Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
John was born in around July 1831 in Lanark, Scotland. We don't know anything about his family or his early life.
John joined the Army in June 1850. He enlisted in the 72nd Regiment of Foot and served with them for almost 11 years. We don't know his service number. They were stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1851 until 1854. They then spent a short time in Limerick, Ireland, before moving to Malta in December 1854. They were sent to join the Crimean War in May 1855, but we don't know whether John went with them; he was not awarded a Crimea Medal.
After serving in the Crimea the 72nd Regiment returned to the UK in July 1856. They were sent to India in September 1857 to help put down the Indian Rebellion that had broken out earlier that year. John did not receive the Indian Mutiny Medal, so we again don't know whether he went with them.
The 72nd Regiment were still in India when John left them on the 11th March 1861. He transferred to the 63rd Regiment and was given the service number 618. They were based in Halifax, Canada, but John joined them in Belfast. The 63rd's Depot was based there at this time. By 1865 it had moved to Colchester in Essex.
John's service record only lists 7 months in Malta and 2 years in India as time spent abroad. We believe both these periods of service took place during his time with the 72nd Regiment. This supports the possibility that John was assigned to the 63rd Depot during this time.
John was receiving an extra 2 pence (2d) per Day Good Conduct Pay when he transferred. He was promoted to Corporal on the 12th July 1861. He spent the week of Christmas 1862 in confinement for committing an offence, although we don't know what he did. As punishment he lost 1d per day of his Good Conduct Pay for 1 year.
On the 7th May 1864 John was promoted to Sergeant. The 63rd Regiment returned from Canada to Aldershot in Hampshire in September 1865, so John could have been serving with them from this date onwards. They moved to Glasgow in September 1866 and to Dublin in August 1867. John was promoted to Colour Sergeant on the 12th June of that year.
John left the 63rd completely on the 20th August 1868. He had been assigned to the Haddington Rifle Volunteers. This was a unit made up of civilians who trained as soldiers during evenings and weekends. A small number of experienced Regular soldiers such as John served with each Volunteer unit to ensure they were trained to the correct standards. John lived in Haddington, to the East of Edinburgh, until the 21st October 1870, when he rejoined the 63rd Regiment. He reverted to the rank of Sergeant when this happened.
The regiment had sailed to India 2 weeks earlier, so we believe John again joined the Regimental Depot. In April 1871 this was based in Devonport, Plymouth, and on the 12th June John was also stationed there. John had completed his period of service, so he applied to be discharged. This was approved and he became a civilian on the 27th June 1871, after 21 years and 3 days service. This was enough to qualify for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
When he left the Army John was 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall. He had a 'fresh' complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. John told the Army that he intended to live in Edinburgh Castle. This suggests that he is the John Davidson who was living there in 1871. This man was an 'Army Pensioner' and he was married to Rose Ann Davidson. We don't know when they married. By 1881 the couple had moved to Kirkliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and by 1891 they were in nearby Leith. We don't know what happened to them after this.
John's medal was obtained by the Museum of the Manchester Regiment during the Second World War.