The subject of this cabinet photograph is identified on its reverse side as No. 5637 Lance Corporal E. May of "E" Company, 2nd Battalion, the Royal Scots. In this photograph, May wears two good conduct stripes on the left cuff of his white tropical tunic which indicate that May had already served at least five years with the colours when this photograph was taken. The stripes are surmounted by a crossed rifle marksman's badge.
When I failed to find May's service records it occurred to me that he may have died while in service. This possibility was reinforced when I found a General Records Office Army Death Index record for an Edward May (no regiment stated) who died at Bombay (Mumbai), India in 1907 at the age of 31. The connection with this Edward May and the soldier in the above photograph was confirmed when I found a corresponding entry in the Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 that listed No. 5637 Private Edward May of the 2/Royal Scots
dying on 22 September 1907 at Bombay (Mumbai). While no cause of death is given in the Register it does mention that May was born in Lyndhurst, Hampshire and was a watchmaker prior to his enlistment on 5 February 1896. Interestingly his rank in the Register is given as private which means that at some point between when this photograph was taken (September 1902) and his death in 1907, May had been reduced in rank possibly for some now long forgotten infraction or perhaps the appointment simply expired.
The future Private Edward May was born about 1874 to Edward and Ann May. The elder May was also a watchmaker.
When he died at Bombay (Mumbai), Private May left a sum of £13-12-9d to his father. Added to this amount as an army gratuity of an additional £12.
F. B. Stewart - Photographer