The 28th had a fine regimental pride.In March 1815 they
had been overtaken by a fast frigate on their way
to America and had been returned to Ostend. At
Waterloo ' the regiment till the close of day
withstood the almost incessant attacks of the curassiers
(sic) ' In its march ' from the
Grand Place of Brussels until it reached the scene of
action at Quatre Bras, a distance of (32km), through the
forest of Soignes, and nearly up to their middles in mud,
owing to a fortnight's wet weather, which made the roads
deep and heavy, it did not leave a single straggler on
the way, but marched all into the field together.'
It appeared they were now due to take their departure for
the "Field of Battle" on the memorable 16th
June 1842. Two days prior to the
departure the officers attended the
Victoria Theatre where Me Simmons spoke a "very poor
composition" as a farewell address to
a full house.
Moreover, notwithstanding the great strength of the
regiment, and the great number of young men in it,there
were only six prisoners taken on board so that Sir
Marice's ' entire approbation of their uniform good
conduct during their long residence of nearly seven years
was well deserved, in spite of cases such as ex-sergeant
Underwood who was sentenced to 16 months hard labour and
8 months solitary confinement by a General Court
Martial for desertion. Underwood
had missed the embarkation of the main body '
through his connection with some worthless female', and
also that of the rear details ' when he again fell under
the influence of the Siren who was then in gaol '
There was great difficult in
getting shipping for the 28th - tenders were high,7 pound
and 8 pound being asked, ' but the authorities positively
declining ' to pay more than 4 pound a head.
Eventually the Kelso, Arab, and the John Brewer
were chartered and of these the Kelso had been
severely damaged in the West India Docks the
previous Sept when her forepart had been nearly burnt out.
" Proceeding by the inner passage,
the convoy did not take the usual precautions of
anchoring each evening, but continued running through the
night. All ships, including the Hopkinson
which had joined the convoy on June 29, ran aground
almost simultaenously about daybreak the following
day,almost due east of Ingham. After strenuous
efforts the Kelso, John Brewer and Hopkinson, all held by
the bows, escaped by 'having the assistance of a large
number of strong fellows (soldiers) to work on the ropes
and cables ' but another two days were required to
free the Arab which had broadsided.
After checking damage at Palm
Island the convoy proceeded, picking up the survivors
from the wrecked Martha Ridgway and sighting the topmasts
of the Two Sisters, which had gone down in three and a
half minutes off Wednesday Island. Before the
voyage ended one ship had been stranded at Timor ' owing
to the drunkenness of our captain'.
It seemed incredible to "A
Slasher" (the writer) that while the
English Press was teeming with 'the numerous
and melancholy calamities which had lately befallen
Indian cotton and merchant ships that not a single notice
(that we have ever seen) has ever appeared on the subject
of the shipwreck 'in any paper, although........a full
account was forwarded to one of your leading journals in
London ' particularly when it was one 'of the most
wonderful instances of escape on record '
The Slasher's Reef (named after
the 28th's nickname) together with the Arab, John Brewer
and Hopkinson reefs separating Magnetic and Palm
passages, accordingly came into existence as a
fitting memorial to the incident.
'A Slasher' would doubtless have been even more upset if
he ever knew that these names disappeared from the
Admiralty Charts in 1889, and were not re-instated in
official favour until 1927, as a result of an article in
the "Journal of Army Historical Research"
Where the sea had failed, cholera
and fever were to succeed after arrival in India. In ten
days the commander and 119 others had died,and the
regiment could only muster 320 on parade.
After eight months 385 troops were dead as well as 'great
numbers of womwn and children' To make
matters worse,Kurrachee (Karachi) was ' a wretched
place,without society'; we have had one garrison
ball, but there were at least six gentlemen present
to every lady, and those ladies who favoured us with
their company were (with few exceptions) married elderly
matrons, since very few officers bring their wives here,
after the affair at Cabul.
The hope of sharing in A$2M prize money was poor