SUTLEJ 1845-6, FOR MOODKEE, 2 CLASPS, FEROZESHUHUR, SOBRAON ‘LIEUT. J: FRASER 45TH REGT. N: I:’, PUNJAB 1848-49, 2 CLASPS, CHILIANWALA, GOOJERAT ‘LIEUT. J. FRASER, 45TH BENGAL N.I.’
John Fraser was born in June 1822 at the family estate of Balnain, Invernessshire, the third son of Captain Thomas Fraser, 73rd Foot. Educated at King's College, Aberdeen, and Pension Pernot, Paris, he entered the Bengal Army as a Cadet at Addiscombe, passing his public examination on 23 September 1841. The next day he sailed for India aboard Walmer Castle, arriving at Fort William, Calcutta on 11 February 1842. On 12 May he entered the 45th Bengal Native Infantry as an Ensign and served with the regiment during the Sutlej campaign of 1845-6. Fraser took part in the British victory at Moodkee on 18 December and also the Battles of Ferozeshuhur and Sobraon. During the 1848-9 Punjab campaign he took part in the battles of Chilianwala and Goojerat.
At the battle of Chillianwala, the 45th Native Infantry were part of Brigadier Pennycuicks brigade, who along with the 24th Foot and 25th Native Infantry attacked the Sikh positions with the bayonet. Charging out of the jungle and under heavy cannon fire, these three regiments attacked the Sikh guns and in a short but terrible assault were all but cut to pieces and were forced into a confused retreat. Each regiment would suffer heavy casualties.
During the retreat on the village of Chilianwala, it was 4 Officers and 52 men of the 45th who covered the retreat of the regiment, this resulting in less casualties to this regiment than the other two; the 45th, 600 strong, lost 17 men killed, 5 Officers and 53 men wounded, 3 missing. Post battle, the two Native Infantry regiments felt themselves very hard done by criticism levelled at them not keeping up with the 24th and thus as usually the case, all the glory went to the European troops. As can be seen from the following letter published in the United Service Magazine of 1850, Officers of the 45th (including Fraser), attempted to put the facts straight:
Granted leave between 20 April and 15 October 1849, Fraser explored Simla and the hills north of Deyrah, he qualified as an Interpreter and was appointed Quartermaster of his Corps on 31 December. Fraser returned to England on furlough on 21 February 1852. Promoted to Captain on 10 September 1852, he resigned from the service on 21 August 1854. He married Isabella Wilson, daughter of the Inverness banker James Wilson, in 1857.
Condition, VF or better; light scratches and edge wear. sold with copied research.