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Charles Squire By Mr Bob Barltrop

Charles Squire (1) was born in the parish of St. Saviour’s, Westminster on 6 March 1857. At some stage before 1871 he was taken into the St. Saviour’s Poor Law School (Workhouse) as a “Pauper Inmate” even though he had a brother and sister living in Russell Street, London in 1871. Like many in such institutions he enlisted in the army.

Charles Squire enlisted at St. George’s Barracks, London in the 63rd Regiment of Foot on 6 June 1871. He was given the rank of “Boy” and the number 1877. He was stated as being 14 years 3 months old and 4’8½’’ tall and despite having been brought up in the workhouse, Charles Squire was able to sign his name.

At this time the 63rd were in India and so Boy Squire remained in the UK. He was promoted to “Lad” on his 15th birthday in March 1872 and in February 1873 he embarked for India, joining C Company of the 63rd in Hazaribagh, Bengal on 29 March 1873. On 4 November the regiment left Hazaribagh to attend exercises but due to the impending famine in Bengal the regiment moved on “in ordinary relief” and Lad Squire moved to Jhansi on 24 December 1873.

On 18 February 1874 he was injured by an accidental explosion of gunpowder and had to spend 12 days in hospital. Whilst stationed in Jhansi Lad Squire suffered frequently from the climate and had four spells in hospital suffering from “ague” for which he was prescribed quinine.

On 1 January 1875 Lad Squire was promoted to the rank of “Drummer” but in March his continuing ill health meant that on 3 March 1875 the medical board sent him “for the ‘Hills’ at Jhansi” and he arrived 400 miles to the North at Kasauli on 28 March. Squire was transferred to B Company, moved back to Jhansi in the Autumn and was appointed “Private” on 1 April 1876 having been awarded his first 1d/day good conduct pay from 6 March.

In November 1876 Pte Squire and the regiment re-grouped and marched, via Agra and Mattra, to Delhi to take part in the assemblage for the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. Delhi was reached on 20 December in good time for the ceremonies which came to an end during the first week in January 1877.

On 10 January the regiment left for Mean Meer which was reached two days later. Here the regiment remained for almost two years although Pte Squire spent two months at Fort Lahore early in 1878 and then seven months at Dagshai from April 1878. Whilst in Dagshai Pte Squire was appointed Lance Corporal on 13 July.

Back at Mean Meer the regiment, like many others, suffered from fever and all ranks rejoiced when on 16 November 1878 the regiment, including L Cpl Squire, moved to Umballa.

The 63rd Foot played no part in the first phase of the Afghan war in 1878-1879. Even after the campaign resumed following the massacre of the British Embassy in Kabul in September 1879, L Cpl Squire and the regiment remained at Umballa. Only following the news of the disaster at Maiwand in July 1880 and the subsequent threat to Kandahar did the 63rd receive orders to proceed to Quetta to join General Phayre’s Kandahar Field Force.

The regiment was assembled at Quetta by the end of August 1880 and four companies, including L Cpl Squire left there on 26 August and marched to Kandahar which was reached on 20 September. However on 1 September General Roberts had inflicted a complete defeat on the enemy army of Ayub Khan outside the walls of Kandahar. The rest of the regiment were put on convoy escort duties until they joined their comrades in Kandahar on 14 October.

The war in Afghanistan was now at an end and several regiments which had been longest in the field marched to India but the 63rd remained in Kandahar for the winter. Having been awarded his second good conduct pay on 6 March 1880, for some unknown reason L Cpl Squire reverted to “Private” on 8 June but was re-appointed “Lance Corporal” on 16 July 1880.

On 23 April 1881 the regiment furnished the City Gate Guard as Kandahar was evacuated by the British. The next day the regiment, the last British regiment remaining in Kandahar, started its march back to Quetta which was reached on 5 May 1881. Soon after arriving in Quetta L Cpl Squire spent five days in hospital with haemorrhoids. On 21 July the 63rd Foot was awarded the battle honour “Afghanistan 1879-80” and soon afterwards it was announced that in future the regiment was to be known as the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment.

On 29 July headquarters and four companies, were ordered back to the Khojak position, which was reached on 4 August, on account of the unsettled state of affairs in Afghanistan due to the activities of Ayub Khan. However in September Ayub Khan was defeated at Kandahar by the Amir and thus on 15 October instructions were received for the battalion to return to India. L Cpl Squire was promoted to “Corporal” on 7 August 1881. On 27 September Cpl Squire re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the colours.

Four companies were stationed at Sialkot but Cpl Squire was stationed at Amritsar from 19 December 1881. The Battalion’s time in India was coming to a close and on 23 May 1882 it was notified that it would proceed home during the summer. Cpl Squire had been promoted to “Lance Sergeant” on 6 May 1882, and was then promoted to “Sergeant” on 27 July 1882. Sgt Squire left Amritsar in March 1882 and moved to Fort Lahore from where in August 1882, after spending 63 days in hospital with syphilis, he returned to Amritsar before moving to Bombay in August with the rest of the Battalion.

Bombay was reached on the 22 August and the battalion embarked immediately on the hired transport “India.” On the way back to England the battalion was diverted to Egypt to take part in the campaign against Arabi Pasha. The Suez canal was reached on 4 September and the Battalion docked at Ismailia two days later. Here the Battalion disembarked and formed part of the defence of the city. However with the defeat of Arabi Pasha’s army at Tel-El-Kebir on 13 September the campaign practically came to an end.

On 7 October the Battalion proceeded by rail to Alexandria where it met with the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. On 21 October the Battalion embarked for England on the hired transport “Iberia” reaching Portsmouth on 2 November from where the Battalion and Sgt Squire proceeded by train to Warley. On 18 November 1882 the Battalion went by train to London to take part in the review by HM Queen Victoria of the troops who served in the Egyptian campaign.

As a result of the civil unrest in early 1883, the battalion and Sgt Squire were garrisoned in The Tower of London from 27 March 1883. On 16 May 1883 Sgt Squire was admitted to hospital suffering from gonorrhoea. The Battalion returned to Warley on 11 August 1883. It was here on 19 December 1883 that Sgt Squire married Ellen O’Leary.

Sgt Squire and the battalion were again garrisoned at The Tower of London from 18 April 1884 before transferring to Shorncliffe Camp on 28 August. On 1 July 1885 Sgt Squire, after spending two weeks at Hythe, was transferred to the permanent staff of the 4th Battalion Manchester Regiment returning to join the 1st Battalion on 7 April 1887 having been awarded his third good conduct pay on 6 March 1886. On 4 April 1888 the battalion left Aldershot by train for Portsmouth and embarked on “HMS Assistance” bound for Ireland. After disembarking at Queenstown on 9 April, the battalion moved by train to Tipperary. It was here that Sgt Squire was awarded his Long service and Good Conduct Medal.

The stay in Tipperary was unusually long and it was not until 5 February 1891 that the Battalion and Sgt Squire moved to Kinsale. It was here on 5 June 1892 that Sgt Squire was discharged at his own request on completion of his second period of limited engagement. His habits were described as “temperate” and his conduct as “good”. He took with him his Afghanistan 1878-1880 Medal, his Egypt 1882 Medal, his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and his Khedive’s Star.


  • WO97/3930
  • WO12/7303-7307 & WO16/1761, 1886-1892.
  • Wo100/52 & 58.
  • WO102/7

(1) Charles Squire sometimes referred to as Charles Squires