Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

George Eagle

George Eagle :

George Eagle : Egypt Medal

Egypt Medal

George was born in around October 1861 in Rickmansworth, near Watford in Hertfordshire. He was christened on the 24th November in nearby Chorleywood. His father was called Joseph and his mother was Eliza. He had an older sister who was also called Eliza and at least 4 younger siblings: William, Ann, Sarah and Joseph. The family were members of the Church of England.

In 1871 the family lived at Hog's Back on Guildford Road in Wanborough, Surrey. Both of Georges' parents worked as agricultural labourers. By the time he was 18 George also worked as a labourer, but he must have wanted more from his life because on the 6th November 1879 he joined the Army in Aldershot, Hampshire.

When he enlisted George was 5 feet 6 inches tall. He had a 'fresh' complexion, light blue eyes and light brown hair. He joined the 16th Brigade, made up of the 63rd and the 96th Regiments of Foot, and was given the service number 2383. He joined the 96th Regiment in Aldershot, Hampshire.

We don't know much about George's time in the UK. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 11th September 1880 and then to Corporal on the 12th January 1881. The 96th Regiment continued to be based in Aldershot until they were sent overseas to Malta on the 10th March 1881.

On the 1st July the 96th Regiment was renamed the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. George was promoted to Sergeant in his new unit on the 4th January 1882 and that August he went to war in Egypt.

The Anglo-Egyptian War had broken out in June after the pro-British Khedive was deposed. Britain wanted to protect its commercial investments in Egypt, as well as the Suez Canal, which gave access to India.

The 2nd Battalion sailed to Alexandria aboard HMS Euphrates, and arrived on the 17th August. The war ended in September with the British restoring the Khedive to power, but having much more control over the country. George left Egypt on the 13th October for Multan in what is now Pakistan, again aboard HMS Euphrates.

George would serve in India for the rest of his time in the Army. Like many soldiers he struggled with the Indian climate. During the autumn of 1894 he was hospitalised on 3 separate occasions suffering from a fever. Between the 17th and the 25th September and the 30th September and the 26th November his condition was assessed as 'mild' and he was treated with Quinine. On the 11th December though, George suffered a 'severe' fever that kept him in hospital until the 2nd January 1885.

The 2nd Battalion moved to Rawalpindi, today in northern Pakistan, during mid 1885, and by February 1886 George was stationed in Agra, central India. He spent 2 months from the 25th April in Pachmarhi, a hill-station to the south, and then returned to Agra. The climate still seems to have affected George. He was hospitalised again during April 1887 with a severe fever that was 'followed by debility'.

Once he recovered George joined the 2nd Battalion in Chakrata, in the foothills of the Himalayas. He still suffered with fever though, and spent the period between the 12th May and the 30th June in hospital. He was discharged on the 30th June but readmitted a week later. As well as suffering from fever George now also had nephritis of the kidney, known at the time as Bright's disease. He would remain in hospital in Chakrata until the 5th September 1887 when he was moved to Meerut for further treatment.

By November George was showing signs of improvement, but no sooner had he recovered from his kidney condition he was struck down with an abscess on his liver. This was tapped and a drainage tube inserted, but by March 1888 it was clear that he could not continue in India. He returned to the UK the next month and was sent to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, near Southampton.

There George was treated for an abscess on his kidney as well as assessed to see whether he was well enough to remain in the Army. The answer was no so he was medically discharged on the 31st July after 8 years and 269 days service.

George had obtained both the 3rd Class and 2nd Class Army Certificates of Education during his service. His character and record was 'exemplary'.

We don't know what George did once he returned to civilian life. By 1891 he was the caretaker of Pleasant Row Soldier's Home in Gillingham, Kent. He lived there with his wife Eliza. We don't know when they married or whether they had any children.

The rest of George's life is a mystery. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1949. As well as the Egypt Medal George was also awarded the Khedive's Star for his Army Service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council