United Kingdom

Royal Horse Artillery

Carte-de-Visite, studio Lindley & Warren, Bombay
George William Borradaile
as a Captain in the Royal Horse Artillery (see also this group photograph)

George W. Borradaile was the son of Harry Borradaile, Esq., Bombay Civil Service. Born 13th 1838 at Poona, he was his fourth child (and third son).

He was educated at a private school and at Cheltenham College, then entered the Military Seminary of the East India Company at Addiscombe in 1856, and passed out as a Bombay Artillery cadet in the following year.

George W. Borradaile became a Second Lieutenant in the Bombay Horse Artillery on December, 11th 1857. He was promoted to first Lieutenant on April 27th, 1858. As most of the troops from the Bombay Presidency he didn't see active service during the Indian Mutiny, that was to end by mid-1858.

He was transferred to the Royal Horse Artillery when the HEIC Army was amalgamated in 1862 - the ex-Bombay Horse Artillery becoming the 4th Horse Brigade. The Bombay Horse Artillery Batteries were already organized along the same lines as the RHA, so its operationnal organization was not much affected by the amalgamation.
In 1864 the Horse Artillery was reorganized and the 4th Horse Brigade was renamed E Brigade. 

On 3rd November 1864, at Ahmednuggur, the Reverend E. N. Dickenson celebrated his mariage to Catherine Cornelia Straker ("Kate" to the family, as noted by her portrait - see photograph bottom right), third daughter of the late Charles Doyle Straker, MD, CB, Physician General Bombay Army. They had a daughter, later married to Edmund Charles Cox. catherine Cornelia died in 1912.

On August 3rd, 1865 he is promoted to 2nd Captain in A Battery E Brigade. In 1871, E Brigade was reduced, and its batteries transferred to other Brigades : Batteries A and B batteries were transferred to D Brigade (respectively becoming C and E Batteries), and C and D Batteries transferred to C Brigade (respectively becoming G and H). George William Borradaile is thus affected to C Battery D Brigade now, and will be instructedby Horse Guards to at Woolwich in January 1873 . That Battery, along with the other Batteries of D Brigade (former Madras Horse Artillery), had come back from India in December 1872 (it seems that our man had somehow rejoined England earlier). 

In april 1874, C Battery, D Brigade left Woolwich to proceed for Ireland. In 1875 George William Borradaile is promoted to Major (July 14th, 1875) and leaves his C Battery at Newbridge to be appointed to the command of C battery, 25th Brigade, Royal Artillery, at Devonport.

The regimental rank of Major (suppressed in 1827) had been reintroduced in 1872 in the Royal Artillery, as the rank for officers commanding Batteries, and an answer to the problems of promotion in the Regiment of Royal Artillery. His appointment to a Battery of Royal Artillery as his first command is quite the usual way up : all appointments to the Elite Royal Horse Artillery were Senior appointments, within a Regiment where Seniority was quite the rule.

His Battery is however at once involved in important Field Artillery Experiments at Okehampton camp.

The Times reports :

Okehampton, Aug. 4
(...) The C Battery, commanded by major Borradaile numbers 91 men and 59 horses, with six 16-pounder M.L.R. guns of 12cwt., firing 3lb. of powder. Both men and horses are in excellent condition (...)

Okehampton, Aug. 17
The experiments were resumed yesterday under more favourable circumstances as regards weather than have yet been experienced down here, the day being fine and somewhat more than warm. The object of the trials was to accustom Batteries to manoeuvre over the ground and to use their range-finding instruments with facility.

The Times, Oct 07 1875
(...) We may commence by saying that the Okehampton experiments have been a great success.(...)
(...) the experiments were instituted for the purpose of determining various points connected with the efficient service of our rifled field artillery under conditions as similar as possible to those which may occur on servic, namely :
1. the relative effects produced by the fire of a field battery when the distance is judged by eye and when the range is determined by a range-finder.
2. The results of artillery fire against the most recent formation in which troops will attack, and the nature of projectile which, under different conditions of ground and distance, may be expected to produce the maximum effect.
3. The effect of artillery fire against artillery matériel both in the open and when protected by gunpits (...)
The manner in which the battery served their guns on this occasion deserved the admiration of all whow itnessed it. Indeed, the shooting of both the batteries at Okehampton- namely, E Battery E Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, commanded by Major Holberton, and C Battery 25th Brigade Royal Artillery, commanded by Major Borradaile- leaves now little to be desired. These batteries, moreover, were not specially selected, but were taken because they happened to be stationed nea the spot - the Horse Artillery at Exeter, the field battery at Devonport. We may, therefore, accept them as fairly representing our Field Artillery when they joined the camp on Dartmoor. Now, however,they have gained an experience the value of which it would be difficult to over-estimate.(...)
Let us hope, therefore, that the Okehampton experiments will prove an epoch in the history of Field artillery instruction, and that the present trials will only be the first of our Annual Artillery Manœuvres.

Carte-de-Visite, the Alexandra Studio, Sheerness on Sea
G.W. Borradaile as a Major in the Royal Artillery

By 1879 George William Borradaile had been appointed back to the Royal Horse Artillery : The Times, Oct 07 1879, reports an inspection by the Duke of Cambridge of the troops at Woolwich, stating that Major G.W. Borradaile was now in command of E Battery, C Brigade, R.H.A. In May 1880 his battery was transfered from Woolwich to Canterbury.

The following year Major Borradaile's Battery was ordered to proceed to Natal to take part in the first Boer War in Transvaal. The Battery embarked the Persian Monarch in the Royal Albert Docks, North Woolwich, on March 15 1881. The Battery, arriving from Canterbury, embarked full strength with 199 Non Commissioned Officers and men, six nine-pounders muzzle loading guns, 10 wagons and 203 horses, and 900 rounds of ammunition for the guns. The British government had however  signed a truce on March 6, and the final peace treaty was to be signed on March 23, 1881 (giving the Boers self-government in the Transvaal under a theoretical British oversight). Major Borradaile's Battery, en route to Natal,  was ordered back to England on April 6. As in 1858 George William Borradaile had nearly taken part in a conflict.

He didn't have to wait long for another opportunity : the following year saw his Battery (now renamed N Battery A Brigade after the early 1882 reorganization) ordered to Egypt :

The Times, August 5 1882
The first departure of troops from Southampton for the expedition in Egypt took place yesterday, when the N Battery A Brigade Royal Horse Artillery embarked on board the Tower Hill (Transport No.7), a fine steamer of 4,021 gross tonnage, commanded by Captain Barnett. (...) The total strength on board consists of 14 officers, 179 men, 176 horses, six guns, and six wagons. (...) 

The Tower Hill reached Alexandria on August 16. The Battery was soon to be engaged : in the first fight of the campaign, on August 24th, near Tel-El-Mahuta, two of the guns of  N Battery, under Lieutenant Hickman, distinguished themselves on the Sweet Water Canal :
"This infinetesimal detachment of English artillery held at bay the 12 Egyptian guns, and were reported by Lord Wolseley as having repulsed infantry attacks both in front and on the flanks during the day. The good stuff of which the men were composed was shown by the fact that, when exhausted by their labours under the awful heat of the sun above andits reflection from the sand, they had water poured on their heads and again faced the enemy" (The Times, jan , 1883)
The guns were 13-pounders muzzle loaders. The Battery was attached to the Heavy Cavalry (also comprising three squadrons of Household Cavalry,the 4th Dragoon Guards, and the 7th Dragoon Guards), and the remaining four guns were in support at Mahsamet. Onthe 25th they prepared by their fire the moonlight charge of the Heavy Cavalry.

On September 9th the Battery took part in the action at Kassassin and battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

The campaign was short lived, and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Borrdaile was mentioned in the september 24 1882 despatch by the General Officer Commanding in Egypt, Sir Garnet Wolseley :
"18. General Drury-Lowe also speaks in the highest praise of Lieutenant-Colonel G.B.(sic) Borradaile, Royal Horse Artillery, who ably commanded the battery permanently attached to his division."

The N Battery A Brigade embarked on board the Tower Hill  in the beginning of October on their way back, reaching Portsmouth on October 18th.

George William Borradaile was thus at last entitled to his first Campaign Medal (with Tel-el-Kebir Clasp). The Medal Roll tells us that he was presented his Medal by the Queen. He was also appointed "Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Third Class, or Companion, of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath" on November 17, 1882. He was presented the Order by the Queen on November 23. He was also awarded the Khedive Star, and the third class order of the Medjidie. 


Back to their garrison town, N Battery A Brigade were entertained at a grand banquet by the Mayor and citizens of Coventry on  November 2, "covers being laid for about 400, including 145 of the men and officers".

4 officers and 58 men were later selected to take part in the November 18 London review by the Queen of the troops engaged in the Egyptian expedition, a parade that was branded "a brilliant success" by The Times - though they regretted that the Battery went at a march and not at the trot or gallop. On this occasion the detachment was mounted and used the guns of M Battery, A Brigade, stationed at St. John's Wood.

George William Borradaile sailed back to India, where he later took the position of Assistant Adjutant-General , Royal Artillery, Bombay - an appointment he would vacate in march 1889. He was placed on the Indian Supernumerary List on July 24, 1891. He retired on a pension and extra-annuity on September 28, 1894.

George William Borradaile, C.B., J.P., died at Altons, Beaconsfield, in february 1927, in his 89th year.

Carte-de-Visite, studio TW
Carte-de-Visite, studio Maull & Polyblank, London

Thanks to Allister Hardiman, Paul Frecker and James Hanafin