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Major Henry Shelley Dalbiac

He was born in June, 1850 and became a famous athlete, a daring steeplechase rider, a contributor to many sporting papers as well as having a brilliant military career.

He was educated at Eton and as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy won the horse race, "the Bugle", and indeed won the trophy again at the age of 49 when it was open to all previous winners. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1871 and was promoted to Captain in 1881. He was with Lord Roberts in Afghanistan and took part in the famous Kandahar march, being twice mentioned in despatches.

He served in the Egyptian War of 1882 and was severely wounded at Tel-el-Kebir. His activities during the Egyptian War are the subject of Rudyard Kipling's poem 'The Jacket'. He later served in India between 1883 and 1887 whereupon he resigned his commission as Major and returned home.

In February 1900, with British forces fareing badly in the Boer War, he re-joined the Army and took an active part in raising the 34th Company (Middlesex) Imperial Yeomanry before embarking with them for South Africa. May 25th was to be a fateful day for him. The following is an account from the Military History Journal of how he died at the the skirmish of Senekal.

' Dalbiac was a man of reckless bravery, who had fretted in the absence of serious fighting, and now thought that his chance had come. He gathered some men about him and, with a few from two cossack posts, ascended the spur. Less than thirty men rode up, two of whom were wounded during the ascent. They rode towards the sound of firing and came to within 100 metres of the Boers, the latter having taken up positions just beneath the crestline of the spur. The force quickly dismounted and an order was issued to save the horses, most of which were shot. Dalbiac was killed soon afterwards, shot through the neck. He was found next to the fifth pole of a telegraph line passing over the spur. The body of Major Dalbiac was later brought down into the town. The funeral of four British soldiers took place the following afternoon (26 May 1900) in the Senekal cemetery. The kits of the men killed were put up for auction. The belongings of Maj Dalbiac were offered first and were arrayed on the ground for all to examine.The bidding was spirited from both the officers and other ranks.'

The above painting of Major Dalbiac on horseback is by Peter Dennis and shows him in his Royal Artillery uniform, Tel-el-Kebir, August 1882.