The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
PO1 (Captain of the Main Top)
Henry Clark was born on 10 March 1883,
being the third son of James & Elizabeth of
West Avington, Devon. James was employed
as an agricultural labourer.
He entered the Royal Navy on 29 Mar 1870,
aged 17, on board HMS Valiant (Ironclad
Frigate of ’63, employed in Coast Guard
service at Tarbert, River Shannon) as a Boy
2nd class. He was able to read & write, had no
Indenture & was literate. His attestation form
was signed by his mother Elizabeth.

Henry was to remain on Valiant, completing his
Boys training, until 28 July ’73, being
promoted whilst on board to Boy 1st cl on 1
Apl ’71, & Ordinary Seaman on 1 Apl ’73. He
was recorded as TM(Trained Man) on 1 May ’
73. This basically meant he was competent in
seamanship, boat work, sail & cordage
handling, & having received some elementary
gunnery training. He would have received a
pay raise as a TM.
His next draft was the HMS Royal Adelaide(Depot ship Devonport)
from 29 July ’73 to 16 Apl ’74.  On 17 Apl he was drafted to his
first seagoing ship HMS Spiteful(1st class Sloop of ’42). Spiteful
was originally at Portsmouth, having seen prior service on the west
coast of Africa engaged in anti slavery duties. In 1874 she was to
return to the same area where she was to see service up the River
Congo, again on anti slavery duties, into ‘75 & ‘76. On 1 Jul ‘76
she was employed blockading Whydah, the port of Dahomey, from
whence slave dhows were sailing.

Whilst on Spiteful Clark was promoted to AB(Able Seaman) on 26
May ’75, received his first GCB (Good Conduct badge) on 1 Apl ’
76, was promoted to LS(Leading Seaman) on 10 Sep ’76. He left
Spiteful on 6 July ’77 to enter HMS Cambridge (Gunnery ship
Devonport) on 7 July in order to qualify as Seaman Gunner.  He
was to remain on Cambridge until 3 Nov ’78 where he obtained his
SG1(Seaman Gunner 1st class) qualification on 17 Sep ’78. He
then went to HMS Vernon (Torpedo ship, Portsmouth) to take
torpedo training until 21 Dec.

After a brief time at Cambridge until 18 Feb ’79, he joins HMS
Dragon(Sloop of ’78) on the 19th, being on the same day
promoted to PO2 & 2nd Captain of the Main Top.
Clark’s duties would have him in charge of one of the watches on
Dragon maintaining & operating the sails, yards & rigging of the
main mast. His knowledge of seamanship at this time would have
had to be quite good & he would have been competent in all
aspects of sail & rope handling in all kinds of weather.
Dragon was slated for service on the East Indies station assigned
to suppress slavery in the Persian Gulf and east coast of Africa.
She departed Portsmouth in early March.  Dragon was commanded
by Commander Edward Gray Hulton, who appointed Henry Clark
his Coxswain early in the commission.

Being appointed Captain’s Coxswain was quite a desirable
aappointment for Clarke, it meant that the Captain Hulton was
satisfied with his performance in seamanship & boat work &
trusted him enough to appoint him as his Coxswain.
Clark was awarded his 2nd GCB on 1 Apl ’82.
Dragon was to participate in the Egypt campaign of 1882, arriving
in the theatre the day after the July 11 bombardment. However,
Dragon landed members of her crew forming the Naval Brigade
ashore to secure the canal at Suez. Commander Hulton was
appointed: “in command of the field and machine guns of the Naval
Brigade during the occupation of the Suez from Aug 2nd” (Leans
NL). It was quite likely that Henry Clarke accompanied him in these
shore operations. The Naval Brigade occupied the town (of Suez),
the Egyptian troops fled, and the burning of the town, which had
been feared, was averted.  Dragon’s  crew were awarded the 1882
Egypt medal, but no clasp (other than Tel-El-Kebir) was authorized
for the many subsequent 1882 operations ashore.

Whilst on Dragon Clarke was promoted to PO1 on 19 Sep ’82, &
remained in his appointments as Captain of the Main Top & as Capt
Hulton’s Coxswain.
HMS Dragon:  A 6 gun Doterel class barque rigged screw loop,
built at Devonport Dockyard and launched on 30 May 1878.
She served in the East Indies, including the Anglo-Egyptian War of
1882, and the suppression of slavery. She was sold for breaking in
1892. She took part in the Egyptian War in 1882 under the
command of Edward Grey Hulton, landing a naval brigade at Suez.
She was sold for breaking on 24 September 1892.
He left Dragon on 31 Oct ’82 & returned to
Royal Adelaide until 12 Nov when he was
drafted to HMS Cambridge to re-qualify as a
SG. He completed his requalification on 25 Jun ’
83, & remained on as an Instructor until being
drafted to HMS Dryad(Sloop of ’66) on 18 Dec ’

HMS Dryad was assigned to the East Indies
station & the Red Sea to participate in the
1884 Soudan campaigns. Clark was again to
serve with Commander Edward Hulton who
had been appointed Captain of Dryad on 20
Nov ’83.  Capt Hulton again appointed Henry
Clark as his Coxswain.

Commander Hulton was a qualified Gunnery
officer & may have been at Cambridge at the
same time as Clark, & might have requested
that Clark be drafted to Dryad specifically to
serve as his Coxswain.

Upon arrival in the theatre many of Dryad’s
crew went ashore at Suakin. The Naval
contingent consisted of 150 Seamen and 400
Marine’s. They came from a number of ships
lying off Suakin which joined others at Trinkitat
to offload the Expeditionary Force.  Some of
Dryad’s officers & ratings saw action at the
Battles of El Teb & Tamaai on 29 Feb & 13
March, however Clark was not present at
either of these actions. Presumably he was
employed in some capacity with Commander
Hulton at the Suakin base.

Both Commander Hulton & Henry Clark left
Dryad on 10 Nov ’84 to return to UK, Clarke
returning to HMS Cambridge until 27 Feb ’85
when he was drafted to HMS Defiance.  
Commissioned  on 26 November ’84, Defiance
became the Devonport torpedo and mining
school ship. It is likely Clark was sent there as
an Instructor, however his time there was to
end tragically on 17 July, for on that date he
died in Plymouth Hospital of unknown causes,
ie: nothing to indicate on his record his cause
of death. He was 30 yrs , 4 months of age.

Henry Clark should have qualified for a Naval
Long Service medal as he had 12 yrs, 4
months adult service. His conduct during his
career had always been Exemplary or Very
Good. Why he did not receive the medal is

Henry Clark was shown on the 1881 census as
single, presumably he was unmarried at the
time of his death.
ABOVE: HMS Dryad: A 4-gun Amazon-class barque rigged screw sloop, launched at
Devonport on 25 Sept 1866. She had seen prior service in the Abyssinian war of 1866 & on
anti-slavery duties in the East Indies in the 1870`s.  Her last service was in the Soudan
campaign of 1884-85. Sold for breaking up in 1885.

BELOW:HMS Defiance:  Originally 2nd rate ship of 81 guns of 1861. Became the Gunnery
School ship based at Devonport,  commissioned 31 Dec 1884, this photo taken circa 1890.