Privates No. 4533 Arthur Ponder and No. 4479 Alfred Richardson of the 2nd Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment as they appear in a set of memorial cabinet photographs that were probably produced for members of their battalion after the tragedy at the Fallelie Canal at Hyderabad that took both their lives on 20 June 1902.
As noted on the printed captions pasted to the lower part of the two photograph's mounts, No. 4479 Private Alfred Richardson (above right) drowned at Hyderabad while attempting to save the life of No. 4533 Arthur Ponder (above left) who had somehow become distressed in the waters same canal. While I have been unable to locate the service records - in most cases service records for men who died while in service no longer exist - for either of these two soldiers I did obtain certified copies of both of their death certificates which established to which regiment - 2/Suffolk - they both belonged, the exact location where the accident occurred - the Fallelie Canal as well as their ages - both 23 8/12 years old.
How the tragedy unfolded is lost to history but had Richardson been successful he would no doubt have been awarded a life saving medal such as those issued for such actions by the Royal Humane Society. Had his action been successful and had it taken place while on active duty in the face of the enemy he may have been recommended for the Victoria Cross as Private Samuel Wassall of the 80th Regiment was in the aftermath of the disaster at Isandlwana during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
While it is possible that an account of this event made still be found in a regimental history these two photographs may well be the only reminders of this long ago and all but forgotten episode of tragedy and courage.
Even though Richardson's and Ponder's actual service records have remained elusive some details of the military careers and family life can be gleaned from the Army Registers of Soldiers Effects 1901-1929. These ledgers were compiled mainly to settle the financial accounts of deceased soldiers but also contain such information and place of birth, next of kin, date of enlistment, civilian occupation, and date and place of death.
Private Arthur Ponder was born about 1879 at Great Cornard, Sudbury, the youngest of three children of David and Ellen Ponder. The younger Ponder attested with the 2nd Suffolks on 28 December 1896. After his untimely death, Private Arthur Ponder's army account was settled for a total of £9-18-10d with £6 of that being what appears to have been a death gratuity. His father David was listed as the beneficiary.
Private Alfred Richardson was born about 1879 at Sawston, Cambridgeshire to George and Amelia Richardson. In the 1881 Census for Sawston Alfred is shown with the middle or nickname of "Willie". He had attested with the 2nd Suffolks on 28 October 1896 and left his father George a total of £9-18-7d.