Airey, James Talbot (DNB01)

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AIREY, Sir JAMES TALBOT (1812–1898), general, born on 6 Sept. 1812, was son of Lieutenant-general Sir George Airey [q. v.], by Catherine, sister of the second lord Talbot de Malahide. Richard, lord Airey [q. v.], was his brother. He was commissioned as ensign in the 30th foot on 11 Feb. 1830, became lieutenant on 3 May 1833, and exchanged to the 3rd buffs on 23 Aug. He was aide-de-camp to the governor of Madras from May 1834 to July 1837. On 26 Jan. 1841 he was appointed extra aide-de-camp to Major-general Elphinstone, and accompanied him to Afghanistan. In the latter part of that year he was present at the forcing of the Khoord Cabul pass, and the actions near Cabul, and on 21 Dec. he was given up of his own accord to Akbar Khan as a hostage. He was released with the other captives on 21 Sept. 1842, joined the force sent into Kohistan under Brigadier M'Caskill, and was present at the capture of Istalif. He was twice mentioned in despatches (12 Oct. 1841 and 30 Sept. 1842), and received the Afghan medal. He also received the bronze star for the Gwalior campaign of 1843, in which he took part with his regiment. He was promoted captain on 22 July 1842, and was aide-de-camp to the governor of Ceylon from April 1847 to March 1851. On 11 Nov. 1851 he became regimental major, and on 17 July 1854 he exchanged to the Coldstream guards as captain and lieutenant-colonel.

He served throughout the war in the Crimea with the light division as assistant quartermaster-general, being present at the Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman, and the assault of the Redan, and he accompanied the expedition to Kertch. He was three times mentioned in despatches (28 Sept. and 11 Nov. 1854, 18 Sept. 1855). He received the Crimean medal with four clasps, the Turkish medal, the legion of honour (5th class), and the Medjidie (4th class). He was made C.B. on 5 July 1855. He was promoted colonel on 26 Dec. 1859, and became regimental major in the Coldstream guards on 22 May 1866. He was promoted major-general on 6 March 1868, and commanded the troops at Malta from 21 Aug. 1875 to 31 Dec. 1878. He became lieutenant-general on 1 Oct. 1877, and was placed on the retired list on 1 July 1881, with the honorary rank of general. He was made K.C.B. on 2 June 1877, and colonel of the Royal Inniskilling fusiliers on 13 March 1886. He died in London on 1 Jan. 1898. He was unmarried.

[His own narrative of his experience in Afghanistan is given, under the title of 'The Cabool Captives,' in United Service Mag., November 1845 to April 1846. See also Times, 3 Jan. 1898; Army Lists.]

E. M. L.