general is unable
to go beyond this camp. A Divisional Order is issued, ordering a column for special service, and afterwards cancelled, Ayoob Khan's
force ' being behind the Baba Wall pass entrenched, and the country round the city deserted.'
"August 28th,—March at 2.30 a.m. in front of Central India Horse, the advanced guard losing the road, and after a couple of halts,
reach Robat about 8.30. The baggage begins to appear about 11.0, and many of the tents are not up until (?). Rumour states that
Ayoob is making overtures, and says his army will not fight!
"August 29th.—Halt. A squadron furnishes outposts. A subsistence party goes out with Brigadier-General Gough, and a picquet
keeps guard over Kotal in front of camp. L. R. E. calls and gives the particulars of General Burrows' reverse.
"August 30th.—March 3.30 a.m., and after some difficulty in starting move across the plain to Mohmand, which is reached about
6.30. News from Hastings states that Ayoob really means business, and is entrenching. General Gough inquires about cooking and
messing for three days, and an estimate of the carriage is prepared.
"August 31st.—March 2.30 a.m. and, after a long wait at starting, move along the right flank of the divisional baggage and reach
Kandahar about 10.0 a.m. The 1st and 3rd Brigades advance to clear the ground in front of the cantonments, and the 3rd Bengal
Cavalry to reconnoitre, and the result is the display of the enemy's position and disposition, at a small loss on our side, after an
action which does not terminate until dusk.
"September 1st.—March off at 8.0 a.m. and, halting in the village of Sarpuza, witness the attack of the 1st and 2nd Brigades. As
soon as the villages on our left front are cleared, move round by Kohkaran, overtaking and slaying the infidel dogs. Recrossing the
river beyond the enemy's camp, return by the Baba Wall Kotal. Hear of the death of Colonel Brownlow, 72nd Highlanders just at
starting, and later of that of Fromes, Shewell, and poor Stratton, 22nd, whom I had spoken to so lately, and capture of the guns
which are in enemy's camp as we ride through.
"September 2nd.—List of casualties yesterday and day before 'nil.' "
On September 1st, the day after the force reached Kandahar, it attacked Ayub Khan's position on the hills west of the city. The plan
was for the infantry to storm the heights in front and turn his right, while the cavalry, moving wider out on the left, operated
towards the valley of the Argandab river, so as to threaten his line of retreat towards Girishk. The Afghans made no very serious
resistance and fell back so soon and so fast that they slipped away from the cavalry pursuit, which never came up with their main
force, only a few stragglers being overtaken and cut down. " We arrived as usual just an hour too late," writes Hunter caustically. "
However, we did a great advance across the plain in echelon of squadrons against what turned out to be a party consisting of
women and children, donkeys, cows, and camels, which presented a most formidable appearance at a distance. So much for the
battle. Two days after we marched out here and encamped close to a vineyard. That vineyard does not contain a single grape now,
although when we first arrived they might have been taken out of it by the cartloads and weighed by tons. We used to lie under the
trees and gorge ourselves with them. There was also a garden of very fine pomegranates, and these are also finished."
In these idyllic surroundings the Second Afghan War, as far as the 9th Lancers were concerned, came to a happy end. But though
the dispersal of our forces in Afghanistan and their return to India soon began went on apace, the regiment was not destined to see
the last of Kandahar for many weeks yet, and the intervening period was dull for all ranks. "This is not a very lively spot," wrote
Hunter on October 2nd. " There is nothing to do but fish in the Argandab river, and that is poor sport. The flies are something
frightful; one has to fight for every mouthful of food. They go into one's tea, and to eat jam is almost impossible, without swallowing
at the same time about a dozen flies."
James Morgan’s practical background is eventually recognised by the Lancers as he is appointed as a shoeing smith on the 28th of
October 1880. The unhygienic life at Kandahar did nothing for the health of Morgan who is admitted to the hospital there on the 8th
of November 1880 suffering from Dysentery. The treatment for this often fatal complaint was administered by Surgeon Michael
Cogan and included doses of opium, Morgan remained in hospital for 2 weeks until the 21st of November. Four days later the 9th
Lancers left Kandahar to return to India, they journeyed through the Bolan Pass on the 25th and in easy stages of 10 to 15 miles a
day they travelled south. The 9th Hussars met their replacements (the 10th Hussars) at Sibi and eventually reached Pir Chauki, the
station where they entrained for their onward journey to Umballa (or Ambala) on the 8th of December. The final word again goes to
On Monday, December 13th, 1880. the last echelon of the regiment arrived at Ambala, "dressed in thick Guthrie coats, helmets
covered, everything thickly begrimed with dust, not having been able to get a wash or a shave, and pretty nearly done up for want
of sleep, looking, as we were, old warriors returning from an arduous campaign." Part of it had, in fact, been in the field for but one
month short of two years, and 4 officers and 51 other ranks never returned from Afghanistan. It must have been with thankful
hearts that, after all their trials and privations, "undergone with soldier-like bearing and cheerful hearts under all trying
circumstances," the 9th Lancers settled down to peaceful Indian soldiering once more in Ambala.
On the 6th of February 1881 James Mason is again admitted to hospital at Umballa where he is treated for a wound incurred when a
horse trod on his foot at stables. Surgeon Edmund H. Roberts keeps him in hospital for 6 days and he is released on the 12th of
February. Having recovered from this wound James Mason is again wounded on the 2nd of March when he is caught up in a fight in
the barrack room, a contusion of the face and 3 more days in hospital is the result.
The remainder of 1881 passes with little occurrence, the winter months being cold and rainy, this contrasted greatly with the
summer months on the hot and dusty plains that proved very uncomfortable for all. In March 1882 Umballa was visited by the
Viceroy during which the 9th Lancers provided an escort and held the annual troop competition. On the 31st of March James is
involved in some kind of indiscretion (along with No. 1712 Pte. W. Winter) which results in his loss of his good conduct badge and
penny a day good conduct pay.
In April 1882 at Umballa, Lieutenant-Colonel H. A. Bushman, paraded the regiment to present to those who had earned them the
medals for the second Afghan War, 293 officers and other ranks came forward to receive them. Of these 255 were also decorated
with the bronze star awarded to all those who had participated in Roberts's famous march from Kabul to Kandahar. On the 16th of
July 1882 Shoeing Smith Morgan is admitted to hospital suffering from rheumatism and lumbago with a fever, he remains in the
hospital for 34 days but is eventually sent to Kasauli up in the milder hills for a change of climate, he arrives there on the 19th of
The fever and rheumatic problems persist at Kasauli into October of 1882, Morgan being discharged from hospital on the 26th .
James is re-admitted on the 6th of November and the local surgeon diagnoses Bright’s disease, a theory that a later surgeon
decides is not accurate and questions the existence of such an ailment. Whatever the problem, Morgan is back at Umballa on the
20th of December 1882 and remains in hospital until the 4th of January 1883 with rheumatism. Having been released on the 4th he
is back in hospital on the 19th for the same problem and is kept in for 22 days. In March of 1883, as the hot weather begins to set
in, the regiment sends its invalids and families to the hills at Kasauli, Morgan joins this party on the 26th of March, arriving at Kasauli
four days later on the 30th. The European climate of the hills station benefited his health as he is free from problems and is no
doubt much fitter on his return to Umballa on the 8th of September 1883, he is however admitted for 4 days at Umballa on the day
after the march finished.
The winter of 1883 passes quietly as does 1884, the only occurrences of note happening late in the year with a restoration of his
long service and good conduct badge on the 4th of September and a 3 day spell in hospital due to an ankle sprain from the 12th to
the 14th of December.
The 9th Lancers continue to serve at Umballa into 1885, Morgan is re-vaccinated by Brigade Surgeon Roberts on the 9th of
February. Shoeing Smith Morgan seems to not be involved in the journey of a party of the 9th to Jullunder where a grand Durbar
was held in April of 1885 for the Amir of Afghanistan and the Viceroy, Lord Dufferin. In July (20th to 31st) and September (16th to
21st) of 1885 he is back in hospital suffering from fever, it must have come as a great relief for the Lancers when they were
eventually ordered to return to England.
The Lancers entrain for Bombay where they embark on the troopship HMS Crocodile on the 28th of October 1885, their station at
Umballa having been taken by the Queen’s Bays. The journey of the ship back to Portsmouth was uneventful, the ship arriving on
the 23rd of November 1885, Morgan had been out of England for nearly 6 years at that time. From Portsmouth the Lancers then
proceed to Shorncliffe where they take over the horses of the Queens Bays, arriving at that station on the 24th. On arrival at
Portsmouth, Morgan is promoted to Farrier Sergeant with effect of the 23rd, from the musters it would seem that he had been
acting in this rank for some time.
On the 1st of April 1886, having completed his first period of 8 years, James is permitted to re-engage for a period of a further 12
years in order to gain a pension. The summer of 1886 at Shorncliffe was marked by a series of inspections which kept the Lancers
very busy, it was also marked by Farrier Sergeant Morgan again being admitted to hospital for 28 days from the 18th of June
because of diarrhea. In August of 1886 the Lancers are on the move to York, where they arrive on the 21st of that month. On the
4th of September James becomes entitled to a second long service and good conduct badge, however as a SNCO he is not actually
permitted to wear these badges.
Farrier Sergeant Morgan of the 9th Lancers marries Miss Ada Flower at the Registry Office, York, on the 22nd of October 1886, this
was to be almost the last occurrence of his army career. On the 2nd of April 1887 at York he is yet again admitted to hospital
suffering from diarrhea and the surgeon diagnoses his problems as being due to long service in India. On a medical board held at
York on the 6th of May 1887 under the Brigade Surgeon, William Ashton, it is decided that Morgan is unfit to continue his service
and is to be discharged as medically unfit.
The eventual discharge of 1925 Farrier Sergeant James Morgan happens on the 7th of June 1887 at York, he is paid £26, 3 shillings
and sixpence back pay. His physical description is given as 33 and a month old, 5 ft 7 and a half inches tall, sallow complexion, grey
eyes and auburn hair. His intended place of residence was shown as c/o Mrs Flowers (mother-in-law?), Hollington near Uttoxeter,
Staffordshire. He had served 9 years and 64 days in total.
‘The Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers 1715-1936’ by Major E.W. Sheppard, Aldershot, 1939.
Chelsea Pension Records, WO 97/ 3499
Musters WO 16/ 1292 (Cavalry Depot (India), Colchester, 1878-79)
WO 16/ 1219-1222 (9th Lancers 1878-1888, April 1883-October 1885 missing)
|James Morgan – 9th Lancers – 1878 to 1887