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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

A Birr man in Sudan, Private Michael Egleton, York and Lancs

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Michael Egleton was born in Birr, King’s County around 1840. He was the son of John Egleton, his mother has not been traced.

Michael joined the 65th Regiment of Foot at Birr on 30 October 1868. He gave his trade as a labourer, he was recorded as 5 foot 10 inches tall, with blue coloured eyes and brown hair.

He was later medically examined at Dublin and was posted to the regiment on 5 November 1868.

He initially served at home until January 1871 when he was posted to the East Indies with the regiment. In 1881 the regiment was amalgamated with the 84th Regiment of Foot as part of the Childers reforms to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions, York and Lancashire Regiment. The 65th forming the 1st Battalion and the 84th forming the 2nd Battalion.

In February 1884 the regiment was sent to Sudan, where trouble was brewing. Britain’s involvement in the Sudan was a consequence of the support of the Khedive of Egypt who also ruled over Sudan, and Britain’s interest in the Suez Canal. The Mahdi uprising against the rule of the Khedive in 1881 had made the area unstable and with the defeat of the Egyptian army in 1883 the British sent troops to Sudan to evacuate the Egyptians from Khartoum.

The 1st Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment took park in the Battle of El Teb (29 February 1884) where a British force of around 4000 men held of Mahdi force of around 10-15000 warriors armed with swords, spears and daggers. The battalion fought a month later at the Battle of Tamai (13 March 1884) where the same force won another victory over the Mahdi.

Battle of El Teb, image courtesy of the National Army Museum.

The 1st Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment left Sudan in April 1884 and Private Egleton remained on home service until his discharge from the army.

Ultimately Khartoum fell to the Madhi in 1885, the relief column that had been sent was two days late and the British re-entered the Sudan in 1896 with Sudan being reconquered in 1899.

For his service in Sudan, Private Egleton received the Egypt medal with the clasp El Teb – Tamaai, the Khedives Bronze star. While the star was generally issued unnamed the example to Private Egleton was impressed with his details. Similar named examples to the 1st Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment are also encountered. Private Egleton also received the Long Service & Good Conduct medal on 1 April 1887 for 18 years’ good service. Interestingly his silver medals are unaccounted for which might suggest he sold or pawned them at a later date.

Private Egleton's Khedive's Star.
Naming on Khedive's Star.

Michael was discharged from the army on 24 August 1889, after a total of 19 years and 298 days’ service with the colours. He returned to his home place of Birr where he lived with his sister in law Julia in his brother’s Martin house, 4, Clonoghill Upper. His brother Martin had died in 1877.

In 1891 the 1st Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment was stationed in Birr, their band playing in the town. It’s interesting to wonder if Michael heard of their arrival and came out to see his old regiment.

1st Battalion, York and Lancs in Birr 1891.

Michael remained in Birr until his death on 26 January 1904 in Birr workhouse hospital from paralysis. He was buried in Clonoghill Cemetery, Birr.

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