The Devonshire Regiment officially adopted this name in 1881 when the 11th (North Devon) Regiment of Foot was amalgamated into the Devon Militia. At the same time, a new role was created - the Regiment was, for the future, to become the custodians of Britain's far-flung Empire in Asia.
The fact was that by the end of the 19th century, very few Asiatic countries actually wanted to be part of the British Empire so subversion popped up with some regularity, usually in some very out-of the-way places which took a long time to reach. The authorities were particularly anxious about territories which adjoined their border with southern India. What was needed, they reasoned, were well-manned outposts, set up throughout these territories whether their rulers wanted them or not, so that any little local difficulties could be dealt with promptly and thoroughly.
It's not surprising that Burma, right on India's very doorstep, should be the scene of three separate wars in 1824, 1855 and 1885. The third war was still rumbling on in 1892 but this does not seem to be the reason for the deaths of the men buried in the cemetery Rajati Hadaja visited on her holiday. From the Regimental History, we can see the effects of tropical fevers, septic insect bites, l high temperatures and lack of clean water to drink.
In October 1890 men of the 2nd Battalion set off for the three locations chosen to be defensive bases in case of insurrection - Schwebo. Bhamo and Bernardmyo. The plan was for two companies of men to be stationed at each place. They knew only too well that the terrain and climate in that part of Burma were some of the harshest conditions in the world and that they had to keep a constant vigil knowning they were never safe from ambush, even behind their stockades.
Burma was not considered to have been pacified so the 2nd Battalion was not relieved of its involvement in that country until well into 1892. The men chosen to defend the Empire in these remote places were all young, fit and well when they disappeared into the jungle in 1890 but the sad photos which follow indicate quite another story and go a long way to explaining why the physical condition of the regiment was so poor when they were called upon to take part in the 2nd Boer War a few years later.