The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
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James Anderson
His first sea draft was to the troopship HMS Serapis on 22 Sep 75.
This was a super draft for a young seaman as Serapis was to be refitted & converted in order to take the Prince of Wales (future King
Edward VII) & his extensive suite on a tour of India.  Serapis sailed first to Brindisi, Italy where on 16 Oct the P of W and his party came
on board for the trip thru the Suez canal to India.  During the cruise Anderson was promoted to Ordinary Seaman upon attaining 18 yrs
of age, 14 Feb ’76.

In Jun ’76  Serapis returned to UK & Anderson was drafted briefly to the depot ship Duke of Wellington, then to HMS Warrior (the Royal
Navy’s first ironclad of 1860) on 10 Aug ’76. He was to serve on her until 25 Mar ’78.  No doubt he took some training on her huge
muzzle loading deck guns during his time on board. During his time on board her he was rated Trained Man (TM)& thus received a raise
in daily pay.
Then he returned briefly to Dk of Well’n where he was promoted to AB on 3 Sep ’78.

His next ship was HMS Malabar(troopship) from 8 Oct to 30 Jun ’79. Malabar was taking troops to India during this timeframe thus
Anderson was to sail to India & back again. In the day the average trip outward bound took 70 days.
On return to Portsmouth he was drafted to HMS Excellent on 1 July ‘79 to commence his gunnery career. Anderson  qualified as a
Seaman Gunner 1st class (SG1) on 1 Dec ’79.
Leaving Excellent in Mar 80 he briefly served on HMS Boscawen again & returned to Excellent until 15 Mar ’80 when he gets drafted to
HMS Northumberland (Ironclad of 1866) on15 Feb ’81.On board her is promoted to Leading Seaman(LS) on 8 Oct ’81.  

Leaving Northumberland on 10 Jan ’82 he was drafted to HMS Cambridge & back to Excellent to re qualify, until  19 Apl ’82, when he
was drafted to HMS Sultan (Ironclad of 1870). Whilst on Sultan Anderson was promoted to 2nd Captain of the Mizzen Top (PO2) on 31
May ’82.  HMS Sultan formed part of the Mediterranean Fleet  & was one of the battleships that participated in the bombardment of
Alexandria on 11 July ’82, giving Anderson a first taste of a gunnery action.
HMS Sultan qualified for the Egypt medal of 1882 with clasp Alexandria 11 July 1882, Anderson’s medal being engraved - Cap: Miz: Top.
James William Anderson was born on 13 Feb 1858 in Alverstoke, Hantsport, & entered the RN as a Boy on 3 Jan ’74.
He was almost 16 yrs of age.

He took his Boys training on board  HMS St Vincent, being rated Boy 1st class on 13 Jan, then continued his training on  HMS Royal
Adelaide, & Boscawen.  

He arrived on board HMS Excellent on 29 Jan ’75,  a place he was to return to many time during his future naval career.
Chief Petty Officer James William Anderson, RN
HMS Sultan was, at the time of her commissioning in Oct 1871, the
largest of the central battery ships afloat.  She carried eight 10” & four
9” MLR (Muzzle Loading Rifled{barrels})  guns in a two tiered battery
fitted with embrasures & an overhang to improve the rate of fire.  She
was rigged for full sail as well as being  steam driven.  Sultan was
present at the bombardment of Alexandria on 11 July 1882, & suffered
some hit damage from the shore batteries during the bombardment.  

On 6 Mar ’89  she struck an uncharted rock in South Camino Channel
just north of the main island of Malta.  Efforts to remove her were
unsuccessful & she sank in the subsequent gale.  She was
successfully salvaged o& entered Malta dockyard for repairs &
subsequently was able to make her way back to UK, & underwent a full
modernization refit.  She served in the Channel Fleet until being
relegated to an Artificer’s  training ship in 1906.   She was finally
broken up in ’46.
HMS Carysfort, pictured above,  was a
Corvette (later rated as a 3rd cl Cruiser) &
commissioned in Sep 1878.  She  carried  two
7” MLR guns & twelve 64 pound deck guns.  
She was rigged for full sail as well as steam,   
although she was a slow steamer, only able to
reach 13 knots when her contemporaries were
capable of 18 knots.  Her sailing qualities under
sail were excellent though.  She was the first of
the steel hulls for the smaller ships in the RN.

In ’80 she undertook a round the world cruise
with both sons of the Prince of Wales (later
Edward VII) .  On the way home she was
detached to join the Mediterranean fleet for the
1884-85 Soudan campaign.  Some of her crew
participated in the battles of El-Teb,  Tamaai,  
Tofrek, & the operations in and around the Port
of Suakin in both ’84 & ’85.  In ’86 she was the
Rear Admiral’s flagship at Alexandria.  
Spending most of her career in the Med,  she
was finally sold in 1899 for breaking up.








The second picture is the gun deck of HMS
Carysfort - this was Anderson's ship in the
Soudan. Anderson would have been very
familiar with this deck I am certain.
Upon leaving Sultan on 21 May ‘83 he returned to Excellent & re-qualifed as a SG1 on 1 Feb ’84, & was drafted to HMS Carysfort
(Corvette of ’78) where he was appointed Gun Captain on 8 Apl ’84.  He received promotion to PO 1st cl & Captain of the Forecastle on
30 July ’84.

Members of Carysfort formed part of the Gardner’s Gun crew & saw action at the Battles of Hasheen & Tofrek on 20 & 22 Mar ’85.  
There were 6 Gardners Gun crews present at the engagements & some detail  of the battles are given in the Introduction to this section.
Anderson’s was one of 5 of this Egypt/Soudan medal three clasp combination awarded to members the RN brigade at Tofrek, 2 of which
were awarded to officers & 3 to ratings.

Anderson returned to Excellent on 28 Jan ’86 where he qualified as a Gunner’s Mate(GM) in  Feb  &  Gunnery Instructor (GI) on 24 Mar
‘87 .  For the rest of his career he was to be a Gunnery Instructor.
Whilst at Excellent Anderson qualified for & rec’d his Naval Long service medal on 10 May ’86.
His next posting on 24 Mar ’87  was as GI on HMS St Vincent (Boys training ship Ports) where he remained until 27 Oct ’89.
He then returned to Excellent until being drafted as GM & GI to HMS Melpomene(2nd cl Cruiser of ’88) on 17 Jun ’90.

1890 was not to be a good year for Anderson. Up to this time in his career his conduct had been graded as Exemplary or Very
Good, he had been awarded his three Good Conduct badges (GCB) on time, & had been awarded his Naval LS medal. However, on
31 Dec ’90, for an unspecified infraction, he was deprived on two GCB’s, & worse still, he was also deprived of his LS medal, his
Conduct rating being  graded as Good for that year. He was not reduced in rank or rate tho, but he would have lost some of his
daily good conduct pay.
He redeemed himself the following yr as his first GCB was restored on 1 July ’91, the second CGB on 31 Dec. For the remainder of
his career his Conduct assessments remained Very Good.

Anderson  left  Melpomene when she returned from the Pacific on 14 Feb ’94 & returned to Excellent  where  he re qualified as a GI
on 22 May ’94, was promoted to Acting Chief PO(CPO) on 28 Feb ’95.  He was to remain at Excellent as GI & Chief GI & was to be
awarded his LS medal for the second time on 9 March ’96, 5 ½ yrs after he forfeited the first award of his LS.
On 10 Feb ’96 Anderson’s time was officially complete & he qualified for a pension, however signed on for a further 5 yrs service.  On
12 May ’96 he was confirmed in the rank of CPO GI.

Anderson remained Chief GI at HMS Excellent until 7 July ’97, when he was drafted to HMS Herald (Paddle river gunboat of 1890) as
Gunnery Instructor.   HMS Herald was attached to the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa station for service on the
Zambesi river.
After Herald decommissioned on 31 Aug ’98 Anderson returned to Excellent where he continued to serve as Chief GI until pensioned
on 17 Feb ’01 at 43 yrs of age.  He had completed 27 yrs service in the RN.

Anderson was too old for call up in 1914 & died in Alverstoke in 1932.
Anderson had previously qualified for
appointment to Warrant Gunner during ’89 & ’
90, & his two original Certificates for this
qualification are shown in this display. Also
shown are excerpts from  his magnificent hand
written Gunnery  Journal  for the same period.
Anderson’s Journal is signed by him aand also
by his two Examiners & HMS Excellent’s
Commanding Officer, Capt. Compton Domville.



The badges shown in the display were worn by
Anderson during his career & represent his
Gunnery Instructor’s rate as a PO1 & his Gunner’
s Mate rate badges as a CPO.  Also shown is his
Victorian CPO cap badge. These Victorian Naval
gold wire badges are very very rare.
As a footnote, I visited Portsmouth in Sep 2006 & had the opportunity to tour HMS Warrior, which has been fully restored to its 1860
configuration & is now a floating museum.  As I wandered about the decks of Warrior I was thinking specifically of Anderson & the
other Victorian ratings I have in my collection that served on her.   I imagined him & others working the huge deck guns that have
been beautifully restored. It was quite a feeling!
On board HMS Warrior the legacy of the Victorian navy lives on into a new century!