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Devonshire Rgt.

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From Lt.Gen. Sir R.C. Low KCB:

Camp, 1 May 1895

The Panjkora River

On the 14th (of April) the gathering of the previous day gradually disappeared but not before we had to lament  the loss of another valuable officer, viz., Captain Peebles, Devonshire Regiment, in charge of the Maxim guns, who was mortally wounded in the entrenchment whither he had crossed the previous evening with one of his guns on a  mussuck-raft."

Captain Peebles was evacuated to Sadu where he died next day, aged 31.


Allan Laing Peebles was born in Cape Town SA in 1864, He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Peebles and his father, Thomas Peebles, had commanded the 1st Battalion from 1869 to 1871. Two his brothers also served in the British Army. Allan Peebles served for four years as Adjutant of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment before being promoted Captain in 1891.

Captain Peebles was buried at Mardan (now in Pakistan) and a commemorative stone erected by his fellow officers.


From Lt.Gen. Sir R.C. Low KCB:

Laram Pass, 27 July 1895

"I may record here an instance of the promptitude of Brigadier-General Gatacre DSO and the gallantry of Major Aylmer VC, Royal Engineers, which occurred on the 15th April. On that day I had only three rafts left, and in the last attempt to cross the Panjorka River one of these three rafts was overturned, having on it at the time two British soldiers - Private Hall and Private Ellwood of the Maxim Gun detachment of the Devonshire Regiment, one sepoy* and one boatman. 

When the raft was overturned, Brigadier Gatacre was standing on the bank, and seeing that one of the British soldiers (Private Hall) and the sepoy and boatman had regained the raft, which was being carried downstream bottom upwards, and knowing that the stream took a considerable bend before it came to the point where the suspension bridge was being built, he galloped down to that point and informed Major Aylmer, who was superintending the construction of the bridge, of the accident.

At that point there was no superstructure to the bridge - merely the standards and wire suspension ropes. Major Aylmer ordered a rope to be passed across to the right bank but the slack was caught by the current and the rope was carried away. At this moment, the raft appeared in sight about 200 yards off, and Major Aylmer, seeing the urgency of the case, got into a sling cradle and was pulled to the centre of the stream. The raft immediately afterwards passed under him, and he grasped Private Hall who left his  hold on the raft, whereupon his extra weight immersed the cradle in the water, so that the officer and the man were in great danger of being swept away. However, Major Aylmer held on manfully and with the assistance of No. 3189 Lance-Naick Sham Singh of No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, who got down into the cradle to help Major Aylmer, the whole party was landed, though with much difficulty and danger."


The Panjkora River
The Panjkora River

The suspension bridge mentioned above can just be seen to the left of,

and just below, centre,

From the London Illustrated News.


Lieutenant General Sir Fenton John Aylmer, 13th Bt., won the VC in the Hunza Campaign in India in 1892. He was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in 1895. His final appointment was as Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers in 1922 and succeeded to his title of 13th Baronet Aylmer on 5 December 1928.


Casualty notification at the Panjkora River - 13/14 April 1895:

Private R. Northway, No. 3194.

Severely wounded with a gunshot wound in the leg at the Panjkora River.

The 1891 Census return for Exeter shows Private Robert Northway, aged 18, at the Higher barracks in Howell Road. Born in the September Quarter of 1873, he was the son of Robert and Emily Northway of Perrot Buildings, Torquay. His father was a sailor in the Merchant Service. His death has not been found in the Army lists of the time so may be he survived (although he cannot be found in the 1901 census).

Also listed on that same 1891 census return is the name of Private Joseph Edward Hall from Yealmpton, aged 18. Is it possible that he was the "Private Hall" who was so spectacularly rescued from the Panjkora River by Major Aylmer?

*Sepoy = a native of India


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