Written after the author had retired from the army into the ranks of the Leicestershire Police, this is a rare worm’s eye view of British military service in India in the mid-19th century. John Ryder was an illiterate working man when he took the queen’s shilling ( he learned to read and write in the army) but, as the editor of his memoirs patronisingly writes ‘though ungrammatical, the bright ore gleamed through the rough earth in which [the manuscript] was encrusted’. The book is indeed a vividly rough and ready acount of the author’s Indian military service, including honest accounts of atrocities ( some by British troops); military actions including the siege of Mooltan; as well as the more ordinary trials and tribulations in the heat and dust of India. An eye-opening account of great value to all those who want a taste of the sweaty reality at the sharp end of life in the armed service of the East India Company.
FOUR YEARS’ SERVICE IN INDIA (PUNJAB CAMPAIGN 1848-49)
A rare personal acount of an ordinary British private soldier’s service in India – covering campaigns against the Afghans and the Sikhs.