Meritorious Service Medal, EVII, Sjt Major Charles Aires, 31st Foot, and long serving Yeoman of the Guards, with an incredible story.
Officially impressed: “Sjt: Mjr: C. Aires. 31st Foot.”
Obituary in the Fulham Chronicle 18th April 1919:
“SERGEANT-MAJOR AIRES, DEATH AT A RIPE OLD AGE
HIS REMARKABLE RECORD
Another Westminster worthy has passed away in the person of Mr Charles Aires, No 84 Vincent-Square, whose death last week at the ripe age of 88 years.
His military record dates from May 1847, when he joined the 31st Regiment (now the East Surreys) until the present time, for as the Yeomen of the Guard, according to the Army List, is a part of the Army, and as he was never placed on the retired list he was actually ‘on the strength’ for 72 years less a few days. His active service included the Crimean campaign (1854-5) where he took part in the siege of Sebastopol, and for which he received the medal with clasp, and the Turkish medal.
In 1860 and the following 2 years he served in the North China expedition, taking part in the capture of the Taku Forts and in the occupation of Tientsin, for which he was awarded the medal and clasp.
He was also in the regiment told off for the suppression of the Taiping rebels, and was present at the storming and capture of Narshin, Nan-jao, Tsolin, and other places as well as the relief and recapture of Khadin.
In 1872 the Duke of Cambridge appointed him Yeoman of H.M. Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard, in which he held rank as Sergeant Major to the date of his death. In addition to the decorations for his active service, Mr Aires was the recipient of the long service medal, that for meritorious service, Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Medal with clasp for the Diamond Jubilee, King Edward’s Coronation, and that for King George’s Coronation, besides the Royal Victorian Medal presented by his present Majesty upon his accession – truly a remarkable display.
Though Mr Aires was above and beyond everything a soldier, and wished to be known as nothing else, and wished to be known as nothing else, he did not allow his attachment to military pursuits to draw him entirely from the duties of civil citizenship.
He was a diligent worker in many ways in St Johns Parish for a long period during the Rectorships of Archdeacon Jennings, Canon Furse and Archdeacon Wilberforce, and he bore a full share in the public life of Westminster as a representative for many years upon the Vestry down to the time of its dissolution nearly 20 years ago.
He also took an active part upon several of the committees and passed in due course to the roll of overseers of the parish, of which a complete list has been preserved from the formation of St John’s Parish out of St Margarets in 1728.
In all his many vocations Mr Aires was quiet unobtrusive worker rather than a talker. He was rarely heard though rarely absent from any duty devolving upon him, and added to his many sterling qualities an independence of character which commanded respect in a wide circle.
The funeral service was a St John’s Church on Tuesday afternoon, and the internment at the family vault at Brompton Cemetery.”
The award of his Royal Victorian Medal by the hand of the King, Gloucestershire Echo 2nd July 1910:
“THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, INSPECTION BY THE KING
In consequence of heavy rain the King cancelled the arrangements to inspect the Yeomen of the Guard in the grounds of Marlborough House on Saturday morning, and instead the function took place in St James’s Palace. The veterans were dawn up in one of the corridors, and the King, wearing the undress uniform of a Field Marshal, after he had inspected them, briefly addressed them. The ceremony was carried out with closed doors and is absolute privacy.
His Majesty conferred the C.V.O. upon Col Sir Reginald Hennell, the Lieutenant in Command of the men, and handed the Silver Victorian Medal to Sergt-Major Charles Aires.
In addressing the men, the King said it gave him great pleasure to inspect this, his own Bodyguard, upon an occasion when it had just recently celebrated its 425th Anniversary. He was glad to take this opportunity of expressing to them his thanks and appreciation for the part they had taken in the obsequies of the late King.
It was seven years since he last inspected them, and he was pleased to see in their ranks so many men wearing the Crimean and Mutiny medals whom he saw on the former occasion. He earnestly hoped they would long be spared to wear these honourable decorations.
To Sir Reginal Hennell his Majesty said he considered them the finest Bodyguard in the world, and it was a great pleasure to see them still wearing the uniform they adopted 425 years ago and to know they were still occupying the original quarters.”
Award of this Medal in the Army and Navy Gazette 15th January 1910 at the age of 79 years old:
“MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL – The undermentioned warrant and non-commissioned officers have been awarded the medal for ‘Meritorious Service’
Sergt-Major C. Aires, late 31st Foot