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Master Gunner James Whittington.png

Whittington would see a good deal of active service during the Indian Mutiny, in the Crimea, and Abyssinia. He was present at Sebastopol in the Crimea with No. 3 Company, 11th Battalion, Royal Field Artillery and earned the Crimean War Medal with the “Sebastopol” clasp as well as the Turkish Crimean War Medal.

Some of his adventures during the Mutiny were recounted in the long titled Centurions of a Century: Among which are many who have soldiered in the Twelfth, or the Suffolk
Regiment of Foot
by Lieut.-Col. C. H. Gardiner (1911).  It was in action at Bithoor with No. 13 Battery that Whittington laid his gun with the skill and coolness of an expert rifleman and killed the war elephant from which rebel leader Nana Sahib was directing his troops. The expert shot brought about the general dispersal of the disheartened rebels even if Nana Sahib himself survived the fall of his mount and escaped the battlefield on horseback.

Whittington’s discharge papers state his entitlement to the Indian Mutiny Medal with the clasp “Central India” although the photograph clearly shows his medal with two clasps.
I have been unable to find his entry(s) in the mutiny medal rolls to confirm the nature of the second clasp.

His final active duty campaign was under Sir Robert Napier with No. 25 Battery in Abyssinia (1867-68). For his part in this almost casualty-free expedition, Whittington was entitled to Abyssinia Medal.

In this 1907 photograph, Whittington clearly has six medals (along with a rosette ribbon probably indicating him as a dinner honoree). The first four are his previously mentioned
Abyssinia Medal, Indian Mutiny Medal, Crimean War Medal, and Turkish Crimean War medal. The last two medals are a mystery.  Although details of the medals are indistinct
they may be the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and possibly the Meritorious Service Medal. Whittington’s Military History Sheet is missing from his service papers and it may have offered clues as to the nature of these last two medals.

In the previously mentioned Centurions of a Century the author Lieut.-Col. C. H. Gardiner mentions meeting Whittington and states that the old master gunner was in possession of eight medals including the Distinguished Conduct Medal which had apparently been awarded to him retroactively for his service during the Indian Mutiny. I searched my copy of Recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal: 1855-1909 by P. E. Abbott (1975) failed to find mention of Whittington being awarded the DCM for his service in India during the mutiny. A note in the 31 March 1908 issue of Parliamentary Papers shows Whittington being granted a £10 allowance for “Distinguished or Meritorious Services”.

James Whittington seems to have been married at least twice. The first time was in 1862 when he married Catherine Whiteside at Woolwich. Sometime around 1896, he married
Jane and the couple would have at least three children: Agnes (b. 1897), Albert (b. 1899), and Frederick (b. 1901).

The old master gunner appears to have passed away at his home at St. Helen's, Isle of Wight in early 1912.

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