Young William Mayne greatly distinguished himself in the bloody but successful defence of his garrison in that war, and he was there to see the grim disaster that ended it. On 13th January 1842 a lone Scotsman, Dr Brydon, exhausted and on a failing horse, was brought into Jalalabad fort by William (a scene recorded in a famous picture by Elizabeth Butler). Brydon was the only survivor from the garrison at Kabul of 4,500 British and Indian troops and their 12,000 camp followers who had been slaughtered by the Afghans or had frozen to death in the deadly cold of the mountain passes. For many days anxious eyes continued to scan the horizon from the walls of Jalalabad on which by night fires were built and bugles sounded. No other survivor came.
Such was William's grisly introduction to warfare on the North-West Frontier. It was the start of an exciting career during which four major wars and many subsidiary campaigns were fought on the Indian sub-continent. William was in the
These Maynes had originally come from Lochwood in Lanarkshire and had moved near Stirling in the 15th century. They were farmers and fighters both. Maynes had fought and fallen at Flodden in 1513 and had been in every Scottish battle since. It was William's great grandfather with his 22 children who founded what became a Mayne dynasty. Thanks to a fortune provided him by his bachelor brother in Portugal he was able to settle his growing family on the great estates of Powis and Logie on the southern slopes of the Ochil Hills overlooking the Forth. A fortunate family indeed were the Maynes of Powis who were described as being "set amid well-watered fields, comfortable and well-stored farmsteads and cottages". A generation later the Maynes became sick of home comforts and began to flock into India. There for the next two centuries Mayne son followed father, and nephew followed uncle in the service of the Empire. Few of them returned home.
The wife and five young children of Henry's brother Frederic, a chaplain at Simla, were only saved from death at the hands of the mutineers by hiding for many hours in her husband's church. She was fortunate. A contemporary description of the aftermath of the first massacre at Meerut reads, "What a spectacle of terror met the eye almost simultaneously with the return of day. The lifeless and mutilated corpses of men, women and children were to be seen, some of them so frightfully disfigured and so shamefully dishonoured in death that the very recollection of such a sight chills the blood". Another brother, young Augustus Mayne of the Bengal Horse Artillery, was killed during the relief of Lucknow. He was a comrade of the great Lord Roberts who, on finding his body, "took his dear friend Mayne out at early dawn and dug his grave and buried him in his blue frock-coat and long boots, and as they laid him there, leant down and fixed his eyeglass into his eye as he always wore it in the heat of the fray. His grave now lies on the seventh fairway at Lucknow Golf Course, a cause of great frustration to golfers".
On Rupert's last visit to India he met a pensioner from Mayne's Horse, a very old man who proceeded to bury his white beard on Rupert's chest and sobbed. Eventually the old man recovered and pulled up his trousers to show a very badly wounded knee. He explained that in a charge in Mesopotamia he had been hit by a Turkish bullet, had fallen off his horse and that Rupert's uncle, Ashton Mayne, had dismounted and carried him off the field. Of course such memories will soon fade and the Mayne memorials will crumble, but perhaps something of the tradition of the Scottish Maynes in India for courage, sacrifice and originality will survive.
|Henry Mayne||Augustus Mayne||Ashton Mayne||Mosley Mayne||
Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames | British Empire on Ebay