Military Service Record (1883-1904)

James Michie, uncle of Ellen Ann Fraser MacNiven Michie - Generation 3.

During the Anglo-Egyptian War (1884-1889), James served with the Nile Expedition Force despatched to relieve Major-General Charles George Gordon whose troops were besieged in Khartoum, Sudan. For 20 year old James, the burial of 10,000 soldiers and civilians massacred inside the walls of the fallen city, must have been soul destroying. After spending 134 days (4 months) in Egypt, James was approved as a Lance Corporal and awarded the 1885 Egypt Medal and the Khedive's Star.

He next served overseas for around 5 years, at the base hospital in Gibraltar. During this time, he was promoted to Sergeant. Shortly after his return to Britain, James was convicted of negligence when he failed to report to his Commanding Officer after disobeying an order to send an army form by post. His punishment was demotion to Corporal. 

Around the time he was married with a child on the way, James was convicted of embezzlement for misappropriating public goods and hospital property. His punishment was demotion to Private and a fine of £11 2s 0d (£911 today). It is not known why James risked his livelihood so soon after his previous conviction. After re-engaging with the R.A.M.C. for a period of 21 years, James served in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

This was a hard fought guerrilla war against a disciplined and capable enemy, the Boers, who were excellent marksmen and horsemen. Often without food and water, and in a weakened condition, James was fortunate not to have contracted typhoid which killed thousands. The hard-won medals he was awarded, were the Queen’s South Africa Medal (1899-1902) and the King’s South Africa Medal (1901-1902). This was the final campaign during which James entered a theatre of war.

In the end, James was discharged as a Lance Corporal at the end of his period of engagement. His career never fully recovered from his convictions. Between 1904 and 1919, as a Chelsea Pensioner and druggist (a qualified compounder of medicines) James settled with his family in Netley Abbey, Hampshire, England. Following the deaths of his sons Charles Michie (1894-1918) and James Michie (1896-1915), James worked as a Steward for the 'White Star Line' on board the ocean liner 'Olympic'. Following the cessation of World War I (1914-1918) hostilities, he made an average of fourteen transatlantic voyages each year.

James retired from the Mercantile Marine Service on 19 August 1929, and died 8 months later on 27 April 1930 at the age of 65 years.

Note: If you would like to know more, or have information that improves this history, we would love to hear from you.

E5 James Michie Military Service.jpg