Inverness – The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders Memorial

This fine 19th Century memorial, nicely restored and re-inscribed in the 1990s, and thoroughly cleaned in 2014, stands in front of Inverness railway station.

Intended to commemorate men who were killed in action or died of disease in Egypt and the Sudan between 1882 & 1887, and unveiled in 1893 to mark the centenary of what had been the 79th Regiment of Foot but was now the 1st Bn. The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders,…

…it would require updating not long after, as the battalion would return to the Sudan in 1898 and suffer further casualties.

Before we take a closer look, a quick spin around the memorial reveals that, on two of the faces, the large panels contain names,…

…and on the other two faces (front below, reverse above), the large panels are blank.

Below these panels, the actions remembered are inscribed in large capital letters, with the names of the dead listed on smaller panels beneath, those above casualties of the Battle of Tel El Kebir (along with ten men who died in Cairo – close-up below), which took place on 13th September 1882, and is the earliest action commemorated on the memorial.

Two actions that took place in December 1885 along the River Nile are remembered,…

…the first (we shall return to Atbara and the main panel pictured here later) in truth a series of skirmishes as Mahdist troops attempted to blockade the fort at Kosheh, the garrison of which included men of the Cameron Highlanders, and which culminated in the capture of the village of Absari by the British on 16th December 1885.  Beneath the name,…

…the smaller panel lists the dead.  Three names to be found here are mentioned in a regimental order published a few days later: ‘The Officer Commanding feels sure that all ranks will share his deep sorrow at the deaths of Lieutenant Cameron, Private McKenzie, and Private Farrington, of wounds; and will sympathise with their bereaved relatives. In Lieutenant Cameron, the Cameron Highlanders have lost a most promising and gallant young officer, whose zeal and readiness to perform any duty, however difficult or dangerous, will long be remembered by all who have served with him.’

Following the capture of Absari, the Battle of Ginnis, fought on 30th December 1885, and, incidentally, the last battle that the British Army would fight in red uniforms, would see the end of the first Sudan campaign.

Once again the names of the dead are to be found beneath the large blank panel on the reverse of the memorial.

Anyway, all of this tells us that when the memorial was first unveiled, it had four large blank panels on each face, beneath which the name of the action remembered was inscribed, with smaller tablets at the bottom listing the names of the dead.

The names on two of the large panels are those added a few years later after the second Sudan campaign.  The Battle of Atbara took place on 8th April 1898, and you may remember we saw another memorial to the Cameron Highlander casualties of the battle at Kincraig last post.  Incidentally, the only man mentioned on that memorial, Piper Peter Stewart, appears as Piper J. Stewart on the list of names above.

The battle that took place at Khartoum on 2nd September 1898 – do not confuse this with the famous siege of 1884-1885 – is today known as the Battle of Omdurman (now a suburb of Khartoum), and it proved a decisive victory for the British and a mixed force of Egyptians and Sudanese against Dervish forces totalling over twice their number.  British casualties, and those of their allies, amounted to maybe fifty killed, as opposed to the Khalif’s men, who suffered 12,000 dead, a similar number wounded, and some 5,000 captured.  Kitchener had his revenge for the death of General Gordon thirteen years earlier.  This face of the memorial would originally have had just the word EGYPT, covering a multitude of sins,…

…with this commemorative plaque beneath.

The monument was carved in Portland Stone by the London sculptor George Edward Wade, local craftsmen making the pedestal and the granite base.  And it’s not the only memorial in this little square, although the other one is easily missed, and, curiously, is not visible in any of the photos in this post.  Next time.

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2 Responses to Inverness – The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders Memorial

  1. Morag Lindsay Sutherland says:

    well my goodness how often have I walked past that memorial and NEVER stopped to look at the names etc- another wonderful lesson on Highland regiments- thank you
    I won’t be in the Highland capital for quite some time as we go into tier 4 lockdown but I will check it out next year

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