|Lieutenant Rudolph Edward Lisle March Phillipps de Lisle was born 23 November 1854 one of sixteen children of Ambrose Lisle March
Phillipps de Lisle and Laura Maria Clifford.
He attended Oscott College prior to joining the Naval Academy at Gosport. He then served "aboard" the HMS Britannia receiving his
commission as Midshipman in July 1868.
He served briefly on board the HMS Victory (1868) then on the HMS Bristol on board which he first traveled overseas visiting Gibraltar, Malta
and Sicily (1868-69)
He then served on the HMS Cameleon (1871-1875) being promoted Lieutenant on 14 March 1873. After spending some time ashore at the
Naval College, Greenwich (1875-76) he was posted to the Mediterranean Squadron then the Pacific Squadron on board the HMS Shannon
(1879-1881). While serving on the Shannon he was able to closely observe the war between Chile and Peru which he documented in his journals
and a series of well executed watercolour paintings some of which can be seen in the book The Royal Navy & the Peruvian-Chilean War,
1879-1881: Rudolph de Lisle's Diaries & Watercolours (2008) edited by Gerard de Lisle.
The 3 December 1878 edition of the Times states that De Lisle was assigned as a Lieutenant to the HMS Shannon. (Of interesting note is the
statement in the same Times column titled Naval and Military Intelligence that No. 5 Company Royal Engineers and a certain Lieut. J. R. M.
Chard R.E. as having been posted to South Africa. This is of course before Lieutenant Chard would achieve immortal fame and a Victoria Cross
as the defender of Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.)
Returning to England for another stint at the Naval College (1881-82) and while there he completed a course of torpedo instruction on the HMS
Vernon. He was next assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron once more eventually serving on board the HMS Alexandra (1883-85).
As an officer on the HMS Alexandra he was serving with the Naval Brigade during the Gordon Relief Expedition when he was killed along with
his shipmate Lt. Pigott at the Battle of Abu Klea when the Gardner gun under their command jammed and was overrun by the Dervishes on 17
January 1885. The fighting at Abu Klea was exceptionally brutal. Due to the coiled brass casings used by the British Martini-Henry rifle jams
became constant during the fighting and Lord Charles Beresford stated in his account of the battle that officers spent most of their time clearing
these jams in rifles that were being passed back to them from the front of the square. Beresford also noted that the Mahdists had no such
trouble because they were armed with American made Remington rifles that used solid drawn brass cases. Beresford also mentioned that in the
hand to hand melée which took place around the Naval Brigade's Gardner gun every man with the exception of himself had been killed and that
de Lisle had "...his whole face cut clean off."
Lieutenant de Lisle was buried on the field where he fell along with the other British casualties of the battle. For his service de Lisle was
entitled to the 1882-89 Egypt Medal with clasps "The Nile 1884-85" and "Abu Klea" and the bronze Khedive's Star.
The period ink inscription on the reverse side of the photograph shown below identifies de Leslie and states that he died "...in the heroic
attempt to save Gordon and Khartoum..." and that he was 31 years old at the time of his death.
(Photographic Copy of an Original Oil Painting)
9 inches by 6 3/4 inches (22.8 cm x 17 cm)
J Burton & Sons - Photographer