67th Bengal Native Infantry
Brenton Halliburton Smith was born at Liverpool on
the 15th of April, 1835, and baptized at St. Andrew’s
Church on the 18th of June. He was the son of
Alexander and Shophia Sherbourne Smith of Toxteth
Park. Alexander Smith was a successful businessman
involved in trade with Australia.
Brenton was nominated a cadet for the East India
Company Military Seminar at Addiscombe for the
1849/50 Season by HEIC Director George Lyall on
the recommendation of William Forsyth. He was
commissioned an Ensign in the Bengal Infantry on the
20th of August, 1851, and posted to the 67th
Bengal Native Infantry.
The 1850s were an active period for officers of the
Bengal Army. Within a decade of receiving his
commission, Brenton Smith participated in three
different military campaigns and was to receive an
equal number of campaign medals. Ensign Smith did
not have long to wait before seeing his first action
with his regiment.
The East India Company had become concerned over the Burmese government’s placing of restrictions on British merchants’
ability to trade in Burma, breaches of the Treaty of Yandabo signed at the end of the 1st Burma War. This and other
perceived and real insults to the authority of the East India Company finally could no longer be tolerated. Lord Dalhousie,
Governor General of India, in early 1851sent a squadron to Rangoon under the command of Commodore Lambert carrying
correspondence to the Burmese King. Receiving a hostile reception upon his arrival in Rangoon, Commodore Lambert ordered
all British subjects in Rangoon to board the ships of his squadron and, in a show of force, seized a Royal vessel belonging to
the Burmese King. So began the Second Burma War.
Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India, and Red with Two Blue Stripes, by Col. B.A.H. Parritt, list one hundred men
of the 67th as part of the force under Major H. Cotton which attacked and took the city of Pegu in June of 1852. Whether
Ensign Smith was part of this force is unknown; if not, he was with the remaining companies of the 67th which were part of
the force under the command of Sir John Cheape, K.C.B. sent from India as reinforcements in September of 1852. The
67th B.N.I. was actively involved in the remainder of the Pegu campaign and very active in the so-called “pacification
program" that was to follow. The 2nd Burma War followed the now familiar pattern of a fairly rapid victory against
the opposing military forces followed by a long guerrilla war.
Brenton Smith received the India General Service medal with clasp for Pegu for his services during the Pegu campaign,
named to him as an Ensign in the 67th B.N.I. His medal was sent to him in India in February of 1855. The 67th B.N.I.
was awarded the battle honour “Pegu” for the campaign.
Brenton Smith was promoted Lieutenant in the 67th B.N.I. on the 8th of December, 1853. Lieutenant Smith was granted
two years leave to visit Australia, presumably to see his father, beginning on the 15th of May, 1857. This furlough was not
destined to happen as the Indian Mutiny began on May 10th, 1857, when the sowars of the 3rd Light Cavalry rose against
their officers at the military cantonment at Meerut in northern India. The Mutiny soon spread as additional Bengal native
regiments mutinied. At the time of the Mutiny, the 67th B.N.I., was stationed at Agra. On the 31st of May, the native
troops of the Regiment were suspected of being disloyal and were disarmed.
Without employment with his regiment, Lieutenant Smith’s services during the early part of the Mutiny are difficult to
trace. It appears he may have been posted to do duty with the 11th B.N.I. Given his later employment during the Mutiny,
this seems plausible as although the 11th B.N.I. mutinied at Meerut on May 10th, approximately 125 native soldiers of the
regiment subsequently returned to Meerut and gave themselves up. They were pardoned and at their own request were
employed as District Police, stationed at Meerut. These loyal members of the 11th B.N.I. were reported to have performed
importance services during the Mutiny and many were killed in the line of duty.
In August of 1858, Lieutenant Smith was appointed to do duty as Adjutant of the 1st Oude Military Police. The Oude
Military Police generally acted as mounted infantry during the Mutiny and participated in the campaign to capture the
notorious Nana Sahib.
For his services during the Indian Mutiny, Lieutenant Smith was awarded the Indian Mutiny medal, without clasp, officially
named to him in the correct style as a Lieutenant in the 67th B.N.I. and as Adjutant of the 1st Oude Military Police.
In February of 1860, Lieutenant Smith was posted to do duty with the 23rd Punjab Regiment (Pioneers) as one of eight
officers attached to the Regiment for service in the Second China campaign. The Regiment proceeded to China under the
command of Captain R.H. Shebbeare, V.C. (who unfortunately died from illness during the campaign.) On June 15th, Brenton
was promoted to Captain in his own Regiment, although he continued to serve as a Lieutenant in the 23rd Punjab Regiment.
The 23rd Punjab Regiment served at the landing on the 1st of August, 1860, at Pei-tang, the occupation of Pei-tang on the
2nd of August and the reconnaissance on the 3rd of August. On the 12th of August the British and forces advanced from
Pei-tang, meeting considerable resistance from the Chinese. The Regiment then took part in the attack on Tang-ku the
14th. The 23rd Punjab Regiment participated in the capture of the Taku Forts on the 21st of August, for which they
were awarded the battle honour “Taku Forts 1860”. On the 18th of September the force attacked and took the walled
city of Chang-kia-wan. Finally, the Regiment was involved in the advance on Pekin and the surrender of the Pekin on the
9th of October. The Regiment received the additional battle honour “Pekin 1860” for its part in the attack on the city.
For his service, Brenton received the 2nd China War medal with clasps for Taku Forts 1860 and Pekin 1860. Following
the China campaign, Captain Smith returned to duty with the 67th B.N.I. in India, having by then served in three campaigns
within ten years. He was 27 years of age.
Captain Brenton Smith, late 67th Bengal Native Infantry, died of convulsions at Meerut, India on the 3rd of March, 1866.
He was 31 years old. Captain Smith was buried the next day in a service presided over by Chaplain John Sharkey.
|Above: Smith is the man standing at the far right in the back row. To the left of him|
is Lieutenant Douglas and sitting right between them is Lieutenant Tottenham. They
were all officers in the 67th Bengal Native infantry and all were posted to the 23rd
Punjab Pioneers for the 2nd China War.
The photo of Smith shown left is copyright the British Library. It was taken sometime
after Smith's return from China as he is wearing dress miniatures for three medals.
The black arm band may have been for the death of Prince Albert in December of
1861, as it was somewhat the fashion to wear them.
The officer in the middle identified as Lt. Douglas is Lieutenant H. McD.
DeW.Douglas and H.L.A.T. is Lieutenant H. L. A. Tottenham, all late 67th N.I.