The Royal Irish Regiment

Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Havelock-Allan VC GCB

Henry Marsham Havelock was born in Chinsurah, Bengal on 6th Aug 1830. He was the Son of Sir Henry Havelock of Indian Mutiny fame, who relieved Cawnpore. Young Henry was recommended for the VC by his father after an incident on 16th July 1857 when he placed himself at the head of the 64th regiment and led them, on horseback but at walking pace, into the direct fire of the enemy 24-pounder gun. He survived shot and grape which could have blown him away at any time in the advance.

Henry's first posting was with the 10th (Lincolnshire) Regiment in which he was serving when he performed his act of bravery. But in 1858 he exchanged into the 18th Royal Irish Regiment as a captain. When the second battalion was formed he joined that and went to New Zealand with them for the Third Maori War. The regimental history of the Royal Irish tells us that he was the only officer of the 18th at the battle of Rangiriri on 20th Nov 1863, serving on the HQ staff as DAQMG with the rank of captain and brevet lieut-colonel. He was constantly mentioned in despatches and seemed to have had no fear when in action.

He was a 1st Baronet and later inherited Blackwell Grange from his cousin Robert Allan, on the condition that he incorporate the name Allan, thus he was subsequently called Havelock-Allan. He served as ADC to the Governor of Canada from 1867 to 1869, and in civilian life he was MP for Sunderland 1874-81 and SE Durham 1885-92. He was appointed Colonel of his old regiment the Royal Irish on 27th Nov 1895 and took the duty seriously enough to sail out to India when the 2nd Battalion was disgracefully recalled from the Tirah campaign following Major-General Yeatman-Biggs's assertion that they were unfit. He lobbied General Lockhart and accompanied him to the Khyber pass where he was shot by an Afridi sniper on 30th Dec 1897. When General Lockhart saw the men of the Royal Irish at Havelock-Allan's funeral in Rawalpindi he decided to re-instate them and send them back on active service.

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by Stephen Luscombe