London Gazette/Corresp: Actions of Perak Expeditionary Force post-murder of Birch

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Special Supplement in the London Gazette Issue 24298 published on the 23 February 1876. 14 Pages.

The supplement contains correspondence relating to actions taken by the Perak Expeditionary Force following the murder of James Wheeler Woodford Birch, commonly known as J. W. W. Birch

(Researched by Jefferyseow 20:36, 16 August 2008 (UTC), great grandson of Kapitan Chung Keng Quee.)

Gazette Issue 24298 published on the 23 February 1876. 14 Pages.



NUMB. 24298. 869

The London Gazette
Of TUESDAY, the 22nd of FEBRUARY.
Printed and Published by THOMAS HARRISON and JAMES WILLIAM HARRISON, printers, at their Office/No 46, St. Martin's Lane, in the Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in the County of Middlesex.
Wednesday, February 23, 1876,
Price Four Pence.

Admiralty, February 22, 1876.

THE following Despatches have been received by the Secretary of the Admiralty from Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder, Commander-in-Chief on the China Station :—


"Audacious," at Singapore, January 17, 1876.


THE letters from Commander Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle," which I transmitted for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, in my letters No. 406 of 25th November last, and No. 425 of 8th December, 1875, will have informed their Lordships of the state of affairs in the Malay Peninsula and the services rendered by the Navnl Forces taking part in the operations up to the 16th November, 1875.

2. Captain Alexander Buller, in Her Majesty's ship "Modeste," having arrived on the scene shortly after that date, assumed the direction of the naval operations, and his letters, dated the 19th and 29th December, 1875, which he informs me he sent direct to their Lordships, will have carried up the account to the latter date.

3. I have now the honour to transmit for the information of their Lordships, a copy of a general . letter from Captain Buller, dated the 8th January, 1876, summarizing the services of the Naval Brigades and the ships under his orders, and reporting the re-embarkation of- the brigades.

4. At the same time, I transmit to be laid before their Lordships reports of proceedings from Commander Edmund St. J. Garforth, of the "Philomel," dated 13th. December, 1875, and 5th January, 1876, showing the services performed by the Naval Brigade under his command attached to the Laroot Field Force, and employed up the river of that name, and also reports of proceedings from Commander Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle," dated ihe 21st December, 1875, and 7th January, 1876, showing the services performed by a third Naval Brigade under his command, which penetrated in Sunghie ujong, and was employed on the Linghie and Lukut rivers.

I should mention here that on Captain Buller's arrival in the Perak River the Naval Brigade, which had been landed under Commander Stirling, was re-embarked, and the ship was sent down to carry troops to Malacca, on account of disturbances in Sunghie Ujong.

5. There were thus three Naval Brigades attached to different forces : That under Captain Alexander Buller, accompanied by Commander Uvedale C. Singleton, of the " Ringdove," and comprising officers and men of the "Modeste" and " Ringdove," which co-operated with Major-General Colborne on the Perak River; that under Commander Edmund St. J. Garforth, of the " Philomel," comprising officers and men of the "Modeste," "Philomel," and "Ringdove," which co-operated with Brigadier-General Ross in the Laroot Field Force (northern attack); and that under Commander Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship " Thistle," which co-operated with Lieutenant-Colonel Hill in Sunghie Ujong, and in the Sunghie and Lakut Rivers.

6. In addition to this, a blockade of the coast north of the Perak River, to prevent the ingress of arms and provisions, was established under the direction of Commander John Bruce, of Her Majesty's ship " Fly."

7. The services of the various Naval Brigades appear to have been highly appreciated by Major-General Colborne, Brigadier-General Ross, and the Colonels commanding the various corps to which the Brigades were attached. The naval officers and men were fortunate in being employed on expeditions calculated to call fully into play their sailorlike qualities.

8. The heavy work, per formed by our seamen in the Perak consisted in poling (cars were no use) numerous boats laden with guns, ammunition, and stores for many consecutive days against a strong current (4 knots), the river being very shallow, but full of deep holes, under a broiling sun (latitude 3° N.), and in carrying guns, rockets, and ammunition, in addition to their own accoutrements through the jungle over roads so nearly impassable, that only 7 miles "could be gained each day.

9. The rapidity of the successes of the various expeditions was owing1,1 learn from officers of rank who have reached Singapore from the front, mainly to the special and professional nature of the aid given by the Naval Brigades as rocket and gun parties, and in fitting and managing the country boats, which alone could be used.

10. It has been most gratifying to me to hear from all quarters only one opinion of the conduct of the Blue Jackets and Marines, their constant cheerfulness in undertaking the heavy daily work which fell to their share, their intelligence and zeal. I have not received a single complaint of their conduct.

11. For nearly a month the brigade under Captain Buller had nothing to eat but preserved meat, supplemented occasionally by wild buffalo—no vegetables or bread; the men were constantly wet through by rain, they had frequently to wade through water and mud over their waists. For the last three days of their advance on Kinta they had to thread their way in a thick jungle, which, during the whole of that time, allowed them no sight of the sky. During the ten days' advance they had no cover of any kind, but slept in the "open." Captain Buller attributes their entire immunity from any disease previous to the attack on Kinta to his having fortunately been able to provide them with waterproof sheets, the great importance of which in a tropical campaign I had pressed on his attention previous to his departure from Shanghai some months ago.

12. I am very glad that I was able to detach so strong a force to the south, as there was not a man too many for the work that had to be carried out by the Naval Brigade.

13. It is my pleasant duty to draw their Lordships' attention to the names of those officers who were fortunately placed in positions where their good qualities were brought prominently into notice. Captain Buller mentions with praise the Commanders, and they have specially named various officers who accompanied them. I alone can speak of Captain Buller. He has been throughout the service of several weeks with Major-General Colborne. They have co-operated in the most cordial manner. Captain Buller, while engaged with the expedition that penetrated furthest into the country, had to make such arrangements regarding the other brigades, the blockade of the coast, &c., as were best calculated to be conducive to the general success of the joint operations.

14. I cannot too strongly recommend Captain Buller to their Lordships' favourable consideration. By his forethought and skill in organization he has contributed largely to the successes of the various expeditions, which successes it was, for obvious reasons, most essential should be promptly attained at all points without check.

15. Commander Stirling's complete success at Passir Sala, as detailed 'in his letter of 16th November, 1875, forwarded to their Lordships in my letter, No. 425, of 8 December, 1875, pointed out what was the best method of attacking the enemy, which, when followed, always led to success without loss.

The expedition of 14 days to Sunghie Ujong, in co-operation with Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, had the same obstacles to contend with as the expedition to Kinta, with one exception, viz., that the enemy always fled in good time to save themselves from what they most dreaded - the rockets.

16. The two Senior Lieutenants employed in Brigades were Lieutenants Henry T. Wright, First Lieutenant of the " Modesto " (3rd April, 1868), and Wentworth V. Bayly, of the "Ringdove" (12th October, 1869), both highly spoken of by Captain Buller.

17. Sub-Lieutenant Thomas F. Abbott, of the "Thistle" (28th July, 1873), "was at both attacks on Passir Sala" (whose name is already before their Lordships), and is spoken of by the Governor "in the highest terms" Captain Buller informs me.

18. The two Senior Sub-Lieutenants in the Brigades were Richard Poore ("Philomel"), seniority 15th April, 1873, and Walter T. Warren ("Modeste"), seniority 20th June, 1873, both well spoken of.

19. Ex-Sultan Ismail and Maharajah Lela have escaped, it is believed, into Siamese territory, but they have been followed by a large number of Malays with no friendly intentions towards them.

20. I regret that I shall not have the opportunity of seeing Major-General Colborne, of congratulating him on the success of his operations, and of thanking him for the terms in which he has spoken of the Naval Brigades, as he remains at Penang. The prompt appearance of the troops from India, the thorough way in which they went to work, and followed the Malays through the jungle from village to village, stockade to stockade, never giving them time to occupy the latter in force, has, no doubt, had the best effect among the surrounding tribes.

I have, &c.,

Vice-Admiral, Commander-in-Chief.

P.S.—With reference to paragraph 3, I have ascertained, since writing this letter, that the "Philomel's" men, under Commander Garforth have not yet re-embarked.

The Secretary of the Admiralty.

Enclosure No. 1.[edit]

"Modeste" at Penang,January 8, 1876.


HIS Excellency the Governor of the Straits Settlements having informed me he was desirous of reducing the forces in Perak to the numbers required for occupation only, the Major-General commanding and myself agreed that the Naval Brigade ("Modeste," 10 officers, 84 men ; "Ringdove," 3 officers, 22 men ; " Philomel," 4 officers, 40 men) might be embarked on board their respective ships. I therefore left .Kinta on the 4th instant, arrived at Blanga the same'afternoon, proceeded down the River Poruk the" following day, with the men of the "Modeste," and "Ringdove," and reached Her Majesty's. Ship under my command at the Dindings, on the evening of the 6th.

I hope you will not consider it out of place for mo to bring to your notice my high appreciation of the conduct of the officers, seamen, and marines, who formed the Naval Brigade under my command. All did their duty cheerfully find energetically under the most difficult circumstances. When advancing up the Perak River from Banda Bahru to Blanga; the four native boats fitted with the guns and rockets of the 'Naval Brigade had to be poled, under an intensely hot sun, by the seamen for five consecutive days, and the intricate navigation of the river, full of sunken stakes, against a strong current which frequently swept the boats into deep water when the poles where rendered useless, and much vantage ground lost, made it a most arduous task, but the work had to be done, and it was carried out with the greatest cheerfulness.

Commander Uvedale C. Singleton, of Her Majesty's ship " Ringdove," rendered great service in his whaler by leading the flotilla, and sounding ahead to discover the passages.

On our arrival at Blanga, finding the enemy was retreating, and that it was necessary for the success of the expedition to follow them immediately to prevent stockades and other obstacles being erected to obstruct our advance, the Naval Brigade had to undergo much hardship.

The difficulty of carrying the rocket tubes and 24-pounder rockets, in addition to their own accoutrements, was no easy task through twenty two miles of jungle path, replete with obstacles, and at the end of toe weary day's march they had to encamp with only a waterproof sheet. The Control Department, under Commissary W. G. W. Robinson, having anticipated these necessaries for the brigade, had obtained a sufficient number for us from Hong Kong, on finding there was a prospect of hostilities taking place.

I am much indebted to Major-General the Honourable F. Colborne, C.B., commanding the forces, for his readiness to give me any assistance that was required to advance the interests of the Naval Brigade ; and I have to thank Major Amiel and Captain Whitla for permitting the men of the 80th and 10th Regiments to assist our men in the arduous duties of transporting the rockets.

On the the arrival of Her Majesty's ship "Philomel" on this station, I ordered Commander Garforth, on the 2nd December, to proceed to Laroot, to render all assistance to the troops, and to form a Naval Brigade for the northern portion of the Perak Expedition, to act in conjunction with the troops under the command of Brigadier-General Ross.

He also had the superintendence of building rafts, and capturing canoes from the enemy for conveying the troops down the. river from Qualla Kansa, and he carried out my orders and these services with great energy, and in a most efficient manner. I beg to enclose a letter from him, dated 4th January, reporting an attack made on the brigade, on the 4th instant, at Kolalama.

The steadiness shown on this occasion by the brigade is spoken of in strong terras by Her Majesty's Chief Commissioner for Perak, Major McNair, R.A.

I have much pleasure in bringing to your notice the conduct of Commander Singleton, of Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove" who acted as my second in command during the expedition. His services were of the greatest use to me, rendering me much important assistance in carrying out the details connected with the brigade, at all times encouraging the men when in difficulties with their heavy loads, and to the front when work was to be done.

I cannot speak too highly of Commander Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle.' He was for some time the Senior Naval Officer at Banda Bahru before my arrival, and was in command at the successful attack on Passir Sala in conjunction with Captain Whitla, of the 10th Regiment, on the 15th November last.

Disturbances having broken out in Sunjir Ujong I sent Commander Stirling there to conduct naval affairs, and the successful results of lis operations have entirely proved that my estimation of his worth as an officer was correct. I trust the services of these officers may be considered worthy of your bringing their names favourably before their Lordships.

Lieutenant John P. Pipon, Sub-Lieutenant Walter T. Warren, and Mr. John Grant, Gunner, all of the " Modeste," and Alexander Matthewson, Chief Gunner's Mate of the "Ringdove," were mmediately in charge of their respective gun and rocket boats, and I was much satisfied with the prompt manner the rockets were brought into action in the jungle.

Surgeon Anthony Gorham, of the "Ringdove," and Surgeon Charles C, Godding, of thest Modeste," were constantly watching the health of the brigade, and to their attention I attribute its healthy state.

Lieutenant Henry T. Wright, of the "Modeste," in conjunction with Lieutenant Huntley, 1st Battalion 10th Regiment, made a successful attack on the village two miles below Blanga, where our provision boats had been fired into, and a Sikh mortally wounded and a Chinaman injured. Owing to the thickness of the jungle they were unable to make any prisoners, but it had the desired effect of making the Punglema of the village bring in the two men who had fired upon the boats.

Lieutenant Wentworth V. Bayly, of Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove," superintended the transport service at Durian Sabatang, and conducted the duties entirely to my satisfaction. The ship's company of the "Ringdove" constantly worked day and night, unloading vessels and pushing on provisions and ammunition to the Residency at Banda Bahru in boats.

I have already had the pleasure of bringing to your notice the gallant conduct of Sub-Lieutenant Thomas F. Abbott, of the " Thistle," at the time of the murder of Mr. Birch. His Excellency the Governor speaks of him in the strongest terms, and I trust you will consider his conduct deserving of bring prominently brought to the notice of their Lordships. He was at both attacks at Passir Sala, and since that time has most ably conducted the naval affairs at the Residency.

Her Majesty's ships " Modeste," under temporary command of Lieutenant the Honourable Edward T. Needham, and "Fly" have been blockading the rivers. Commander John Bruce, of the "Fly," has conducted this duty with great energy. His vigilant guard over the coast has prevented any provisions being brought into the country, and he has secured a large amount of tin belonging to the Ex-Sultan Ismail.

Mr. William C. Gillies, Assistant-Paymaster of the "Modeste," served with me as my Clerk, and Mr. Mansfield G. Smith, Midshipman of the "Modeste," as my Aide-de-Camp, during the whole of the expedition. They were Always with me in the front, and were energetic and attentive in the performance of the duties required of them.

I have, &c.,

Captain and Senior Officer, Straits of Malacca.

Vice-Admiral Alfred Phillipps Ryderr
Chinese Station.

Enclosure No. 2.[edit]

" Philomel," offLaroot River, December 13, 1875.


IN continuation of my letter of proceedings of the 2nd of December, I have the honour to inform you that on that date I communicated with Captain Buller at Banda Bahru, who ordered me to proceed to Larut, to co-operate with Brigadier-General Ross, commanding the forces of the "Larut River Expedition," by assisting in landing troops, and forming a Naval Brigade.

The Naval Brigade landed here under my command will consist of four officers, and thirty nine men of this ship, three officers and fifty-five men of the "Modeste," and six men of the "Ringdove," making in all one hundred and seven officers and men.

I have been informed by General Ross, that when he has made arrangements for the transport of troops from Qualla Kansa, at which place the seamen will be most useful in constructing rafts ; he will be glad for me to land the Naval Brigade. On the llth instant, I received instructions from the Brigadier-General to land the "Modeste's" men ; the remainder of the Naval Brigade to follow on the 13th.

I have been requested by General Ross to arrange a postal communication for conveying despatches between Laroot and Penang, the ships at present available here for this duty being the "Philomel" and the transport-ship "Arabian," the latter vessel being held in readiness to proceed to Penang at any moment.

I have written to the Governor of Penang, asking that all steamers coming from Penang to Perak River, and vice versa, may be ordered to stop and communicate with the senior naval officer off Laroot; and I hope by these means that little or no delay will occur, the General having informed me that he attaches great importance to the establishment of a regular communication between Laroot and Penang ; and before landing I shall impress upon Navigating Lieutenant Drake the necessity of paying every attention to the carrying out of this duty.

I am landing here to-day with the remainder of the Naval Brigade, leaving Navigating Lieutenant Drake in temporary command of this ship.

I have, &c.,


Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder,
Commander-in-Chief) &c.,

Her Majesty's ship "Philomel," at Larut, December 8, 1875.

A RETURN showing the number of Officers and Men forming the Naval Brigade to be landed at Larut.

" Modeste"—3 Officers ; 28 seamen ; 18 Marines :—Total 49.
"Philomel"—4 Officers ; 31 seamen ; 8 Marines :—Total 43.
"Ringdove"—6 Marines :-Total 6.
Totals—7 Officers; 59 seamen; 32 Marines :— 98.


NOMINAL LIST of the Officers landed with the Naval Brigade, and attached to the Larut Field Force.

E. St. John Garforth, Commander, "Philomel."
Henry T. Wright, Senior Lieutenant, "Modeste'."
Robert T. Wood, Senior Lieutenant, "Philomel."
Robert W. Williams, Surgeon, "Philomel."
Richard Poore, Sub-Lieutenant, "Philomel."
James P. Montgomery, Sub-Lieutenant, "Modeste."
Thomas P. Walker, Midshipman, "Modeste."

" Philomel" off Laroot River,
December 13, 1875.

Enclosure No. 3.[edit]

Qualla Kandsor, Head Quarters, Laroot Field Force, January 5, 1876.


I HAVE the honour of informing you that at daylight on the 4th January, the following forces, under Brigadier-General Ross, left Qualla Kandsor for a village called Koto-lama, on.the left bank of the Perak River, distant three miles :—

32 officers and men, Naval Brigade, with 24-pounder rocket and 7-pounder gun.
100 Buffs.
4 0 Ghoorkhas.
12 Royal Artillery with 7-pounder gun.

Kota-lama is the village that the late Mr. Birch was stopped at by an armed force, and for some time has been harbouring the worst characters in this part of the country, and it was the intention to destroy the houses belonging to these men.

A portion of the force was marched up on both banks of the river, two villages being opposite one another, of the same name ; the one on the right bank was only to be searched for arms.

Having landed with the Naval Brigade and rocket (leaving sufficient men to guard the boats), I was requested by the Brigadier-General commanding to search some houses for arms, which having accomplished I came up with him and his staff at the house of one of the chiefs, about 11. A.M.

About five minutes after this fifty or sixty armed Malays, who had evidently been hidden in the bush (which was very thick), made a sudden and most determined attack on our party. I had previous to this formed the Blue Jackets up as a guard to the Brigadier-General. The enemy immediately came to close quarters, using their fire-arms and spears, the latter with great effect.

The attacking party being nearly double the number, I cannot speak too highly of the conduct displayed on the occasion by both officers and men, each trying to outvie the other in individual acts of gallantry, being at the time unsupported by any of the troops, who had a short time before had skirmishing parties through this part of the bush.

I would wish, to bring-before your favourable notice for the information of their Lordships the names of Lieutenant Robert T. Wood and Sub-Lieutenant Richard Poore, who were each in charge of a portion of the men, and behaved with gallantry during the attack—the latter officer has been nearly three years a Sub-Lieutenant, and I consider is worthy of some mark of their Lordships' consideration,

There are likewise three Blue Jackets, who I feel it my duty to inform you of. Two—Henry Thompson, A.B., and Harry Bonnett, A.B., saved the life of Dr. Townsend attached to the Buffs, by cutting down the Malays, who were about to spear him after he fell. David Sloper, A.B., for standing by the body of Major Hawkins (Brigade-Major) after he had been speared, shooting down two of the enemy and only retreating when obliged to do so.

I beg to enclose Dr. R. W. Williams' report of the killed and wounded.

I have, &c.,

Commander, Commanding Naval Brigade
attached to Laroot Field Force.

Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder,
Commander-in-Chief, &c., &c.

Sub-Enclosure in Enclosure No. 3.[edit]

Naval Brigade Her Majesty*s ship "Philomel"

LIST of Killed and Wounded at the Assault on the Village of Kota-lama.

William J. Soul, Leading Seaman and Seaman Gunner, spear wound on the right side of the spine, transfixing the chest, the aperture of exit being about 5 inches below the right nipple.


Jasper Ball, Private Royal Marine Light Infantry, two spear wounds in the epigastrium. Spear wound of left fore-arm, and several of right hand through grasping the spear. Death in about 18 hours.

Surgeon, R.N.,
Her Majesty's ship " Philomel."

Enclosure No. 4.[edit]

Terrachte, December 21, 1875.


I HAVE the honor to inform you that the force, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, of the 1st Goorkhas, to which I was attached, started from a position l£ miles of the Residency at 9 o'clock on the morning of the 19th instant.

The force consisted of 120 men of the 1st Goorkhas, under Captain Mercer, 30 seamen and Marines from the " Thistle," under Navigating Sub-Lieutenant M. S. Beatty and Assistant-Paymaster T. F. Harrison, with one 24-pounder rocket tube, and 11 Royal Artillery with a 7-pounder gun, the whole being under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill.

The route lay through much open country for the first six miles, after which we got into forest and jungle, and after marching about nine miles force was halted by a river in the forest, and bivouacked for the night.

Next morning we moved on again, and travelled by a very bad pathtkrough the forest all day, and, after marching about 12 miles, again camped for the night in the jungle.

The following day we moved on early over a very rough scrambling path, our difficulties being much increased by the enemy having cut down many trees, staked the paths with sharp bamboos, and thrown other obstacles in our way in the most difficult passes ; we also had to cross and re-cross the Moar River 15 or 20 times.

About noon we came on a stockade freshly made, and only just abandoned, and shortly afterwards emerged from the jungle into

the Terrachee Valley, and after marching about two miles along it without opposition or seeing any one, all the houses we passed being abandoned, we halted for the night in our present position.

Early this morning we were again under arms, and after leaving a strong guard here, under Mr. T. F. Harrison, marched up the valley towards the Bukit Putas Pass, but after going about three miles met the column under Colonel Clay coming down, and learnt that the stockade in Bukit Putas had been surprised and taken on the night of the 20th instant by Captain Channer and

25 men of the Goorkhas, with a loss of one killed and two wounded, they represent the position and stockade as being one of great strength; the enemy are supposed to have retreated into Datu Moar country.

I desire to bring before your notice the very great zeal and energy displayed by Navigating Sub-Lieutenant M. S. Beatty and Mr. T. F. Harrison, Assistant Paymaster, throughout the whole of the arduous march, and it is to their exertions, that the difficulty of carrying the large cases of 24-pounder rockets was surmounted.

Being short of available executive officers in the ship, I have employed Mr. Harrison much in this capacity, and he has proved himself most efficient.

The seaman and Marines have, I am glad to say behaved admirably, so much so as to call for the praise of the Lieutenant-Colonel in command. I am glad to say that, notwithstanding much wet and sleeping in the jungle, there is no sickness. Pending contrary orders from you, I purpose remaining with this expedition as long as my services are required by Colonel Anson.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) F. STIRLING,
Commander Her Majesty's ship " Thistle,"
Naval Brigade.

P.S.—A tracing of this part of the Malay Peninsula, as surveyed by Mr. Daly, the Colonial Engineer, will be sent as soon as obtainable.

Captain Alexander Buller,
Her Majesty's ship " Modeste,"
Senior Officer, Malacca Straits.

Enclosure No. 5.[edit]

Her Majesty's ship "Thistle" Penang, January 7, 1876.


IN continuation of my last letter of proceedings, dated Terrachee, December 22nd, I beg to .inform you that on the 24th December, an advance into the States of Ulu Moar and Sri Menanti having been determined on, the whole force got under arms at 9.30 A.M., and moved as far as Qualla Parit, where the two columns separated, that under Colonel Clay crossing the hills into Sri Menanti, while that under Lieutenant Colonel Hill to which the Naval Brigade was attached, marched into Ulu Moar ; the country we passed through was a rich valley with much rice under cultivation, and well stocked with buffalo, goats, and poultry, and evidence of a considerable population, though the houses were all deserted ; no opposition was experienced, and we halted for the night at the house of the Datu of Moar.

Next morning we advanced into Sri Menanti, taking a different route to the other column, passing a well 'built and recently deserted stockade which was destroyed, and at 1 P.M. joined the rest of the force under Colonel Clay near the residence of the Rajah Autas, or, as he claims to be, the Yam Tuan Besar.

Hearing here that the Chiefs and the fighting men had fled into Jompole, a small force was detached in pursuit of them to Qualla Jompole, but it being evident that no opposition was now intended, Colonel Anson informed me that the services of the Naval Brigade could now be dispensed with, and accordingly the following morning (the 26th,) 1 detatched my force from the main body and taking the road over the Sri Menanti hill, passed through Terrachee, and encamped for the night at "Bandole". The next morning the march was continued over the Bukit Patas Pass, by Parroci, into Rassa, a distance of 18 miles, where we remained the night.

Finding the following morning that many of the men were unfit to march to Lukut (a distance of 18 miles over a very bad road), I determined to send them down in boats by the Lingey River ; and leaving Navigating Sub-Lieutenant Beatty and Mr. Harrison to carry out this, I myself proceeded to Lukut, and getting on board the same evening brought the ship round to the mouth of the Lingey River next day. and the party returned to the ship on the morning of the 30th December.

I beg to bring to your favourable notice the great zeal and energy displayed by Navigating Sub-Lieutenant M. S. Beatty and Mr. Thos. F. Harrison, Assistant-Paymaster of this ship, throughout the operations, and it is due to their exertions that the Naval Brigade earned the reputation of being always ready.

The conduct of the seamen and Marines has also been most praiseworthy during the fortnight they have been landed, though much of the marching was of a most arduous nature, trying even to regular troops, they behaved with the utmost steadiness.

I beg to enclose a sketch of the country of Songir Ujong, Sri Menanti, &c., showing the route and position of the stockades, &c. ; also the copy of a letter addressed to me by the Honourable Colonel Anson, Lieutenant-Governor of Penang and Special Political Agent in Songir Ujong, with reference to the operations.

On the 31st December I got under weigh for target practice, returning to the same anchorage at noon.

On the 5th the Honourable Colonel Anson returned from Rassa, and requested me to convey him to Penang, at the same time informing me that he did not consider the presence of a man-of-war to be any longer necessary in that part of the coast. I accordingly got under weigh the same afternoon, communicating with Her Majesty's ship "Modeste " at the Dindings, and the "Philomel" off Larut yesterday, and arrived at this port this morning at 9 A.M.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) F. STIRLING,

Captain Alexander Buller,
Her Majesty's ship "Modeste"
Senior Officer, Malacca Straits.

Sub-Enclosure, in Enclosure No. 5.[edit]

Her Majesty's ship "Thistle,"
January 6, 1876.


I HAVE the honour to express my thanks for the ready and cheerful assistance which, under considerable difficulties, you and the officers and men of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle" who cooperated, with the expedition to Songie Ujong have rendered me. I have, not failed to communicate my appreciation of your services and theirs to the Governor of the Straits Settlements, and to request that he will be good enough to being them to the notice of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.

To yourself personally I desire also to express my acknowledgments for the courtesy and consideration which I have received from you.

I am, &c.

(Signed) A. E. H. ANSON,

Commander F. Stirling,
Her Majesty's ship "Thistle."

The Services of the Naval Brigade in the Malay Peninsula.[edit]

Acknowledgments of the Major-General Commanding the Forces engaged.

"Audacious" at Singapore,
January 20, 1876.

SUBMITTED for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty with reference to my letter of the 17th instant.

Vice-Admiral, Commander-in-Chief,
The Secretary of the Admiralty.

Head Quarters, Penang,
January 11 , 1876.


ON the probable conclusion of active operations in Perak district of the combined naval and military expeditionary force, I beg to be allowed to express to you my sincere thanks and acknowledgments for the cordial and able assistance I have at all times received from you as senior naval officer during these operations, as well as for the personal courtesy and kindness I have experienced while on board Her Majesty's ships, commanded by yourself, Commander Singleton, Commander Stirling, and Commander Bruce. I also beg to express my grateful sense of the alacrity in providing for, and attention to, the men's comfort shown by these officers while the troops were on board their respective vessels.

I shall esteem it a great favour if you will oblige us by conveying to the officers, petty officers, and men of the Naval Brigade forming part of the Perak Expeditionary Force my high appreciation of their indefatigable exertions during the whole period of a very arduous advance by water as well as by land. In the former, the labour undertaken by the men, unaccustomed to the work of poling against a strong, current, and under a hot sun, was excessive ; and on the land, from the extreme badness of the jungle road, the heavy weight of ammunition and rockets to be carried, the exposure at night and occasional shortness of provisions, the service was a most trying one.

On both occasions the cheerful willingness, the good spirits and temper that invariably prevailed, excited my warmest admiration, nor must I omit to refer to the promptitude with which, as occasion required, the rockets were brought into action, and the good service done by them. In conclusion, I beg to assure you of the honour I have felt it to be associated, in command with the Naval Brigade; on this occasion, and of my best wishes for their welfare and happiness.

I have, &c.,

Major-General Commanding Forces,
China and Straits Settlements.

Captain Alexander Buller,
Commanding Her Majesty's ship "Modeste,"
Senior Naval Officer.

THE following Despatches have already appeared in the public newspapers :—

"Audacious," Hong kong,
December 8, 1875.


I HAVE the honour to forward herewith, to be laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, reports of proceedings addressed to me by Commander Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle," dated respectively the 12th and 16th of November, 1875, showing the progress of events up to the latter date.

2. In submitting these reports I have the honour to draw their Lordship's attention to the position in which Sub-Lieutenant Thomas F. Abbott was placed on the 2nd and 3rd of November, and the efficient way in which he anticipated and prevented" the attacks of the Malays by fortifying the Residency at Banda Bahru, which probably discouraged the other tribes from joining in the aggressive movements of the murderers of Mr. Birch. I also wish to draw their Lordship's attention to the efficient services rendered by Commanders Francis Stirling, of Her Majesty's ship "Thistle," and John Bruce, of Her Majesty's ship "Fly," as well as the officers and men under their command.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) A. P. RYDER,
Vice-Admiral, Commander-in-Chief.

Enclosure No. 1.[edit]

The Residency, Banda Bahru,
November 12, 1875.


I BEG to inform you that on the 10th instant I brought the "Thistle" up the river as far as Durian Sebatang (about 45 miles from the mouth of the river), and then came up to the Residency to put myself in communication with Major Dunlop, temporary Special Commissioner in Perak. On the 11th (yesterday) I returned with Mr. Swettenham (Assistant Commissioner) to Durian Sebatang, and moved the "Thistle" to a position more favourable for blockading the Upper Perak, and also for commanding Durian Sebatang, and we were also fortunate enough to secure the person of Hadji Alli, a native chief on the enemy's side, by completely cutting off his retreat, when he surrendered. At the same time we secured a considerable amount of arms and ammunition destined for the interior.

I have stationed Captain Bruce at Durian Sebatang for the present, to superintend the transport of stores, &c., a work of some difficulty, owing to the extreme shallow-ness of the river.

An attack is being organized on the enemy's stockade at Passir Sala as soon as suitable guns and boats arrive from Singapore, probably in a few days.

I beg to enclose Sub-Lieutenant T. F. Abbott's report of events that have occurred here from the 1st of November, and would desire to bring strongly before your notice the great judgment and coolness he has displayed in circumstances of a most trying and difficult nature; and it is without doubt owing to his vigorous arrangements for the defense of the Residency (of which he was in charge after Mr. Birch's murder) that it was not attacked before the arrival of reinforcements. His Excellency the Governor has also expressed to me his high appreciation of his conduct.

I have, &c.,

F. STIRLING,Commander and Senior
Officer, Straits of Malacca.

Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder,
Commander-in-Chief, China Station.

Sub-Enclosure No. 1[edit]

The Residency, Banda Bahru, Perak,
November 6, 1875.


I HAVE the honour tO report to you, for the information of his Excellency the Governor of the Straits Settlements, the following events that have occurred in Perak since the 1st of November instant :—

Mr. Birch desired me to accompany him in his mission up the Perak River, to post the recent proclamations of the Governor and the notices connected with the future administration of the Government of Perak, and we left together ; ourselves in the large boat, mounting a 3-pounder brass gun, attended by a sampan panjang with 10 Sepoys of the Resident's guard armed with Snider rifles, and a small mortar, and by another sampan panjang fitted up as a cooking boat. At about 5.30 P.M. oh the evening of the 1st of November, we stayed at Passir Panjang, where we dined, and pushing upwards immediately after dinner, we moored our boats at Passir Sala, near the Maharajah Lela's house between 10 and 12 P.M., and slept there for the night.

A little after six o'clock on the following morning, I crossed over to the opposite bank (Campong Gaga) to shoot there, everything being quiet when I left, and when, after about three hours shooting, 1 returned to the river bank, I observed the Datu Sajar beckoning to me in an excited manner, and when he approached me with a number of armed men, he said Mr. Birch was dead, several Sepoys killed and others fled, and advised me to fly into the jungle. I, however, preferred to take to a sagar, accompanied by two boys (Solomons and a boatman) and we pushed to the middle of the river. One boatman soon deserted, and having only a pole and a paddle, we had great difficulty in managing the boat, a well directed fire being kept up from the right bank principally, for half-way to the Residency, which I reached, however, without accident about 10.30 A.M.

Here I found one of our boats bad already arrived with the intelligence, Having on board the body of Mr. Birch's interpreter, Arshad, who died on the way down, and nine Sepoys (two of whom were severely and one slightly wounded), and both Mr. Birch's private servants.

The big boat and one sampan panjang, containing the brass gun and ifiottat arid ammunition, two blue ensigns, one Union Jack; several boxes of official records, 100 dollars in money, and some of Mr. Birch's and my property, fell into the hands of the Passir Sala people.

I then proceeded to call together Captain Welner (of the Colonial steamer "Pluto"), Mr. Bacon, Mr. Keyt, and Inspectors Warhe and Lagis to resolve upon the best measures to be adopted.

We decided to dispatch the "Pluto" immediately to Penang to communicate with the Lieutenant-Governor ; telegraph to Sir William Jervois and ask for assistance ; to inform the Sultan, Abdullah, of what had occurred, and to send Mr. Warne back to Pankore to be at his post, with orders (if necessary for their safety) to withdraw the police from the Bruas and Teluk Batu stations, and concentrate at the Dindings.

I then proceeded to fortify the island on which the Residency stands as the best defensive position, and there to concentrate all the Sepoys and arms and ammunition.

I next examined what arms and ammunition we had in store, paraded the Sepoys, gave them their orders, and kept a strict watch throughout the night, as we had reason to expect an attack.

On the following morning our scouts, a few Chinese who volunteered to give us every assistance,- brought us intelligence that armed parties. had assembled at night upon both banks to attack us, within a very short distance above the Residency, but had changed their minds and returned.

I had a stockade constructed on the 3rd, and ran a strong cheval-de-frise of strong sticks round the island, and used every other precaution, according to our means, to hold our position during the night, which passed off without any incidents—excepting the wounding of a Sepoy by the accidental discharge of a rifle during a false alarm.

I deemed it best simply to protect the Residency for the present, and to adhere to this policy until reinforcements should have arrived, or other instructions from Penang by the "Pluto."

The four men of the " Thistle " who were left with me were detailed to work the three guns we have here (a Vavasour 9-pounder, a brass 12-pounder howitzer, and a mortar), and otherwise to make themselves useful.

The Sepoys, numbering about 50 active men, were our only other force. They are, with two or three exceptions, recruits from the neighbourhood of Lahore, in India, and are still far from perfect in the use of arms, and are to a great extent wanting in discipline, but they did their duty well.

On the morning of the 5th Mr. Swettenham arrived from Qualla Kangsa, and assumed civil charge of the Residency.

I append a list of killed and wounded, and letters that have passed between the Sultan and myself, also depositions of the most reliable witnesses of the murder of Mr. Birch.

Before concluding I feel it due to them to state that I was greatly assisted in my operations by the members of the Resident's Staff, viz., Messrs. Bacon and Keyt, and Police Inspector Lagis. Mr. Kenn also proved useful in attending to the sick and wounded.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) T. F. ABBOTT,

Commander F. Stirling,
Her Majesty's ship "Thistle,"
Senior Naval Officer, Straits of Malacca.

Sub-Enclosure No. 2.[edit]

List of Killed and Wounded at Passir Sala on November 2, 1875.

The Hon. S. W. Birch.
Arshad, Interpreter.
Hit Sersing, Sepoy.
Dim Laroot, Boatman.

Doolah, Boatman, severely.
Karet Singh, Sepoy, severely.
Chet Singh, Corporal Sepoy, severely.
Mahomed, Boatman, slightly.
Mohomed, Boatman, slightly.
Mya Singh, Sepoy, slightly.

Sub-Enclosure No. 3.[edit]

Bandhar Bahru,
November 2, 1875.

To His Highness Sultan Abdullah Mahomed Shah,
son of the late Sultan Jaffir bin Al Maathum-Shah, Sultan of Perak.

I HAVE to inform my friend that Mr. Birch was killed by some of our friend's people at Passir Sala this morning, and I shall be obliged if my friend will come up here and consult with me, and give me every assistance in the matter.

T. F. ' ABBOTT, Sub-Lieutenant,
in charge of the Residency, Bandhar Bahru.

Sub-Enclosure No. 4.[edit]

Durian Sabaltan,
November 3, 1875.

From Sultan Abdullah Mahomed Shah, Sultan of Perak, &c., to Sub-Lieutenant T. F. Abbott.

I HAVE received my friend's letter, and I am very sorry.

As soon as I received my friend's letter I began to collect my people to come up to Bandhar Bahru.

And when my people are ready I shall come and consult with my friend and give every assistance in my power.


Sub-Enclosure No. 5.[edit]

From Sub-Lieutenant T. F. Abbott, in charge of Her Britannic Majesty's Residency at Perak, to his Highness Sultan Abdullah Mahomed Shah, son of the late Sultan Jaffir Al Maatham Shah:-

I thank my friend for my friend's answer to my letter, and for the expression of my friend's readiness to assist us.

I shall be glad if my friend will succeed in collecting our friend's subjects, to come to our aid, and I shall put the Balu on the Residency premises at my friend's disposal; and I shall be glad also if my friend will come here as early as convenient, and consult with us and the great ollicers of the British Government, whom we expect soon to arrive, as to the best means of punishing the murderers of Mr. Birch and several other British subjects, and restoring quiet to the country. The body of the late Resident has not been found up to this day, and I am told that the Resident boat and the property in it have been sent up to the Sultan Ismael.

Sub-Enclosure No. 6.[edit]

Mahomed Noor, private servant of Mr. Birch, states :—

At about half-past eight I was on shore at Passir Sala, near the goldsmith's shop. I was sitting in an empty boat. I saw a large number of Malays come to where the proclamation was posted and say, "What, more ! let us tear it down, if they try to prevent us we will stab them." They then tore it down, and rushed at Arshad and stabbed him. I saw the crew of Mr. Birch's boat jump into the river. I also jumped into the river. I saw the small sampan panjang coming down the river, and I swam after it and got in. The Malays were firing at us from both banks as we were coming down.

By Mr. Abbott.—Where did you see Mr. Birch last ?

Answer.—In the boat.

Before me
(Signed) T. F. ABBOTT,Sub-Lieutenant.
Interpreted by EDWARD BACON.
Witness, F. G. KEYT.

Sub-Enclosure No. 7.[edit]

November 2, 1875.

Ahmid, Head Boatman, states:—

At about eight o'clock this morning I was lying down at the stern of the boat. I heard the Malays on shore say, "As soon as Mr. Birch has had breakfast we will drive him away. If he does not go, then we will do for him." Then I got up and looked into the boat, and I did not find Mr. Birch. I heard him talking from the bathing-house. I remained in the boat. I saw the Malays with naked spears tearing down the proclamations. Half the Malays came to the river-side and told them to shove off. Then the sampan panjang men moved off. Then I saw the Malays cutting and spearing the crew of the other sampan panjang. I still remained at the stern of the boat looking on. I turned and looked towards the bathing-house and saw Kaleh Khan with a pistol in his hand jump into the water. I .went into Mr. Birch's cabin and saw two Malays there. I took up a rifle, but finding no ammunition, put it down and jumped into the water. Just then I saw the interpreter, Arshad, coming towards the boat. One Malay man who was in the boat prevented him by striking him with a sword. I saw Arshad severely wounded and exhausted; as I was swimming down the river I saw Arshad giving up the attempt to get at Mr. Birch's boat, and I heard him hail the sampan panjang for help. It was about 20 yards distant. I told the sampan panjang men to wait; they did so. Then Arshad and I got into it; Arshad was helped in. We then retreated, and the Malays on shore followed and kept firing at us. One of our men was hit, and another complained of being wounded. When I was far away I saw Mr. Abbott and two boys following in a saga, and the Malays from both banks firing at them.

By Mr. Abbott.—When did Arshad die ?

Answer.—In about an hour after he was taken into the boat.

By Mr. Abbott.—Did Arshad say anything before he died ?

Answer.—He said nothing.

Question.—Did you see anybody attack Mr Birch ?

Answer.—I saw several Malays entering the bath-house, but there was no noise.

Question.—You were so close to him, do you think Mr. Birch was killed ?

Answer,—I think he was.

Before me,
T. F. ABBOTT, Sub-Lieutenant.
Interpreted by me, EDWARD BACON.
Witness, J. T. KEYT.

Sub-Enclosure, No. 8.[edit]

Mustapha, Mr. Birch's Cook, states :—-At halfpast 8 this morning, Mr. Birch called to me and asked for soap and a towel to go for a bath. I gave them. My master ordered breakfast, and I went to prepare it. I saw a number of Sepoys am boatmen, while I was cooking, rush into a sampan panjang, which capsized. They swam to another sampan panjang. I joined them, and came down the river to Banda Bahru.

By Mr. Abbot.—Did you hear any firing, or did you see any one stabbed or wounded ?

Answer.-—No, I did not.

Before me,
T. F. ABBOTT, Sub-Lieutenant.
Interpreted by me, J. T. KEYT.

Sub-Enclosure No. 9.[edit]

Kaleh Khan, Private of the Resident's Guard, states :—Almost all the Sepoys were on shore, and I was among them. A Datu came twice to the boat and spoke to Mr. Birch. Arshad, the interpreter, posted the proclamation near the goldsmith's shop. The first time it was torn down I told Mr. Birch. He spoke to Arshad, and Arshad explained they were taking it away to show to Datu Saga. Mr. Birch ordered Arshad to post another, and it was done. Then Mr. Birch went to the bathing-house to bathe. Several Malays were on the spot, all armed. I was standing on one of the logs of the floating bath-house, with Mr. Birch's revolver in my hand. All at once, the other proclamation was torn down by a man whom I will recognize if I see him again, and there was a rush upon us with spears and knives. I saw some Malays get into the bathing-house where Mr. Birch was. I afterwards fell into the water; the water was very deep, and I could get no footing, but I saw one of our boats at some distance going down towards Banda Bahru, and I hailed it and told our men to fire. The Malays were firing from both banks. I succeeded in getting into the boat, afterwards came down here. If I see the Datu again, I shall know him. I saw him at the Residency often, but do not know his name.

Before me,
T. P. ABBOTT, Sub-Lieutenant.
Interpreted by J. T. KEYT.
Witness, J. ROZELLE.

Sub-Enclosure No. 10.[edit]

Bandhar Bahru, November 9, 1875.


I HAVE the honour to report to you the following circumstances which have occured since my last .communication, dated November 4. On the morning of the 5th Mr. Swettenham arrived and took civil charge of the Residency.

That day we planned an attack on the enemy, the idea being to divide the Sepoys, taking them along both banks and putting both the guns (12-pounder howitzer and 9-pounder Vavasour) in boats, to use them to annoy and divert the enemy's attention during an attack from the troops. However, in the evening I heard from Captain Innes, R.E., Acting Assistant-Commissioner, informing me of the arrival of the troops in the Colonial steamer " Pluto," and decided to await their arrival, which we were afterwards glad of.

On the morning of the 6th instant, we proceeded to prepare the boats for the transport of guns. I proposed that spars should be placed across the boats, and bamboos lashed under them fore and aft outside (to give greater stability and flotation to the small river boats we had at command), the whole being covered with planks, to enable the polers to walk fore and lift.

About noon Captain Innes arrived, accompanied by Lieutenants Booth and Elliot, with a detachment of 60 men of the 10th Regiment.

In the evening I took the boats with the guns out for a trial and found them answer well in everything, except that the guns were stationary, having no boat-slides, and consequently we had to depend upon the polers for direction.

About six o'clock this evening the body of Mr. Birch was brought down the river by Rajah Dam. Upon examination he proved to have received ten spear wounds or stabs.

It was interred with military honours on the island behind the Presidency.

The plan of attack having previously been determined on, at six o'clock on Sunday, November 7, the troops were paraded.

At seven o'clock the embarkation commenced, but owing to want of transport the whole party was not landed on the western bank, about a mile and a half above the Residency, until 10.30 A.M. We immediately started in the following order of march:—

Twenty Malays, under Mr. Swettenham, as scouts ; 4 men 10th, under Corporal Anderson, advance guard j 21 men, under Lieutenant Bpoth, leading half-company; 4 seamen of " Thistle," with coolies carrying rockets, under me, accompanied by Captain Innes ; 47 Sepoys and 27 police under Superintendent Plunkett; 25 men of the 10th, under Lieutenant Elliot, bringing np the rear.

We advanced rapidly, showing as large a front as possible, but often having to break into single file from the nature of the country.

We had marched about 2 1/2 miles, when suddenly a heavy fire was heard in front, and the leading troops formed in skirmishing order across an Indian-corn field—the corn about eight feet high-moving forward steadily. As soon as I saw the stockade I ordered the seamen to commence rocketting, which they did as fast as possible, under a heavy fire. I may here mention that the rockets were of an obsolete pattern (9-pounder tail, shell), and used in wooden troughs, with paper primers stuck in one of the holes in the base, and ignited by a common match, this being the only means I could devise of using them. The Sepoys and police were huddled together behind a large tree, close to the river, and proved utterly useless, and rather dangerous from their wild firing, which wounded some of the troops.

Shortly after the beginning of the action Lieutenant Booth was wounded in the foot, and had to be placed under shelter.

Lieutenant Elliot took command, and we slackened our fire, not being able to see any enemy, though they could evidently sec us. The seamen threw in a few rockets, but too high, owing to their inefficient fittings.

Then it was agreed that after two rockets had been fired there should be a general attack.

I told the seamen to advance in the centre.

After the second rocket a rush was made forward in line, and we placed ourselves close under the stockade, taking advantage of every shelter, keeping up a heavy fire at it, as the enemy was invisible. The men were falling fast, the retire and assembly sounded, so we fell back.

Captain Innes was carried in killed. After a hurried consultation it was unanimously agreed to retire, as it was useless losing men without any visible result.

The coolies having all deserted we were obliged to detail some of the troops to carry the dead and wounded. The remainder were formed into a rear guard, Lieutenant Booth commanding. Mr. Swettenham and I remaining, we retired slowly and in good order to the boats, which occupied about -an hour and a half, when we embarked and arrived at the Residency about 3.30 P.M.

This evening Captain Innes was buried, with military honours, beside the late Mr. Birch's grave.

The affair cost us altogether—one officer killed, two officers wounded, one private (10th) killed, one Sepoy killed, three lance-corporals and four privates severely wounded, and one corporal and one private slightly wounded ; one Sepoy severely wounded.

The Malay scouts, under Mr. Swettenham, proved very useful and showed great courage ; one of them was killed.

The inefficiency of the Sepoys may be partly attributable to want of discipline, and to no officer being acquainted with their language. For the police there is no excuse, particularly as Mr. Plunkett did all that was possible to encourage them and the Sepoys, but without success.

Though unable to discover the loss on the enemy's side we heard from reliable authority that the Malays had abandoned their stockade shortly after we left.

Before concluding, I hope you will not consider I am exceeding my duty in mentioning the gallantry of the European troops and sailors, who were under fire for an hour and three-quarters in very trying circumstances. I believe I saw the last of the missing man (Private Fay, of the 10th), who was lying wounded on the ground, while we were advancing on the stockade. I gave him my pistol, and took his rifle with some ammunition. I did not see him on retiring, and concluded he had been taken to the rear with the others.

On the evening of the 8th, Commander Bruce, of the "Fly," arrived, bringing intelligence of a reinforcement under Captain Whitla, of the 10th, who arrived during the night.

Next day the body of Private Fay floated down the river, and was buried in the evening. The wounded were sent down the river during the day.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) T. F. ABBOTT,
Sub-Lieutenant in charge of Seamen from Her Majesty's Ship "Thistle."

Commander Francis Stirling
Senior Officer, Straits of Malacca.

Enclosure No. 2.[edit]

The Residency, Bandar Bahru, Perak River
November 16, 1875.


IN continuation of my letter of proceedings of the 12th instant I beg to inform you that on the following day, a report having been received that the stockade at Passir Sala was likely to be abandoned, and it being considered extremely advisable that a blow should be struck at them before this took place, an immediate attack on their position was determined on; and, after consultation with Major Dunlop, Special Commissioner in Perak, and Captain Whitla, of the 10th Regiment, in command of the troops, a plan of operations was agreed on.

On Sunday morning, the 14th instant, all the available officers and seaman and marines of Her Majesty's ships "Thistle" and "Fly" were brought up the river and quartered at the Residency, native boats were fitted to receive two 12-pounder howitzer field pieces, one 7-pounder boat's gun, the two 24-pounder naval rocket tubes, and a cohorn mortar, and with much difficulty 15 other native boats were obtained to transport the troops; and on the same evening, after reconnoitring as far as Qualla Truss, a place of disembarkation was determined on, on the right bank of the river, about a mile below the stockade which was attacked on the 7th instant.

On Monday morning at 5 A.M. the embarkation commenced, and at 6.30 the whole force moved. up the river, and at 8.20 disembarked at the place determined on without opposition.

The Marines of both ships were placed at the disposal of Captain Whitla, who formed them into the advanced guard, and placed them under the command of the Hon. Mr. Plunkett, Superintendent of the Police at Penang, who volunteered his services.

It had been' arranged that the boats fitted with the guns and rockets should in ascending the river keep well in advance of the troops, the boats with the reserve ammunition and for wounded keeping well astern.

The naval force was distributed and ascended the river in the following order:—

First native boat with 7-pounder, under Sub-Lieutenant Abbott and nine men ; second native boat with 12-pounder howitzer, under Lieutenant Lowe, and eight men ; third native boat, with 24-pounder rocket, under Mr. Tyler, Boatswain, and eight men—from Her Majesty's ship "Thistle." Fourth native boat, with 12-pounder howitzer, under Chief-Gunner's Mate of the " Fly," and eight men; fifth native boat, with cohorn mortal1, under Sub-Lieutenant D. M. Ross, and eight men ; sixth native boat, with 24-pounder rocket tube, under Lieutenant Forsyth, and eight men—under Commander Bruce, Her Majesty's ship " Fly." The troop boats and boats for the wounded were in charge of Dr. Lloyd, surgeon, and Mr. Vosper, Boatswain of Her Majesty's ship "Fly," and followed in the rear.

The military force consisted of one officer and 20 men of the Royal Artillery, with one gun (a brass 12-pounder howitzer), three officers, and 125 men of the 10th Regiment, and 15 Marines temporarily attached, Major Dunlop, Royal Artillery, Special Commissioner, and Mr. Swettenham, Assistant Special Commissioner, accompanied the advanced guard.

The whole force advanced in the prescribed order at about 10 o'clock ; I, myself, leading in the steam gig, having with me Mr. Harrison, Assistant Paymaster of this ship.

When about 600 yards from the first stockade at Qualla Biah the enemy opened fire on our boats, which was at-once replied to, but we were unable to silence them or drive them out of the stockade until our boats were within 300 yards of and enfilading it, and the Artillery had brought their gun into play, when, after having received no reply to our fire for some time, the troops advanced and took possession and found it abandoned. Two guns were captured here.

Continuing our way up the river, I directed rockets and shell to be thrown into the jungle at intervals to clear the way for the troops (who burnt the houses on their way as they advanced), and about a mile below Passir Sala (now in view), the enemy again made a stand, and opened fire on us with their rifles, but with no effect, and they were soon dislodged; nearing Passir Sala to about 1,OOO yards, two guns were brought to bear on us, and also a fire of musketry on our flank; the latter was, however, quickly silenced by the advancing troops, while the boats shelled and rocketted the village of Passir Sala, taking up a position at 600 yards; the practice from the 7-pounder gun and rockets 'was excellent. After having completely silenced the enemy's fire, we moved the boats up, and the troops advancing "at the same time, we took possession of the stockade, and found it abandoned. Three guns were taken, and in the Maharajah Lela's house (inside the inner stockade), the greater part of the late Mr. Birch's property was discovered; his two boats were also found undamaged, moored alongside the bank. It was now four o'clock, and after giving the men their dinner, I crossed over the river to Campong Gaga, at Major Dunlop's request, taking with me Commander Bruce, Sub-Lieutenant Abbott, Mr. Harrison, and a party of seamen, and burnt the Datu Saga's house. Unfortunately, in executing this Inspector Laggis, of the Police, was severely wounded by a spear thrown by a native.

It was now getting dark, and, after burning the stockade and all the houses in the Maharajah's campong, the troops were embarked, and the whole force descended the river and arrived at the Residency at 8 P.M., having completely effected our object, with but one casualty—that of Inspector Laggis.

It is impossible to estimate the loss sustained by the enemy, as they invariably carry off their dead and wounded, but I have reason to believe it is considerable.

The next morning the seamen and Marines returned to their ships.

I desire to express my thanks to Major Dunlop, Special Commissioner in Perak, for the great assistance ho gave me in organizing the naval part of the expedition, and also to Captain Whitla, commanding the troops, for the hearty manner in which he co-operated with ine in every particular in an enterprise in which it was above all things necessary we should act in concert, and it is to this that I attribute chiefly the success of the day.

Owing to the extreme shallowness of the river and the rapidity of the current, the work of poling the gunboats was a most arduous one, the men being also exposed all day to a very hot sun; and my thanks are due to Commander Bruce, of Her Majesty's ship "Fly," who was most zealous and energetic in carrying out the duties intrusted to him, and also to the officers and men of both ships, who, not only on this accasion, but in the difficult work of transporting stores, &c., from Durian Sebatang to Banda Bahru, showed the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) F. STIRLING,
Commander and Senior Officer,
Straits of Malacca.

Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder,
Commander-in-Chief, China Station.


Kinta December 29, 1875.


I HAVE the honour to report that, with reference to a letter received by me from his Excellency the Governor of the Straits Settlements requesting me to proceed to Banda Bahru, on the Perak River, within five miles of the scene of the murder of the late Mr. Birch, I embarked Major-General Colborne, C.B., at Penang, and proceeded,immediately to the Dindings, proceeding up the Perak River in Her Majesty's ship " Fly " as far as Durien Sabatang, the highest point in the river to which a gun vessel can proceed, and in my galley reached Banda Bahru on the 1 st of December.

On our arrival there we consulted with Major Dunlop, R.A., Her Majesty's Commissioner for Perak, as to the advisability of proceeding up the river to Blauga, and as it was agreed no time should be lost in doing so, Major Dunlop prdceeded in the most energetic manner and with great difficulty succeeded in obtaining a sufficient number of native boats from friendly Chiefs, with Chinese polers, to convey 200 troops and 70 seamen, with two rockets and two guns, up the river.

At Banda Bahru every exertion was made to convert four native boats into gun and rocket boats for the Naval Brigade, and to get sufficient supplies up from Durien Sabatang ; and flatbottomed boats, which had been provided from Singapore, were altered to carry Control stores.

On the 8th of December the combined forces (40 Royal Artillery, two guns ; 100 1st Battalion 10th Regiment; 100 80th Regiment ; 70 Naval Brigade, two rockets and two guns) left Banda Bahru, but, owing to the strength of the current (four knots an hour), the difficulties and delays that will occur with a flotilla of 45 boats crowded with troops, and poled by Chinese under an intensely hot sun, made the progress up the river slow, and we were unable to do more than seven or eight miles in the course of the day. On the 8th we encamped for the night on a dry, sandy island half a mile above Passir Sala : on the 9th at Passir Gorem ; on the 10th at Pulo Telor ; on the llth about half a mile above Bhota ; on the 12th two miles below Blanga.

On the morning of the 13th the troops marched into Blanga, and the gun and rocket boats took up their position opposite the campong (village). We found that ex-Sultan Ismail and his men had recently left, evidently in a great hurry, as numbers of boxes packed for travelling lay about.

From information gained we knew that the ex-Sultan could not be far off, on his road towards Kinta, the capital of Perak, the Major-General, the Commissioner, and I agreed that by pushing on the forces in pursuit that day we should prevent the enemy building strong stockades and otherwise intercepting our advance, and this view was afterwards confirmed by finding incomplete stockades on the track.

Leaving 50 men of the 10th Regiment to garrison Blanga, and 22 officers and seamen in charge of the boats, we advanced through the jungle, following the track of the ex-Sultan. When about two miles from Blanga we met some opposition, the rear guard of the ex-Sultan having felled trees and interlaced them with bushes at a turning in the jungle path.

The advanced guard of the 10th Regiment, under Lieutenant Paton, came suddenly on this obstacle, and a volley was fired down the road as well as from both flanks by the enemy. The rockets of the Naval Brigade and a gun of the Royal Artillery were immediately got into position, and after firing a couple of rounds from each, the advanced guard making use of their rifles, the Malays retired.

I regret to say that Dr. Randell, Principal Civil Medical Officer, Straits Settlements, was shot through the thigh. No other casually, however, occurred, and the force proceeded, feeling their way cautiously, the enemy retiring, firing occasional shots without result.

About 4 P.M. we arrived at a strong stockade, at which the enemy made a short stand, but a round from a rocket drove them out.

This last stockade was evidently intended to have been a formidable place of defence had time been given them to have completed their work. It was evident the ex-Sultan Ismail and suite were only a short distance ahead of us, making their retreat to Kinta on elephants.

Every endeavour was made to overtake him, but in consequence of the men of the Naval Brigade having to carry the 24-pounder rockets and tubes, and the great difficulty of moving the guns along the jungle path, full of obstacles such as fallen trees, swampy ground, deep mud, &c., our progress was so much impeded that we were unable to come up with him.

At 7.30 P.M. we arrived at a spot where water could be obtained, and it being quite dark we encamped for the night about seven miles from Blanga. The next day was employed in getting up supplies, and on the 15th we marched to Papau, a distance of six or seven miles farther on. The progress through the jungle, owing to the difficulties already mentioned, not exceeding a mile per hour.

On the evening of the 16th Mr. Swettenham, one of Her Majesty's Deputy-Commissioners for Perak, proceeded to the front to reconnoitre, accompanied by the friendly Rajah Mahmoud and his followers, and on the morning following the force advanced to within half a mile of Kinta, from where, after firing guns and rockets in the direction of the town, the forces proceeded on the march.

On entering Kinta some light guns were fired by the Malays, but they were soon silenced by the guns and rockets, and the enemy fled hastily up the river. The forces then marched in and took possession, and are now encamped here waiting instructions.

Nine (9) brass guns were captured in the campong. Information was received last evening that ex-Sultan Ismail, the Maharajah Lela, and their followers, were retreating with all haste to Patani, a dependency of Siam.

I wish to express my thanks to the Major-General Commanding for his courtesy in keeping me always acquainted with his intended movements, and the greatest cordiality exists between the sister services.

Great credit is due to Major Dunlop, R.A., Her Majesty's Commissioner, for the efficient manner in which he organized the coolie transport, and for the tact he displayed in the management of the Chinese, overcoming the great difficulties in transporting sufficient supplies for 250 men over 22 miles of jungle path. This, combined with his duties as Commissioner, entailed severe work upon him.

Mr. Swettenham, Deputy Commissioner, rendered good service to the Expedition. From his acquaintance with the Perak River and perfect knowledge of the Malay language he was enabled to give much information, which materially assisted the flotilla in the ascent of the Perak River to Blanga, and also to gain much useful information on the march to Kinta, personally going to the front to reconnoitre.

I beg to bring to your favourable consideration the conduct of. Commander Singleton, of Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove," who acted as my second in command. His services were of great value to me, and he carried out my orders with promptitude, displaying great energy and sound judgment.

The conduct of the Naval Brigade was most satisfactory, and I have no hesitation in saying that no body of officers and men could have worked better. The almost insurmountable difficulties that constantly occurred were cheerfully and energetically encountered.

I have as yet received no official report of the proceedings of the Naval Brigade on the Laroot River ; but I understand they are on their way down the Perak River to Blanga.

Since the Expedition has started the Almighty has granted us most favourable weather, and i am thankful to say the health of the Naval Brigade is most satisfactory.

I enclose a report of the numbers of officers and men composing the Brigade.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) ALEX. BULLER,
Captain and Senior Officer,
Straits Division,
The Secretary, Admiralty.

Head Quarters, Kinta,
December 29, 1875.


I HAVE the honour to enclose, for the information of my [Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty], a rough sketch showing the position of the troops and ships occupying and blocking the Peninsula of Perak. It shows how completely the country is now in the possession of the British Government.

The natives are gradually gaining confidence at the different stations where the troops are quartered, and are returning to their homes, bringing in fresh supplies for the forces.

The Punglemi, or chief of the village, has promised to report himself tOrday at head-quarters, and we hope to gain some valuable information from him.

Ex-Sultan Ismail and Maharajah Lela are in the jungle, but their exact position is not known. The Naval Brigade is distributed as follows :—

At Blanga, sixty men and officers ; at Kinta, forty-eight men and officers ; at Quetta, Kanza, twenty-five officers and men.

As soon as the feeling of the country towards the British Government is more fully understood I propose, with the concurrence of the Major-General Commanding, to re-embark the men in their respective ships.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) ALEX. BULLER,
Captain and Senior Officer,
Straits Division.

Return of Officers and Men forming Naval Brigade employed on the Perak River, and in the march to Kinta (vide Captain Buller's letter of this date) :—

At Kinta.—Captain Alexander Buller, Her Majesty's Ship " Modeste;" Commander U. C. Singleton, Her Majesty's Ship " Ringdove;" Lieutenant John P. Pipon, and Mr. John Grant, Gunner, Her Majesty's Ship "Modeste;" Dr. A. Gonham, Surgeon, "Ringdove;" Mr. W. C. Gillies, Assistant-Paymaster; Mr. G. Smith Midshipman, and 28 petty officers and seamen, Her Majesty's ship "Modeste;" 13 petty officers and seamen Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove." Total—7 officers, 41 seamen.

At Blanga.—Mr. Walter T. Warren, Sub-Lieutenant, Her Majesty's ship "Modeste" ; Mr. T. B. Hughes, Navigating Sub-Lieutenant, Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove"; Dr. Charles C. Gedding, Surgeon, and six petty officers and seamen, Her Majesty's ship "Modeste"; 11 petty officers and men, Her Majesty's ship "Ringdove"; two petty officers and men, Her Majesty's ship "Thistle." Total 3 officers, 19 seamen. Grand total—10 officers, 60 seamen.


Names of Prominent People Mentioned[edit]

  • Abbot, T. F. : Thomas F. Abbot, Sub-Lieutenant in charge of Seamen, HMS Thistle and in charge of the Residency, Bandhar Bahru, Residency of Perak
  • Abdullah: Sultan Abdullah Mahomed Shah, son of the late Sultan Jaffir Al Maatham Shah
  • Ahmid: Ahmid, Head Boatman,
  • Amiel: Amiel, Major
  • Anderson: Anderson, Corporal,
  • Anson, A. E. H. : Major General Archibald Edward Harbord Anson, Colonel, Lieutenant-Governor of Penang and Special Political Agent in Songir Ujong, with reference to the operations there
  • Arshad: Arshad, Mr. Birch's Interpreter, Residency of Perak
  • Autas: Rajah Autas, Yam Tuan Besar
  • Bacon, E. : Edward Bacon, Staff, Residency of Perak
  • Ball, J. : Jasper Ball, Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry
  • Bayly W. V. : Wentworth V. Bayly, Lieutenant, HMS Ringdove and Superintendant of Durian Sebatang Transport Service
  • Birch, J. W.W. : James Wheeler Woodford Birch, commonly known as J. W. W. Birch, first British Resident in Perak, The Federated Malay States (FMS)
  • Beaty, M. S. : M. S. Beaty, Navigating Sub-Lieutenant, HMS Modeste
  • Bonnett, H. : Harry Bonnett, A. B. (Blue Jacket)
  • Booth: Booth, Lieutenant,
  • Bruce, J. : John Bruce, Commander, HMS Fly
  • Buller, A. : Alexander Buller, Captain, HMS Modeste and Senior Officer, Straits Division, The Secretary, Admiralty[1][2]
  • Clay: Clay, Colonel
  • Colborne F. : The Honourable Francis Colborne, C. B., Major-General, Commanding Forces, China and the Straits Settlements
  • Daly: Daly, the Colonial Engineer
  • Dam: Rajah Dam
  • Doolah: Doolah, Boatman
  • Drake: Drake, Navigating Lieutenant
  • Dunlop, S. : Samuel Dunlop, Major, Royal Artillery and Her Majesty's Special Commissioner
  • Elliot: Elliot, Lieutenant, *Fay: Fay, Private
  • Forsyth: Forsyth, Lieutenant, HMS Fly
  • Garforth, E. S. J. : Edward St. John Garforth, Commander, HMS Philomel, Naval Brigade attached to Laroot Field Force
  • Gedding, C. C. : Dr. Charles C. Gedding, Surgeon, HMS Modeste
  • Gillies, W. C. : William C. Gillies, Assistant-Paymaster, HMS Modeste and Clerk to Captain Alexander Buller
  • Gorham, A. : Dr. Anthony Gorham, Surgeon, HMS Ringdove
  • Grant, J.: John Grant, Gunner, HMS Modeste
  • Harrison, T. F. : Thos. F. Harrison, Assistant Paymaster, HMS Modeste
  • Hill: Hill, Lieutenant-Colonel
  • Sersing, H.: Hit Sersing, Sepoy
  • Hawkins: Hawkins, Major (Brigade Major)
  • Hughes, T. B. : Mr. T. B. Hughes, Navigating Sub-Lieutenant, HMS Ringdove
  • Huntley: Huntley, Lieutenant, 1st Battalion, 10th Regiment
  • Innes, R. E. : William Innes, Captain, Royal Engineers and Acting Assistant Special Commissioner[3]
  • Ismail: [Sultan Ismail also Ismael]
  • Jervois, W. F. D. : Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, Lieutenant-Governor[4]
  • Kenn: Kenn,
  • Keyt, J. T. : J. T. Keyt, Staff, Residency of perak
  • Khan, Kaleh: Kaleh Khan, Private, The Resident's Guard, Residency of Perak, FMS
  • Laggis: [Laggis also Lagis], Inspector
  • Laroot, D. : Dim Laroot, Boatman
  • Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty
  • Lowe: Lowe, Lieutenant,
  • Llyod: Dr. Llyod, Surgeon, HMS Fly
  • [Maharajah Lela also Dato Maharajalela]
  • Mahmoud: Rajah Mahmoud
  • Mahomed: Mahomed, Boatman
  • McNair, J. F. A. : John Frederick Adolphus McNair, Major, Royal Artillery and Her Majesty's Chief Commissioner for Perak
  • Moar: Datu of Moar
  • Mohomed: Mohomed, Boatman
  • Montgomery, J. P. : James P. Montgomery, Sub Lieutenant, HMS Modeste
  • Needham E. T. : Edward T. Needham, Lieutenant and Temporary Commander, HMS Modeste
  • Noor, M. : Mahomed Noor, private servant of Mr. Birch,
  • Matthewson, A. : Alexander Matthewson, Chief Gunner's Mate, HMS Ringdove
  • Mustapha: Mustapha, Cook, Residency of Perak
  • Paton: Paton, Lieutenant
  • Pipon, J. P.: John P. Pipon, Lieutenant, HMS Modeste
  • Plunkett: The Honourable H. Plunkett, C. B., Superintendent of Police, Penang
  • Poore R. : Richard Poore, Sub-Lieutenant
  • Randell: Dr. Randell, Principal Civil Medical Officer, Straits Settlements
  • Robinson, W. G. W. : W. G. W. Robinson, Commisary, The Control Department
  • Ross: Ross, Brigadier-General
  • Ross, D. M. : D. M. Ross, Sub-Lieutenant
  • Rozelle: Rozelle,
  • Ryder, A. P. :Alfred Phillipps Ryder, Vice-Admiral, Commander-in-Chief, China Station[5][6]
  • Saga: Datu Saga also Datu Sajar,
  • Singh, C. : Chet Singh, Corporal Sepoy
  • Singh, K. : Karet Singh, Sepoy
  • Singh, M. : Mya Singh, Sepoy
  • Singleton, U. C.: Uvedale C. Singleton, Commander, HMS Ringdove
  • Sloper, D. : David Sloper, A. B. (Blue Jacket)
  • Smith M. G. : Mansfield G. Smith, Midshipman, HMS Modeste and Aide-De-Camp to Captain Alexander Buller
  • Soul W. J. : William J. Soul, Leading Seaman and Seaman Gunner, HMS Philomel
  • Stirling, F. : Francis Stirling, Commander and Senior Officer, Straits of Malacca
  • Swettenham, F. A. S. : Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, Deputy or Assistant Special Commissioner for Perak, FMS
  • Thompson, H. : Henry Thompson, A. B. (Blue Jacket)
  • Townsend: Dr. Townsend
  • Tyler: Tyler, Boatswain, HMS Thistle
  • Vosper: Vosper, Boatswain, HMS Fly
  • Walker, T. P. : Thomas P. Walker, Midshipman, HMS Modeste
  • Warhe: Warhe, Inspector
  • Warren, W.T.: Walter T. Warren, Sub-Lieutenant, HMS Modeste
  • Welner: Welner, Captain, Colonial Steamer Pluto
  • Whitla: Whitla, Captain, 10th Regiment
  • Williams, R. W. : Robert W. Williams, Surgeon, Royal Navy, HMS Philomel
  • Wood R. T. : Robert T. Wood, Senior Lieutenant, HMS Philomel
  • Wright H. T. : Henry T. Wright, Senior Lieutenant, HMS Modeste

Names of Ships[edit]

  • HMS Fly
  • HMS Modeste
  • HMS Ringdove
  • HMS Thistle
  • HMS Philomel
  • Transport Ship Arabian
  • Colonial Steamer Pluto

Names of Places[edit]

  • Banda Bahru
  • [Blanga]
  • Bruas also Beruas
  • Campong Gaga
  • Dindings, the
  • Durien Sabatang
  • Jompole
  • Kanza
  • [Kinta]
  • Lahore
  • [Laroot also Larut]
  • Lingey River
  • Lukut
  • [Pankore also Pangkor]
  • Passir Gorem
  • Passir Sala
  • [Perak]
  • Pulo Telor
  • Qualla Jompole
  • {Qualla Kangsa also Kuala Kangsar]
  • Qualla Parit
  • [Quetta also Quedah also Kedah]
  • Rassa
  • Songir Ujong
  • Sri Menanti
  • Teluk Batu
  • Ulu Moar

See Also[edit]

  1. HMS Egeria (1873)
  2. [ HMS Modeste[
  3. Captain William INNES (1811-1875); Royal Engineers; commissioned 1858; Dover 1859-1861; Canada 1861-1867; Portsmouth, Portland and Shoeburgness 1867-1872; Assistant Colonial Engineer, Penang 1872-1875; killed at the storming of the Pair Salak Stockade November, 1875.
  4. Sir William Francis Drummond JERVOIS (1821-1897); Royal Engineers; served in Kaffir War 1846-1847; varous English postings; special missions to advise on fortifications in Canada (1873, 1874, 186), Bermuda (1863, 1869), India (1871-1872), etc; Governor of the Straits Settlements 1875-1877, South Australia 1877-1883, New Zealand 1883-1889.
  5. [ Admirals of the Fleet (Royal Navy)
  6. HMS Dauntless (1847)