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Edward Tierney

by Bob Barltrop

Edward Tierney was born in Barnsley around April 1860, the son of Michael Tierney, an Irish labourer in the local iron works and his wife Elizabeth.

After working as an iron sheet roller, Edward Tierney volunteered for six years of Army service and six years in the Army Reserve.

He enlisted as a private in the 96th Regiment of Foot at Ashton-Under-Lyne on 23rd April 1881, having had a medical four days earlier, and was given the number 2717.

He gave his age as 21 and was 5’6” tall with brown eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was a Roman Catholic and had lost several teeth. The 96th at this time was in Malta.

In July 1881 it was announced that the 63rd and 96th Regiments would form, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Manchester Regiment in the 63rd Regimental District with headquarters at Ashton-Under-Lyne.

On 26th December 1881, possibly as a result of over exuberant Christmas celebrations, Pte Tierney was confined in jail for three days before being tried by court martial which resulted in him losing a 21 days’ pay.

Pte Tierney embarked from the UK on HMS Jumna to join his battalion on 13th January 1882 arriving in Malta on 24th January.

For months there had been unrest in Egypt and Arabi Pasha, the Egyptian war minister had more or less taken control of the Egyptian army from the Khedive.

On 11th June 1882 hundreds of civilians, mainly Christians and Europeans, were massacred on the streets of Alexandria. Although the guns of the European warships, then in the port of Alexandria, bombarded the forts of Alexandria, military intervention was demanded.

An expeditionary force of 25,000 men was detailed from England and Malta and Pte Tierney and the 2nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment left Malta on HMS Euphrates on 14th August and landed in Alexandria three days later.

The battalion bivouacked at the Gabari railway station before establishing headquarters at the Khedive’s Ras-El-Tin Palace and other companies were placed throughout the city.

During the two months of the campaign the 2nd Battalion remained in Alexandria but, following the defeat of Arabi Pasha’s army at Tel-El-Kebir on 13th September, the campaign practically came to an end.

On 24th September the 2nd Battalion furnished two guards of honour on the occasion of H.H. the Khedive’s return to Cairo.

On 7th October the 1st Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, which had been sent to Egypt from India, proceeded by rail to Alexandria and then marched to the Khedival Palace at Ras-El-Tin where it met up with the 2nd Battalion.

On 14th October Pte Tierney and the 2nd Battalion embarked from Alexandria on HMS Euphrates and HMS Adjutant bound for India. Pte Tierney sailed on the former and landed at Bombay on 30th October.

After being concentrated at Deolali, Pte Tierney and the 2nd Battalion proceeded by train to Umballa on 7th and 8th November but left Umballa on 21st November to march to Multan, which was reached on 1st January 1883.

On 13th June 1883, Pte Tierney was presented with his Egypt Medal 1882 by Brigadier General H.H. Gordon, CB and his Khedive’s Bronze Star on 25th July.

The battalion remained in Multan for three years during which time Pte Tierney had seven spells in hospital – one for a sprain, one for scabies, three for ague, one for fever and one for gonorrhoea.

On 19th January 1884 Pte Tierney was awarded his first 1d per day good conduct pay.

On 10th March 1885 Pte Tierney and the battalion left Multan by train for Rawalpindi which was reached two days later. Here some 18,500 troops had assembled for a grand durbar which was attended by the Viceroy and the Amir of Afghanistan.

On 11th April 1885 Pte Tierney was promoted to lance corporal but later that month, following news of a totally unprovoked Russian attack on an Afghan post on the Khusk River, preparations were immediately made for war.

L/Cpl Tierney and the battalion returned to Multan on 14th April on a war footing but in September the crisis had passed and they were stood down.

During the next winter the 2nd Battalion was ordered to take part in exercises, leaving Multan on 9th November to march the 371 miles to Umballa which was reached on 11th December.

However L/Cpl Tierney got an ulcerated hand and did not reach Umballa until 29th December 1885. These exercises were the largest seen in India up until that time and culminated with a review in Delhi on 21st January 1886. L/Cpl Tierney and the battalion left Delhi on 25th January 1886 and arrived at Agra on 5th February after a march of 140 miles.

Apart from minor manoeuvres, the battalion remained in Agra for four years. For some now unknown reason, L/Cpl Tierney reverted to the rank of private on 28th April 1886.

Pte Tierney continued to suffer from the climate and had two further spells in hospital in 1886 with fever/ague. He also continued to be troubled by his ulcerated hand as he spent 48 days in hospital in Agra in the spring of 1886 and, whilst stationed for six months in the British Army cantonment in Chakrata from April 1887, he was again admitted to hospital with severe eczema to both arms and hands.

He also spent 25 days in hospital here with a badly sprained ankle which occurred by accident while off duty.

Pte Tierney was awarded his second good conduct pay on 23rd April 1887 before returning to Agra on 4th November 1887.

While in Agra Pte Tierney elected to remain in the Army for a further six years but whilst the 2nd Battalion remained in India until 1898, Pte Tierney left India to return to England early in 1888 and took up responsibilities in the Regimental Depot where he remained until his final discharge to the Army Reserve on 22nd April 1893 having served 12 years with the “Colours.” On discharge his character was described as “very good.”

WO97/4026 – Soldiers’ papers
WO16/2862-2863, 1761 & 1893 – Muster Rolls and Pay Lists.
Census 1871 (Barnsley)

Medals of Edward TierneyMedals of Edward Tierney