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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 255

A tragic Battle of Kirbekan casualty's Egypt and Sudan awarded to Private J. Riley who was mortally wounded during the fighting

Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, undated reverse, 2 clasps, The Nile 1884-85, Kirbekan (1778. Pte. J. Riley 1/So:Staffs:R.); slight edge bruise to first overall good very fine

Note the South Staffordshire Regiment suffered 6 men killed in action and 24 wounded at Kirbekan.

James Riley enlisted in Ireland on 8 May 1879 and saw Home Service for two years before being ordered to Malta in 1881, seeing service between Egypt and there until 1883. The next year the Battalion was ordered to join the Nile expedition in 1884, here they joined General Earle's River Column, a small force of around 1,000 men. They found their path blocked in February 1885 by a significant Mahdist force holding the heights of Kirbekan.

The British plan centred around a flaking attack by six companies of the South Staffordshire's and Royal Highlanders while the rest of the Staffordshire's launched a feint on their left. The ruse worked and the Dervishes were driven from the feature with significant losses while the British suffered comparatively few. These did include the General himself who was killed during the final moments of the action.

The Battalion suffered losses of 6 killed and 24 wounded during the fighting, including Riley who died of his wounds two days later. His two bars were issued the year after his death and added to a new undated medal as his original, sent to his family on his death, was no longer available. This original medal was later found and returned to the mint on 20 January 1898, making this the only extant medal to this recipient; sold together with copied casualty lists, medal rolls and allowances book extracts.

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