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2836 Sergeant George Lelliott
21st Lancers
(21st Empress of India's Lancers)


The 21st Lancers (Empress of India's) were a cavalry regiment of the British Army, created in 1858 and amalgamated to form the 17th/21st Lancers in 1922. Perhaps its most famous engagement was the Battle of Omdurman, where Winston Churchill 4th Hussars, rode with the unit.

The regiment was originally raised in Bengal by the British East India Company in 1858 as the 3rd Bengal European Light Cavalry, for service in the Indian Mutiny. As with all other "European" units of the Company, they were placed under the command of the Crown in 1858, and formally moved into the British Army in 1862, when they were designated as hussars and titled the 21st Regiment of Hussars. A detachment saw service in the 1884–5 expedition to the Sudan, with the Light Camel Regiment. In 1897 they were redesignated as lancers, becoming the 21st Lancers, and in 1898 served in the Mahdist War in the Sudan. It was here they fought at the Battle of Omdurman, where members of the Regiment won three Victoria Crosses.

That same year, the regiment was given the title 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers, being named for Queen Victoria, the Empress of India.


George Lelliott was born in 1864. He enlisted in the 14th Hussars between April 1883 and November 1886 and transferred to the 21st Lancers on 1st October 1887 with the rank of Private. The Lancers at this time were based in Colchester, Essex. Muster rolls for the Lancers after 21st November 1887 do not exist so it is not possible to track his exact movements after this date but I assume that he went with the Regiment to India in 1888 and thence to Egypt in October 1896. In any event he is confirmed as having charged with the Regiment at Omdurman on 2 September 1898 as part of “C” Squadron under the command of Captain Doyne. He was by this time a Sergeant. Confirmation of his participation in the Charge can be found in the Appendix of Terry Brighton’s book “The Last Charge”; Sgt Lelliott is also shown on the Omdurman medal rolls as having been at or south of Kerreri Ridge on 2 September 1898, and awarded the Queen’s and Khedive’s Sudan medal, the latter with the clasp “Khartoum”.

Battle at Omdurman 1898

Thereafter the only references for Sgt Lelliott are that he participated in a rifle meeting at Abbassiyeh, Egypt between 14-19 August 1899, and his appearance in the Regimental Casualty Register but this is neither dated nor annotated although most likely refers to around the time he died on 21 December 1899. Seeing as how the Regiment did not depart from Egypt to Ireland until November 1899, Sergeant Lelliott must have died very shortly after the Regiment returned to the British Isles and subsequently to The Curragh Camp.

The fact the Sergeant Gerorge Lelliott died so soon after his time in the Sudan and at such a young age of thirty five it would be probable to say that he died of a tropical disease such as Malaria. This we must remember was in the  early days of medical science and Sergeant Lelliott is like many buried in The Curragh Military Cemetery, died way before his time.


Headstone of
Sergeant George Lelliott
Curragh Military Cemetery


Sacred to the memory of
Sergeant George Lelliott
21st (E of I) Lancers who departed this life
21st Dec 1899 aged 35 years.
Erected by the Sergeants as a mark of respect and esteem.


The Battle of Omdurman

At the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), an army commanded by the British General Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad. It was a demonstration of the superiority of a highly disciplined European-led army equipped with modern rifles and artillery over a vastly larger force armed with older weapons, and marked the success of British efforts to re-conquer the Sudan. However, it was not until the Battle of Umm Diwaykarat, a year later, that the final Mahdist forces were defeated.

Omdurman is today a suburb of Khartoum in central Sudan, with a population of some 1.5 million. The village of Omdurman was chosen in 1884 as the base of operations by the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. After his death in 1885, following the successful siege of Khartoum, his successor (Khalifa) Abdullah


A special thanks to Walter Hall for providing the information on Sergeant George Lelliott