Ghuznee, 23rd July 1839, Private Humphrey Briars, 4th Queen’s Own Light Dragoons.
Humphrey Briars, a Londoner who signed up for the 4th Queen’s Own Light Dragoons circa 1827, spent 20 years of his life in India with the Cavalry, during which time he took part in the storming of the Fortress at Ghuznee during 1839, part of the Afghanistan War of 1839.
Due to return home with the regiment in 1841 after a long period of service in India, he refused and became one of the 150 volunteers of the 4th Q.O. Light Dragoons to remain in India and extend their service, transferring to the regiment that would take their place, the 14th Light Dragoons.
During his 20th year of service in India, aged 42, he died and was buried on 20th January 1848 at Fort William in Bengal.
Engraved on reverse in an elaborate and attractive style, one of the finest examples of engraving we have offered, the naming being accented with some lovely flourishes around the lettering.
It reads: “H Briers 4th Q, O, L, Dns” Fitted with a contemporary silver clip and straight bar suspension
329 Pte Humphrey Briars, sometimes Briaris or Briers, was born in Hornsey, Middlesex, the son of Humphrey and Sarah “Briaris”.
Circa 1827 he enlisted with the 4th Light Dragoons, with service number 334.
On 16th February 1827 he embarked from England for India, he would not return home.
After a long journey by ship he arrived in Bombay, India, on 12th June 1827.
The regiment was very happy to see new recruits arriving as they were in desperate need of replenishment, since the beginning of their India service in 1822 they had suffered tremendous losses, from 1822 until 1826 they had lost about 443 men, mostly to cholera and fever.
Upon arrival he was assigned to 3 Troop in 1827.
Fortunately as he was scheduled to arrive with the reinforcements, the regiment has recently arrived in Kirkee and after 6 months under canvais they had their own barracks built by June 1827. This improved health greatly and reduced the death rate to only 30 a year, a good rate for the time.
In 1831 he joined 7 Troop under Captain Gerard S. Moore.
From 1827 to 1837 the regiment was stationed at Kirkee, without much incident until a severe Cholera outbreak occured ruing 1837, Colonel Fendell ordering the regiment out of the barracks while it was whitewashed, the floors being taken up and the cesspits being filled in.
During 1839 he fought the regiment in the Afghanistan War of 1839, where it was noted that the 4th Light Dragoons would send 2 Squadrons to fight in the war, they were away for 18 months and lost 3 Officers and 58 Rank and file. They took part in the Storming of the Fortress at Ghazni (Ghuznee) on 23rd July 1839, where Pte Briars earned this medal.
On 30th September 1841, he transferred units to the 14th Light Dragoons. This transfer is mentioned in the historical record as, at Kirkee on 1st October 1841 “The regiment was augmented further by the transfer from the 4th Regiment of Light Dragoons, under orders to return to England, of 150 volunteers, disposed to extend their Indian Service.”
On 20th January 1848, Pte Briars as buried by the Garrison Chaplain Reverend R. Eteson at Fort William in Bengal, cause of death unknown.
Briars was in his 20th year of army service and was aged 42, likely due to return home soon to a considerable pension.
Later that year his regiment would fight in the “Punjab” War.