Clifford Henry Mecham

This photo by Felice Beato, taken during or soon after the Indian Mutiny, shows a gaunt Lieutenant Mecham of Hodson's Horse in his early thirties. He can also be seen in British and Native Officers 1858 wearing the same uniform. The jacket is probably dark blue with black cord frogging. His kummerbund is red.

Mecham was born on 24th Sept 1831, the son of Capt George Mecham of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and his wife Harriett. His baptism is recorded in the parish register of Melcombe Regis, Dorset, 21st Feb 1832 but his parents later moved to St Helier in Jersey. He was educated at Cheltenham College from April 1845 to June 1847. After that he had private tuition in Jersey where he met Sidney Jones-Parry who he was to meet again in India. Jones-Parry wrote his memoires in later life and mentions Mecham several times.

Mecham and Jones-Parry joined the same regiment, the 52nd Madras Native Infantry. Mecham joined his regiment as an Ensign on 9th March 1849 at Vellore. He was an artistic and musical man. He played the flute and had a book of coloured lithographs published, taken from drawings he had made at Lucknow and Alambagh. Whilst playing the flute under a tree one day he heard Parry-Jones calling for help and found him struggling in ten feet of water in a well. He hauled him out and thus saved him from drowning. Mecham's career then took the following course:

12th Dec 1849 Posted to 27th Madras NI at Trichinopoly.
Dec 1851 went with regiment to Mangalore
Dec 1854 Went with regiment to Mercara in Coorg
12th Feb 1856 Appointed Adjutant of Infantry, Oudh Irregular Force.
25th March 1856 Posted to 7th Oudh Irregular Infantry
25th July 1856 Acting Second in Command 7th Oudh Irregular Infantry.
23rd Nov 1856 Promoted to Lieutenant.
June-Nov 1857 Active in the defence of the Residency at Lucknow
1857-58 With 1st Madras Fusiliers during occupation and defence of Alambagh
13th June 1858 Wounded at Nawabganj whilst serving with Hodson's Horse
August 1858 Adjutant of 2nd Regiment Hodson's Horse
12th Oct 1858 2nd in Command of 3rd Regiment HH.
March 1859 2nd in Command of 2nd Regiment HH
13th May-24th June 1859 Commandant 3rd Regiment HH
June 1959- March 1861 Sick leave in Europe
11th Oct 1862 Promoted to Captain
April 1863-Sept 1864 Commandant 9th Bengal Cavalry
July 1865 Duty with 10th Bengal Cavalry
12th Sept 1865 Died of hepatitis, aged 33, at Kalka

Mecham only served a few days under Hodson before the latter's death. The new Commandant of Hodson's Horse, Henry Daly, made him adjutant. He was badly wounded at the battle at Nawabganj along with Lieut. Fraser and two Indian officers. On an earlier occasion, on 17th Feb 1858, he injured his back when he fell from a tree.

When he took command of the 9th Regiment he joined them at Cawnpore and then moved with the regiment to Peshawar. The record states that he was removed from the command of the regiment but does not say why. He appears to have been unemployed between Sept 1864 and April 1865 when he did general duty at Ambala. His illness and imminent death gave him time, on 3rd August 1865, to make a will leaving his money to his two brothers and two sisters.

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by Stephen Luscombe