3rd August 1879 - ON THIS DAY IN ROYAL WELCH HISTORY
The death of Lt Col Sydney Millett in Gibraltar whilst in command of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Sydney Millett served with the Regiment in all their engagements throughout the Crimean war. He was also engaged in General Garnet Wolseley’s the Ashanti Campaign in West Africa. Having survived these actions he died in Gibraltar in 1879, apparently of sunstroke. With modern medicine today, it is easy to forget that many more British soldiers were killed on active service across the Empire by illness, disease and accidents than lost their lives in conflict.
Sydney Millett was commissioned ensign, RWF, on 16 June 1854, lieutenant on 21 September 1854 and captain on 30 November 1855, he was present at the battles of Alma and Inkerman and at the siege and fall of Sebastopol and it was during this period that his next of kin is recorded as E. Millett, Maiden Early, Reading.
During the second assault of the Redan on 8 September 1855 he was severely wounded, his left arm being broken. He was awarded the Crimea medal with the clasps, ‘Alma’ , ‘Inkermann’ and ‘Sebastopol’, the Turkish Crimea medal, the Sardinian medal ‘Al Valore Militare’ and appointed to the fifth class of the Turkish Order of Medjidie. Promoted major on 1 September 1869 he was in command of a wing of 2 RWF engaged in erecting and repairing rifle butts at Gravesend. The work was carried out with such speed and efficiency that the battalion was specially complimented by Major-General Freeman-Murray at the parade to mark the occasion at Chatham on 29 March 1870.
He sailed with 2 RWF for the Gold Coast (now Ghana) on 21 November 1873 and was in command of four companies which were landed on 22 January 1874 and marched up country as far as Ahkam Coomassie in charge of stores for the supply of Sir Garnet Wolseley’s column on its withdrawal to the coast.
For his service he was given the brevet rank lieutenant-colonel on 1 April 1874 and was awarded the Ashanti War medal with the clasp ‘Coomassie’. He died, aged 42, ‘of sunstroke’ at Gibraltar on 3 August 1879 after only a few days illness while in temporary command of 2 RWF.
The Times 7 August 1879
a. Lysons, General Sir Daniel, The Crimean War from First to Last, John Murray, 1895
b. Ward, Beatrice (Ed.), Letters of Edwin Utterton from the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny, Privately printed Gibraltar, 1964, pages 10, 14
c. Kirby, Major E. L. (Ed.) Letters of Boscawen Trevor Griffith from the Crimea. Privately published,