INDIA GENERAL SERVICE, 1895-1902, CLASP, PUNJAB FRONTIER 1897-98 ‘LIEUT. E. D. WYLIE 32 PIONEERS’
Lieutenant Edward Dalton Wylie (1876-1897) was born on 5 August 1876 at Chakrata, Uttaranchal, India, the second son of Melian and Major-General Henry Wylie C.S.I., Resident of Nepal, brother of Gordon Macleod Wylie. He was Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Indian Army on 22 January 1896 and was appointed Wing Officer 32nd Punjab Pioneers in April 1897. He served with the 32nd Pioneers during the Punjab Frontier campaign of 1897-98 but died of ‘enteric fever’ (typhoid) on 5 October 1897 at the Officers’ Hospital in Kohat. He was 21 years old.
Lieutenant Gordon Macleod Wylie was born in India on 27 October 1873, the eldest son of Melian and Major-General Henry Wylie C.S.I., Resident of Nepal, brother of Edward Dalton Wylie. He was Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant Indian Staff Corps (unattached) on 28 January 1893 and was appointed to the 1st Battalion, 2nd (Prince of Wales's Own) Gurkha Regiment (the Sirmoor Rifles) in May 1894. Appointed officiating Wing Officer to the 2nd Battalion in September that year, he was promoted Lieutenant on 28 April 1895. After a period of sick leave in England in 1887, in august that year, Lieutenant Wylie, along with one other Officer and 108 OR’s volunteered for service with the first 1st Battalion, which was set for active service on the Punjab Frontier. Appointed Wing Officer in the 1st battalion, the battalion joined Colonel Lawrence’s Infantry Brigade on the Frontier in early September. Moving on to Samana Ridge and then to Fort Lockhart, the battalion prepared itself for the forthcoming advance into the Tirah in October 1897.
Now forming part of the 3rd Brigade under Brigadier General Kempster, the battalion were in action during the initial attack on the Dargai Heights on 18 October. However it was during the second assault on the 20 October that the 1/2nd Gurkhas would lead the assault. Sustaining heavy casualties within the first few minutes, the battalion would be pinned down, before reinforcements from the Gordon Highlanders and 3rd Sikhs came up. The Gordon’s lead another assault joined by the 1/2nd Gurkhas and the remnants of the first assaulting force and the heights were finally taken. The British had suffered 208 casualties, the 2nd Gurkhas suffering by far the highest number with 67 Officers and men killed and 5 wounded.
Over the next month, the 1/2nd Gurkhas were constantly involved in patrols and skirmishes but on the 16 November, the Brigade was ordered back to its base at Maidan. It was during this retirement, whilst the 1/2nd Gurkhas were serving as the rear guard, that the Afridi attacked and the rearguard was forced to retire under heavy and accurate fire. This over the most difficult of terrain. Shortly before reaching safety, Lieutenant Wylie, who was at the time taking cover, slightly exposed himself to give orders to his men but was instantly shot in the head and killed. He was 24 years old.
It is hard to imagine the hammer blow the Wylie family must have felt hearing of the death of their two eldest sons in such quick succession... SEE PDF FOR LARGER WRITE UP…
A total of 287 Officers and men were killed and 853 were wounded during the Tirah campaign.
Condition EF, with original ribbons. A superb and emotive pair of medals. The medal to Lieutenant Gordon Macleod Wylie is particularly rare being one of only 23 medals to British Officers killed during the Tirah campaign, this being one of two to 2nd Gurkhas Officers.