Channer, George Nicholas (DNB12)

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CHANNER, GEORGE NICHOLAS (1842–1905), general, Indian staff corps, born at Allahabad on 7 Jan. 1842, was eldest surviving son of eight children of George Girdwood Channer, colonel, Bengal artillery (1811-95). His mother was Susan (d. 1895), eldest daughter of Nicholas Kendall, J.P., vicar of Talland and Lanlivery, Cornwall. Educated at Truro grammar school and Cheltenham college (1856-9), he passed direct on 4 Sept. 1859 into the Indian army, but served with the 89th and 95th regiments till 7 Aug. 1866, when he entered the Bengal staff corps. He was first employed on active service in the north-west frontier of India campaign in 1863-4. He served in the Ambela campaign, and was present at the actions of 16 and 17 December 1863 against the Sitana fanatics. He afterwards was with General Wilde's column in Jadur country in 1864. He also shared in the Lushai operations in 1871-2. He next served, when a captain, with the 1st Gurkhas in the Malay peninsula in 1875-6, and when with the Malacca column in operations in Sungei Ujong, Terrachi and Sri-Mentani, won the Victoria Cross on 20 Dec. 1875. Channer was sent forward in command of a party of his Gurkhas to reconnoitre the road across the Burkit Putus Pass, which was known to be occupied by the enemy, though owing to the contour of the country and the density of the jungle it was impossible to ascertain without close approach either the number of the foe or the strength of his defences. Selecting two men only to support him, and leaving his company in the rear, Channer pushed on into the jungle. Discovering a native, to act as his unwitting guide, he reached the stockade, within which the enemy were in force. He and his two men leaped the stockade, which was formidably constructed, and rushed on the enemy, who were at a meal. Shots were exchanged, but under the impression that a large force was at hand the natives bolted. A signal brought up the remainder of the Gurkhas, who occupied the captured position. In his despatch describing the operations Colonel Clay, commanding the column, assigned to Channer's foresight and intrepidity prevention of great loss of life (Land. Gaz. 29 Feb. 1876). The gallant deed practically brought the campaign to a close. Channer was mentioned in despatches, and obtained the brevet of major on 12 April 1876. He next served with the expedition against the Jowaki Afridis in 1877 (clasp); was with the 29th Punjab infantry in the Afghan war of 1878-80, and with the Kuram field force, and was present in command of the regiment at the attack and capture of the Peiwar Kotal; he was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 7 Nov. 1879), and received medal with clasp and the brevet of lieutenant-colonel on 22 Nov. 1879. He attained the rank of colonel in the army on 22 Nov. 1883, at the early age of forty-one. In 1888 he commanded the 1st brigade of the Hazara field force, under General (Sir) John McQueen, in the expedition to the Black Mountain which was undertaken to punish the tribes for an attack on British troops in British territory. Active operations were commenced on 3 Oct., and by 18 Nov. the troops had returned to British territory. Channer was the moving spirit of the campaign, and earned universal approval by his splendid energy and the inexhaustible fertility of his resources in every emergency. He was mentioned in despatches and was nominated C.B. on 10 April 1889.

Channer returned to his command, at Jalandhar, and received the reward for distinguished service on 9 Sept. 1892. He was colonel on the Bengal staff from 19 Nov. 1888 to 17 Aug. 1890, and brigadier-general from 22 April 1892 to 11 Dec. 1896, in command of the Assam district. He attained the rank of major-general on 27 April 1893, and was promoted lieutenant-general on 9 Nov. 1896, and general on 12 Jan. 1899. In November 1901 he was placed on the unemployed supernumerary list.

He died on 13 Dec. 1905 at Buckleigh, Westward Ho! Devonshire. He married in June 1872 Annie Isabella, daughter of John William Watson. His widow survived him, and of his four surviving sons two served in the army.

[Army Lists; The Times, 16 Dec. 1905; Daily Telegraph and Western Daily Mercury, 14 Dec. 1905; Lt. Rich, Campaign in Malay Peninsula; private information.]

H. M. V.