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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 250

A Battle of Tofrek casualty's Khedive's Star awarded to Private J. Burton, 1st Battalion Berkshire Regiment, who was killed in action during the engagement

Khedive's Star 1844 (1 Bks 1948 T B), good very fine

Joel Burton was baptised at Upavon, Wiltshire in 1859 and enlisted with the 41st Brigade at Newbury, Berkshire in November 1879. Posted to the 49th Foot just prior to their amalgamation to 1st Battalion, Berkshire Regiment in 1881 he joined the unit in Egypt the following year. Still stationed there the next year he received an Egypt Medal for his service in the country.

The Battalion returned to Egypt late in 1884 in order to join the Suakin expedition under General Graham, landing there in January 1885. They formed part of General McNeill's column which marched to Tofrek to build a zeriba, protecting a supply cache for the main British advance on Tamaai. Here the column was surprised by a major Dervish counterattack which caused a stampede amongst their baggage animals.

Under the cover of this stampede the Mahdist troops penetrated the zariba, breaking one of the Sikh Regiments and getting inside the two redoubts and the South-East and North-West of the position. The South-Eastern redoubt was garrisoned by half of the Berkshires and while the rest were stationed outside the Northern redoubt, cutting brush for the zariba, Private Charles Duggan of 'A' Company describes the scene, stating:

'"A" Company had started to cut down and bring in the mimosa trees to strengthen the zereba in places and I joined up with them. I guess it was the second trip from the zariba - we were near the cutting again when we saw two Indian scouts on horseback rushing in and hollaoing.
C/Sgt. Ford understanding the "bat" ordered us to double back and never mind our coats. We got out brace straps over our shoulders, fastened our belts, and seized our piled rifles - my right pouch fell off my belt, so having no time to put it on, I had to load my [rifle] from my left pouch. Many men were not there to get their rifles so we dropped them on the ground.
Lieut.-Col Huyshe rode over to us and ordered Lieut. McClintock to take his Company to the far corner of the square.
Pte Geelan and I found ourselves together in battle. We made for Joe Burton, who was lying on his stomach leaning on the zariba. I placed the helmet on his head, the sun being so hot. We did not know whether he was dead or alive and with the enemy coming on fast, halloaing their war cry and flags flying, we could do no more. A big gap in the hedge which had closed up at the top, but left the bottom wide open, told the tale, a frightened horse had broken loose, rushed through the zereba, and kicked Burton to death.
It was a surprise to us at roll-call to find that we had six men killed and six men wounded. We suffered the most of any Company involved.'

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