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Resplendent in his mess dress uniform, Veterinary Lieutenant Alfred Joseph Haslam poses for the photographer in Manchester during one of his visits home. Casually posed photographs such as these belie the varied adventures and sometimes tragic fates of soldiers and officers in Her Majesty's service.


The family origins of Alfred Joseph Haslam are somewhat uncertain and after repeated attempts, I have been unable to determine exactly who his parents were. Based on the 1891 census of Scotland he seems to have been born at Halifax, England on 27 November 1863.


He attended medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland (New Veterinary College) graduating with high honors in April 1884. He joined the Army Veterinary Department in February 1885 and one short month later found himself at Suakin, Sudan, and seems to have been attached to the Suakin Field Force then operating under the command of General Sir Gerald Graham, VC. During his time in Sudan, Haslam found time to publish several articles concerning the health and care of camels which appeared in publications that included the British Veterinary Journal (July 1885 and Vol. XXII, 1886). He remained with the British garrison at Suakin after the withdrawal of the Field Force until 11 March 1887, when he proceeded to India. Oddly, I have not been able to locate his name in the rolls for either the Egypt Medal or the usually associated Khedive’s Star.


While in India, Haslam again wrote a number of medical articles, this time on various equine maladies. He traveled to England on extended leave on 20 November 1889, returning to the subcontinent on 9 July 1891. In September 1892, Haslam was attached to the Isazai Field Force during the punitive expedition led by Brigadier A. G. Hammond. Little fighting occurred during the march against rebellious North West Frontier tribes. No medals or clasps were issued for this expedition. Haslam remained in India until 28 November 1893.


On 1 June 1897 Haslam was seconded to the Uganda Railway Service as transport officer. He proceeded to Natal Colony, South Africa, to purchase mules of the Uganda Railway. While there, he took part in a conference held to discuss the outbreak of rinderpest that was raging through the colony. Temporarily assigned to the East African Protectorate at the personal request of the Consul General in Zanzibar, he lent his expertise in preventing the spread of several cattle-born epidemics that had crossed into Masailand.


In July 1898, Captain Haslam attempted to join a small local expedition that had set out earlier to punish several Wakikuyu villages that had been raiding for cattle. Accompanied by three armed men and a number of bearers, Haslam’s small group was attacked by a larger Wakikuyu force near Dongo Sabuk on 28 July. His bearers fled and the four armed men were quickly killed after a brief fight. Haslam is said to have fallen with a spear thrust to the back. His much-mutilated body was found four days later by Captain Cooper and Dr. White. Captain Alfred Joseph Haslam was buried at a small, now almost forgotten cemetery at Fort Smith, near what is now Kabete, Kenya. Today only two other nearby graves still exist there, that of William Alfred Harrison, who was killed by a loin in October of 1898, and that of Captain Robert Henry Nelson (d. 1892), who had previously traveled with Henry Morton Stanley. Both Haslam and Harrison rest beneath identical tombs (now partially buried) that were raised by the Uganda Railway Service.


Haslam’s death may, in fact, have been partly due to his being a veterinarian. In his book, The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson: How an Irish Lion Hunter Led the Jewish Legion to Victory, author Denis Brian tells how Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Patterson (of the lions of Tsavo fame) knew Captain Haslam and believed the Wakikuyu may have killed him after observing him dissecting dead cattle and suspecting him of practicing witchcraft.


The National Probate Calendar 1899 lists Sarah Steinthal as his widow and mentions him being attached to the 3rd Hussars at the time of his death.


Alfred Joseph Haslam M.D., F.R.C.V.S. was promoted as follows:


Veterinary-Lieutenant – 4 February 1885.

Veterinary-Captain – 4 February 1895.

Seconded for Service in Uganda – 1 June 1897.


Mounted Photograph

4 Inches by 5 5/8 Inches

(10 cm x 14.3 cm)

Augustus Frederick Alfred Lafosse - Photographer

Manchester, England

April 1888

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