|The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
|LEADING SEAMAN EDWARD WILSON, R.N.|
Edward Wilson was born in Plumstead, Kent on
1 July 1860. He was the son of Thomas and
Ann, & had two older brothers, Harvey &
James. Later four more children were to be
added to the marriage. Edward entered the RN
on board HMS Fisgard 1 Oct ’75 aged 15 yrs,
He was drafted to the boys training ship, the
old 3 decker HMS St Vincent where he
completed his boys training & was rated Boy
1st class on 11 Oct ’76.
His next draft was to the Portsmouth Depot
ship HMS Duke of Wellington, then to HMS
Vernon on 7 Apl ’77. He was to remain at
Vernon until Sep, then drafted to HMS Simoom
(troopship) for one month, then to his first sea
going ship HMS Bellerophon (Ironclad
battleship) on 14 Nov ’77. Whilst on
Bellerphon he was promoted to Ordinary
Seaman on his 18th birthday, 1 Jul ’78.
Leaving Bellerophon, his next draft was to HMS
Blanche on 19 Feb ’79. To date his conduct had
been assessed as Exemplary or Very Good, but
on Blanche he got into trouble & was placed in
the Second Class for Conduct on 13 Aug.
Being placed in the 2nd class for conduct was
not good as his shore leave & daily grog issue
were stopped & he would have been required
to undergo a punishment routine for his offence
(s) at specific times during the workday. He
was to remain in the 2nd class until 1 Dec.
Upon leaving Blanche he was drafted to the
shore Naval Barracks at Portsmouth on 27 Nov ’
81, to await his next draft. On 1 Jan ’82 the
barracks were renamed HMS Duncan, but he
only remained there until Apl 4 when he was
drafted to the old ironclad HMS Minotaur, she
being one of the RN’s early ironclads,
commissioned in ’63. Minotaur was part of the
large Mediterranean fleet but had just missed
the bombardment of Alexandra, arriving in the
port on the 12th July; on that day Wilson was
rated Trained Man & promoted to AB.
Minotaur qualified for the Egypt 1882 campaign
medal without clasp.
Edward Wilson left Minotaur on 5 Dec & was
drafted to HMS Excellent to qualify in Gunnery.
He qualified as a Seaman Gunner 1st class
(SG1) on 1 July ’83, but whilst on Excellent he
got himself into trouble & was again placed in
the Second class for Conduct on 1 Nov.
His next seagoing draft was to HMS Superb
(Ironclad, Mediterranean fleet) on 13 Dec but
he was only to remain on her until 30 Jan ’84
when he was drafted to HMS Condor (gunboat
of ’76). Condor had distinguished herself
during the bombardment of Alexandria & was
to remain in the theatre for the 1884-85
Soudan campaigns, thus qualifying her crew for
the undated Egypt medal for the Soudan
On 1 May ’84 Wilson was returned to the First
class for Conduct & was promoted to Leading
Seaman(LS) on 29 Jan ’85.
However, with his draft to HMS Condor he was
to see some active service……
Condor supplied 1 Officer (her Commander, Cdr
Domville) & 6 ratings to man one of the
Gardner Gatling guns at General Macneill’s
request for his upcoming expedition to retake
Tamaai during Mar ‘85. Each Gardner guns crew
was made up of 1 officer & 6 ratings.
Wilson was one of those ratings selected for
|Above: HMS Condor was a composite screw powered gun vessel of 780 |
tons.She was armed with one 7” & two 64 pound deck guns. She was in
service from Dec ‘76 –Aug ‘89.Crew of approx 130. All of her career was
spent in the Mediterranean.
The expedition participated in two battles during that time & these are described in the Battles of Hasheen & Tofrek Introduction.
Wilson was very lucky to have survived not only the two engagements (the naval brigade had a 40% casualty rate, killed & wounded)
but also the ravages of heat & disease that was suffered by the expedition. Before the brigade was evacuated on 16 May ’85 many
men had been invalided out due to heatstroke & disease (enteric & typhoid fevers). Death due to disease was endemic to the late
Victorian campaigns in Egypt & other parts of Africa.
Commander Domville & the 6 ratings of Condor were to receive the clasps Suakin 1885 & Tofrek to their Egypt medals. Condor’s
crew qualified for a total of 122 Suakin’85 clasps, many being added to an existing dated 1882 medal (with or without 1882 clasps)
but the majority of the crew rec’d the undated medal for first entry into the theatre.
However, after his active service & Wilson returned to Condor he could not stay out of trouble! He was disrated to AB on 18 Oct &
again found himself in 2nd class for Conduct on 19 Dec for some unspecified offence. This time he was to remain in the 2nd class for
a year, regaining 1st class status on 19 Dec ’86.
Wilson was restored to Leading Seaman on 31 July ’87 & left Condor at the conclusion of her commission on 10 Sep, being drafted
back to HMS Excellent where he requalifed in gunnery & again got himself into trouble for the fourth time in his career. He was again
reduced to AB on 23 Mar ’88 & placed in the 2nd class for Conduct on 24 May, & was to remain there until his engagement expired &
he was discharged to shore ‘time expired’ on 6 July ’88.
His conduct was only rated as Fair for his last two year in the RN. Probably best for him that he got out when he did!
Wilson was not recalled for the Great war (he was 54 in July 1914) & subsequently qualified for a Greenwich Hospital pension in May
1919. He died around 1931.