|The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
WILLIAM LUSCOMBE EASTHER, BA, RN.
William Luscombe Easther was born on 21
June, 1851 in Beverley, St Nicholas,
Yorkshire, the youngest son of Charles &
He was baptised on 29 Aug. Charles was
Chaplain of the Beverley Union & Master of
Beverley Grammar school. William had an
older brother, George Edward.
The family resided at 104, Keld Gate,
William was fortunate enough to have
attended university at St John`s College,
Cambridge, from 7July `71 where he
graduated with B.A. in Nov 1875.
He entered the Royal Naval College,
Greenwich in Jan `81 as a candidate for
Naval Instructor, & was commissioned on 7
Dec `81. A Naval Instructor was equivalent
to a Lieut. RN.
His first appointment was HMS Euryalus(Iron Corvette-Cruiser of
`77 & Flagship of Vice Adm William Hewitt, East Indies station)
which he joined on 1 Jan `82. The duties of a Naval Instructor
would be to instruct the Officer cadets & Midshipmen in all
theoretical & academic subjects required to enable then to pass
their examinations for Sub Lieut at the RN College. He might
also be involved with instruction of ratings as well, especially
those wishing to increase their education certificates. In this he
would be assisted by the Naval Schoolmaster (a Petty Officer
rating) carried for this purpose.
HMS Euryalus was involved in the Egypt campaign of 1882 &
1884 in the Red Sea theatre of operations. William received the
1882 dated Egypt medal. He was also involved in the operations
in an around the port city of Suakin during the 1884 Soudan
campaign, being employed as Supervisor of telegrams during
the operations at Suakin(Lean`s NL). He was awarded the
Suakin 1884 clasp to his 1882 Egypt medal. *
Leaving Euryalus on 23 July `85 he was assessed by Captain
Hastings as: ``A good Naval Instructor. His professional
knowledge was graded as VG(very good) & he was of Temperate
His next appointment was to HMS Volage(Corvette of `69)`.
Volage was part of the Training Sqdn & William joined her on 25
Sep`85, & only remained on her until transferring to HMS
Bellerophon(Ironclad central battery Battleship of `65) on 15
Dec. Bellerophon at that time being refitted with new guns &
was destined to replace HMS Northampton on the North America
& West Indies station. She left Plymouth on 18 Jan `86, sailing
for Madeira, Cape St Vincent and the Cape Verde Islands, and
en route experienced a nor'-west gale.
Arriving on station in Apl she picked up Vice Adm Sir George
Watson, Flag Officer of the NA & WI station, and some of the
small corvettes on station, and made an inspection of the
southern division, before heading north to Bermuda and Halifax
for the spring and summer.
William`s duties would have been similar to those on Euryalus,
Bellerophon carrying a full complement of 20 Midshipmen. He
was over three years on Bellerophon, leaving her on 1 Apl `89.
He was graded for Professional Knowledge as (VGI)Very Good
Indeed, & he was of Temperate habits.
HMS Bellerophon - Ironclad Battleship of
1865. Armed with 10 - 9" Rifled
Muzzle loadingguns, plus 5 -7"deck
guns. She was the first ironclad to be
fitted with the9" guns.
Complement of 650 officers & ratings.
She had a long career, finally being
sold for scrap in 1922.
HMS Australia - Orlando class Armoured
Cruiser of 1886. Armed with 9.2"
Breach loaders, plus 10 -6" deck guns.
Sold for scrap in Apl 1905.
HMS Edinburgh - Ironclad Battleship of
1882. Edinburgh was the first British
battleship since HMS Warrior(1860), to
carry breech loading artillery as
part of her main armament. She carried 4
- 12" guns centrally mounted in
echelon,plus 5 -6" guns & 20 smaller
calibre deck guns. Complement - 400.
In 1908 she was converted for use as a
target ship, being fitted with fully
backed and supported modern armour
|HMS Euryalus at Malta HMS Euryalus under sail|
HMS Euryalus - Iron screw & sail powered Corvette of Jan 1877. Armed with 4 - 7" Rifled Muzzle loading guns plus 2 -84
pound deck guns. Complement of approx 420 officers & ratings. Flagship of the East Indies station in 1878.
Participated in the Egypt 1882. Flagship in the Red Sea during the Soudan 1884 campaigns. Went into reserve in 1885.
William must have had some health problems for he was admitted to Haslar Hospital on 2 Apl. His stay was extended on 22 Apl as he
was suffering from Locomotor Ataxy (being the inability to precisely control one's own bodily movements. Persons afflicted with this
disease may walk in a jerky, nonfluid manner.)
On 11 Jun he was reported unfit & was to be re-suryeyed (re-examined) in 3 months. On 11 Sep he was reported as fit.
On 2 Oct he was granted 47 days full pay leave from 21 Apl.
During this period Capt Clark requested from the Admiralty:
`10 May `89 -``Capt Clark asked for an explanation as to reporting W. Easther not of temperate habits.`
Then the following day - `Capt Clark states his reasons: excessive wine bills and large daily consumption of spirits.`
Thus Capt Clark was certainly aware of William`s drinking problems.
Then(undated) – MDG(Medical Director General) states disability in part measure attributable to former irregular habits.`
It appears as if William had some drinking problems whilst onboard HMS Bellerophon that were reported after he had left her. No
outcome is recorded on his record.
However, he then remained ashore on half pay until his next appointment being to HMS Australia(1st class Cruiser of `86) on 19 Nov
`89. Australia was part of the Mediterranean fleet.
He remained on Australia until being Invalided off on 25 Dec `90.
This time he was graded for Professional Knowledge as VGI, but for Temperate Habits he was given a No. So he definitely had some
drinking problems that were noticed & reported upon whilst on board Australia.
On the same day he is appointed to HMS Edinburgh(1st class Battleship of `82, Mediterranean fleet), why, considering his condition, is
unknown. However, he managed to survive on Edinburgh for almost 10 months.
On 9 Oct`91 he: `refused to be superceded from Edinburgh on account of private affairs.`
Then on 15 Oct `91 he was Invalided for Albuminuria(can be an indicator of damage to the kidneys or excessive salt intake. It can also
occur in patients with long-standing diabetes). He was graded for Professional Knowledge as VG, & for Temperate habits, again, No.
On 4 Nov he was: `resurveyed by the MDG and reported unfit for further service.`` On the same day he was: `placed on the retired
List unfit for further service. Unfitness probably induced by over indulgence in alcoholic stimulants.` &`Placed on the retired List on 3
shillings per day Retired pay under Orders in Council of (dates follow).`
William Luscombe`s retired pay was 54 pounds, 15 shillings per yr.
On 26 Apl `92 `he was informed that as his Retired pay was under 80 pounds per year, he cannot be allowed to assume any part of it.
He died in Cardiff on 15 Mar `97, aged 45yrs, 9 months. How long he was an alcoholic is unknown, but I would estimate that his
drinking likely started during his naval service, probably as soon as he joined Euryalus, but he was able to keep his drinking either
under control or fairly well concealed until 1889.
He certainly had a promising career & might have done well had he not developed a drinking problem. As he died quite young it is
possible he remained an alcoholic for the remainder of his life.
William`s father Charles died on 8 May 1892, aged 74. At the time he was vicar of Kirkham.
*Any campaign medal to a Naval Instructor would be considered rare. As NI`s generally were only carried on larger ships (battleships &
cruisers) medals to them are seldom seen. In the 1885 NL there are 24 NI`s, of which 7 have seagoing ship appointments. In the 1892
NL there are 25 NI`s of which 8 have seagoing appointments, meaning approx. one third of all the NI`s actually served at sea, & of
course their ship would have to have served in a campaign theatre for the NI to qualify for the respective campaign medal.