Colonel Manners Charles Wood

1Colonel Manners Charles Wood

Colonel Wood furnishes yet another instance of an Officer who was gazetted to the Infantry in the first place, but finding the Cavalry arm more congenial, obtained a transfer to the Tenth, and eventually commanded the Regiment.

He was appointed to an Ensignsy in the 44th Foot (Now the First Battalion, Essex Regiment) on the 1st September, 1869, but was transferred on the same day to the 66th Foot, (Now the 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.).

He was promoted Lieutenant on the 2nd October1871, and transferred on that rank, to the Tenth on the 15th April 1874; he obtained his troop on the 2nd February 1878, promoted Major on the 2nd April 1882, succeeded to the command, on the retirement of Lord Downe, on the 3rd August 1892, and on completion of his period of command, retired on half pay on the 3rd August 1896, as full Colonel.

His total service, all of which was purely Regimental service, was 26 years 337 days. Of this 22 years, 111 days were served in the Tenth.

He accompanied the Regiment from Rawal Pindi in the Afghan campaign of 1878-79 and commanded his troop (“B”) at Fattehabad on the 2nd April 1879.

On this day a force consisting of “A”, “D” and “B” Troops, Tenth Royal Hussars, under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Lord Ralph Kerr, two squadrons of the Guides Cavalry, and “I” Battery of “C” Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, the whole under the command of Brigadier General C. Gough, proceeded from Fattehabad towards Lukhai in consequence of reports made by a reconnoitring party previously sent out under Lieut. C. D. Rose, of the Tenth.

The enemy, numbering about 5000 men of the Khugiani tribe, was found occupying a strong position, on the crest of some rising ground, behind sangars (stone parapets) which they were still in the act of building.

The Brigade moved over very difficult, stony ground and arrived at the end of a long plateau, flanked on each side by deep nullahs. On the south was the ridge of steep hills where the Afghans were posted, and from which they opened fire.

The Battery was now brought up, and opened fire at about 1000 yards, the first shell exploding in the midst of a dense mass of men, killing and wounding several. The remainder retired behind the crest, and the guns advanced.

One Squadron of the Tenth and two of the Guides were on the right. The guns continued firing, but the enemy came on, sending two parties along the nullahs on the right and left to turn the flanks; they crept along the edge of the nullahs, close to the flank of the Battery, on which they opened fire, killing some horses and wounding some men. Some of the shots fell among the Squadron of the Tenth, wounding a few men.

As the troops were unable to stop this attack General Gough ordered the retirement of the guns, covered by the Cavalry, who dismounted and opened fire. At the same time he sent for the Infantry. The Cavalry Brigade fell back to the north of the plateau, and soon the Infantry drove the enemy out of the left nullah, with the loss of one Officer and some men killed.

Simultaneously the Tenth and the Guides charged the enemy’s left, and sweeping over the nullah, came upon small bodies of enemy; some stood their ground, others attempting to escape, shared their fate. It was here that the gallant Major Battye of the Guides was killed charging at the head of his Regiment.

The cavalry continued its advance galloping up to the enemy’s position and occupied the sangars which the Afghans evacuated as the Cavalry approached them.

The tenth dismounted beyond the sangars opened fire upon the enemy, and again mounting, pursued with the Guides for several miles, the tribesmen flying in all directions.It was late in the afternoon before the pursuit ended, and as the Tenth and Guides fell back towards the camp at Fattehabad, Captain Manners Wood, accompanied by Lieut. R. B. Fisher was ordered to take his troop, “B”, across the nullah towards the left, and make a detour around some low hills, where the advanced guard found the enemy holding a low hill.

2Captain Wood and Lieutenant Fisher dismounted with most of the men, leaving as few as possible to hold the horses, and advanced up the hill in skirmishing order, to dislodge the enemy, who were firing upon then from their strong position. On approaching the top Captain Wood and Lieutenant Fisher, who were well in front, noticed a Ghazi lying on the ground, pointing his jezail at them. He was a typical Hillman of powerful build. Having fired and missed he jumped to his feet, and rushed at Captain Wood, whose sword was of little use against the long jezail and impetuous rush of the Afghan. He was brought to his knees, and his fanatical assailant, discarding his firearm, with a ponderous knife made a cut at his head, which clove his helmet in two, but, fortunately, did no more than inflict a slight wound.

As Captain Wood lay on the ground, at the mercy of the Afghan, Lieutenant Fisher rushed at the Ghazi, and felled him with the butt end of a carbine, which he was carrying, and Pte. Hackett, who had by this time come up with other men of the troop, gave him the coup-de-grace with his sword.

The incident formed the subject of a spirited whole-page illustration in the Illustrated London News of that period.

The troop now fired two volleys into the enemy, which completely dispersed them, and Captain Wood took his men back to Fattehabad. The casualties in the Troop were seven men wounded, one horse killed, eleven horses wounded and one missing.

Captain Wood served with the Regiment throughout the remainder of the war, and accompanied it during the march of pestilence back to Rawal Pindi, when so many brave Tenth Hussars died of cholera.

On the 12th April 1883 he embarked for England, and being posted to the Regimental Depot, was debarred from accompanying the Regiment to the Soudan campaign of 1884.

He, with Captain Boyce Combe in command, was selected for duty with the escort of the Regiment detailed for duty with H. M. the King, when, as Prince of Wales, His Majesty visited India in 1876. Both the Officers of the escort were given a silver commemorative medal struck on the occasion.

During the whole of his period of command, the Regiment was serving in Ireland, and was stationed at Dublin, Cahir, Ballincollig and Newbridge.

The country was in an unusually undisturbed state, and the Regiment was not once during the six years, 1891 – 1897, called upon to aid the civil authorities, unpleasant duties which had so frequently fallen to the lot of the Cavalry Regiments in the immediate preceding years.

From 1892 to 1895 the Regiment suffered from the great disadvantage of being broken up into small detachments, a circumstance being so detrimental to perfection in drill, and more so in musketry on account of the distance of, and indifferent range accommodation; eloquent testimony is therefore given of the training of the Regiment, by the fact that, in 1894, it headed the list of the Cavalry in the Musketry Training results, and was pronounced to be very highly trained in drills, and all field training, on its arrival at the Curragh Camp, at the summer drills and manoeuvres of 1895.

The years were also marked by the excellent reports on the Regiment, made by the authorities of Dublin and other stations occupied, which numbered no less than ten, besides temporary locations on the line of march, and in billets.

Colonel Manners Wood subsequently served in South Africa, and commanded a column in the Rhodesia District.

He is now on the Retired List, and is a regular attendant at the Regimental Dinners in London.

We hope he will continue to be so for many years.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *