Honorable Corps of Gentleman-at-Arms Late 4th Bengal Native Infantry and 3rd Sikh Irregular Cavalry
A rare carte de visite photo of Frederick Robertson Aikman in the unique uniform of an officer of the 3rd Sikh Irregular Cavalry wearing the medals for the Sutlej campaign of 1845, Punjab campaign of 1848-49, the Indian Mutiny of 1867-58 with two clasp and the Victoria Cross. The photographer is shown on the reverse as The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company of Regent Street, London. The photo is identified on the reverse with what appears to be an original signature with the notation “3rd Sikh Cavalry”.
Frederick Robertson Aikman was born in Ross, Broomelton, Lanarkshire on 6 February 1828. He entered the service of the Honorable East India Company when he was commissioned as an Ensign in the 4th Bengal Native Infantry on 18 January 1845. He was present with his Regiment throughout the Sutlej campaign in 1845 and at the battle of Sobaron (medal). He was promoted Lieutenant on 7 July 1848. He next saw action with his Regiment in the Punjab campaign of 1848 and 1849 with General Wheeler’s Field Force (medal). He served with the 4th BNI in the Indian Mutiny in the siege and capture of Delhi, the action of Bolundshur and the siege of Lucknow (medal and two clasps) and was appointed to do duty with the 3rd Sikh Irregular Cavalry.
The Times, in his obituary states: “While commanding the 3rd Sikh Cavalry on the advanced picket, with 100 of his men, having obtained information just as the force marched on the morning of March 1, 1858, of the proximity, three miles off the high road, of a body of 500 rebel infantry, and 200 horse, and two guns, under Moosahib Ali Chuckbdar, he attacked and utterly routed them, cutting up more than 100 of men, capturing the two guns and driving the survivors into and over the River Goomtee. This feat was performed under every disadvantage of broken ground and partly under flanking fire from an adjoining fort. On this occasion he received a severe saber wound in the face in a personal encounter with several of the enemy.” For this action, Lieutenant Aikman was recommended for, and awarded, the Victoria Cross (London Gazette 3 September 1858). He was also promoted Captain on 26 April 1858. His Victoria Cross was personally presented to him by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on June 8th of 1859. However, after 18 years service in the Indian Army, Captain Aikman was forced to retire on half-pay as a result of his wound.
The Queen appointed Captain Aikman a member of The Honorable Corps of Gentleman-at-Arms, the Queen’s official bodyguard, on 16 May 1865. In addition, he was appointed Honorary Major, Honorary Lieutenant Colonel and ultimately Honorary Colonel, in the 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (Royal Middlesex Militia).
Colonel Frederick Robertson Aikman, VC, died suddenly on 5 October 1888 during the County Ball at Hamilton, Lanarkshire. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London. His Victoria Cross is still in private hands and is not on public display.