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Sgt Patrick Riordan.png

Cabinet Photograph
Frederick Argall - Photographer
Truro, Cornwall, England
c. 1892

A veteran acting sergeant major of what appears to be either "E" or "F" company of the 1st (Duke of Cornwall's) Rifle Volunteer (1st D.C.R.V.) which was based in Truro, Cornwall. The 1st D.C.R.V. was in effect the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

This soldier saw active service in Egypt before serving with the volunteers as evidenced by the medals on his chest. The first medal partially obscured by his cross belt would be the Egypt Medal. The second and most notable is the Distinguished Conduct Medal. After this comes the Khedive's Star and finally a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal or volunteer service medal.

The following information has been kindly provided by Mr. Graham Stewart:

"The gentleman is in fact 'the acting sergeant major' of the 1st D.C.R.V. The reason for this is I noted his rank, which denotes four chevrons, above which is a crown and he's also carrying a Rifle pattern sword, which denotes the rank and privilege of a 'Warrant Officer Class 1'. Under normal circumstances, a Sgt Major in the regulars would wear his four inverted chevrons(i.e. point up), with the crown above on the right cuff of his uniform. However the large
Austrian knot prevented this on Volunteer uniforms and so they were a worn point down above the right elbow."

According to Volunteer Regulations, the S.M. was appointed by the C.O. of the unit from those Colour Sgt Instructors serving with the unit on the permanent staff, who were actually regular Colour Sgt's on secondment to the Volunteers.

Further research may shed light on this sergeant's identity. 135 DCMs were awarded during the Egyptian/Nile campaigns (1882-1889) and narrowing these down to men who may continue to serve in the volunteers after leaving the regulars may prove worthwhile.

Mr. Neil Boulton has kindly provided the following information about this man's possible identification:

"I've just been looking at the above picture on your site (where incidentally he seems to have 4 stripes rather than the usual 3 of a sergeant) The unit in question was of course a Volunteer Unit associated with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI).

As you say, 135 DCMs were awarded for the Egypt/Sudan campaigns of the 1880s. Of these, 6 were actually to soldiers of the DCLI. And of these 6, I can find only one who was also a recipient of an LSGC. He was 557 Sgt Patrick Riordan of 2/DCLI (Mounted Infantry). Awarded DCM for Mahsama 24.8.82 and Kassassin 28.8.82

He was recommended for the LSGC on 1.10.1894, at which time he was a Col-Sgt at the DCLI depot. I can also confirm Sgt Riordan on the Egypt medal roll (clasp for Tel-el-Kebir), and the Khedive's Star roll. I'm not of course saying the photo is Sgt Riordan, but he's certainly the chief candidate. Only man of the DCLI to have that medal combination. Would need more research to confirm if he served in the volunteers or not after leaving the regulars."

The above information provided by Mr. Stewart and Mr. Boulton would seem to point to this man actually being No. 557 Colour Sergeant Patrick Riordan of the D. C. L. I. Naturally this identification is tentative pending further research.

Having found the service papers of No. 577 Patrick Riordan DCM, Colour-Sergeant of the
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry I have concluded that the man pictured is indeed Riordan as his attestation documents show him being posted to the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, DCLI as a Colour-Sergeant on 6 February 1892 and later with the same rank in the 1st Volunteer Battalion (1st D.C.R.V.) on 22 June 1892.

Riordan attested with the old 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot at Clare Castle on 14 July 1876 at the age of 18. He was described as being 5 feet 6 3/4 inches tall with a fair complexion, hazel eyes, and sandy hair.

His promotions were as follows:

Private - 14 July 1876
Lance-Corporal - 1 December 1878
Corporal - 15 February 1879
Lance-Sergeant - 7 February 1881
Sergeant - 1 April 1881
Colour-Sergeant - 1 December 1883
Re-engaged - 19 November 1887
Posted - Sergeant, 3rd Vol. Batt. DCLI - 27 July 1889
Colour-Sergeant - 6 February 1892
Posted - Colour-Sergeant, 1st Vol. Batt. DCLI - 22 June 1892
Discharged - 13 July 1897

Riordan's overseas service included:

Bermuda - 22 October 1876 - 21 October 1880
Gibraltar - 16 February 1880 - 13 July 1882
Malta - 14 July 1882 - 19 July 1882
Egypt - 20 July 1882 - 16 June 1886

He took part in the 1882 Egyptian campaign (serving with the Mounted Infantry) and was wounded at Tel el Kebir(clasp "Tel-el-Kebir" to his Egypt Medal) and would receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his part at the actions at Mahsama and Kassassin. He would also take part in the Gordon Relief Expedition earning the additional clasp "The Nile 1884-85" to his 1882 Egyptian Campaign Medal. He would also be awarded the Khedive's Star later
adding the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

Riordan was born in 1858 in Kilmallock, Limerick, Ireland. He was married to Elizabeth Julia Elliott at the church of St. Mary and St. Boniface, Plymouth, Devon on 23 February 1890. In 1891 the census shows him as a Sergeant of the DCLI living at Bodmin Barrack with his wife and widowed mother-in-law Kate Elliott. Ten years later the 1901 census has him now living at the Staff and NCO Quarters at the New Gramby Barracks and Devon Militia Artillery Depot
again with his wife and an 11-year-old girl - Kate Eunice Elliott - who may have been a niece. Here his occupation is listed as "Barrack Warden A.S. Corps". This position - usually held by military pensioners - was responsible for the care and supply of military barracks.

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