|GUNNER'S MATE GEORGE READ
George Read, a native of Lymington, was born in the early l820’s. Based on the rating he held in 1857, he probably had
several years' duty in the Far East prior to the beginning of the Second China War. He was discharged at Woolwich on 14
October 1861, being then attached to H.M.S. Punjab, part of the Bombay Marine. Only his activities in the late l850s have
been found, as represented by his medals. His General Number was 1774.
Unlike the medal for the Second China War issued to the Royal Navy, the medals awarded to the men of the Indian naval
forces were impressed with full naming details, including the name of the ship served on. George Read served aboard
H.M.S. Auckland in Chinese waters, where it was mainly engaged in fighting pirates and helping to protect British trade.
The Auckland was quite active in the early phases of the conflict, encountering and destroying many war junks.
When the Indian Mutiny broke out, all Indian Navy ships were immediately ordered to India, their crews then being formed
into Brigades for fighting ashore. H.M.S. Auckland was one of the first ships to arrive at Calcutta to provide men for that
Upon reaching India, the men of the Auckland were placed on the strength of H.M.P.V. Calcutta. Between June 1857 and
May 1858 large numbers of officers and seaman of the Indian Navy and bodies of men recruited from merchant ships had
been dispatched up country, where they were scattered without any proper supervision or means of obtaining pay or other
assistance from their ships. To correct this situation, one of the tenders of the “Semiramis” was detached from that ship
and was anchored off Fort William. Captain Campbell of the “Semiramis” hoisted his pendant, and she was placed on the
strength of the Indian Navy as the Pendant vessel “Calcutta.” A native crew was put on board, and all detachments of the
Naval Brigades were placed on her books for pay purposes. Suitable offices were provided for the Captain and his staff
in the fort.
Gunner’s Mate George Read was assigned to serve in the No. 3 Indian Naval Brigade under the command of Senior
Lieutenant H. Batt. According to Captain C. R. Low’s History of the Indian Navy, the men of the No.3 Brigade proceeded
up river on the Ganges in the small river steamer Jumma to help forestall entry by the mutineers into the Goruckapore
District. At Berhampote, along with H.M. 90th Regiment, they disarmed the disaffected Sepoys of the 63rd Bengal Native
Infantry and later fought a six hour engagement with rebels below Fort Kallykunka. Eventually, they relieved the Naval
Brigade of H.M.S. Pearl under the command of Captain Peel at Buxar, enabling that Brigade to proceed to Lucknow. At
Buxar, in August of 1858, they assisted in defeating a strong force of rebels.
Although 61 men were shown on the medal roll for the No. 3 Brigade as being entitled to receive the Indian Mutiny medal ,
only 28 men, including Read, are noted as having actually been issued the medal. All of the recipients received the medal
(IOR L/MAR/C/7281 ;C.R. Low, History of the Indian Navy)