Lieutenant General Sir Gerald Graham, VC GCB GCMG
(27 June 1831 – 17 December 1899)
After an education at Wimbledon, in south London, and Dresden in Germany, he won a place at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and went on to the School of Military Engineering in Chatham, Kent. At the age of 23 he was already a lieutenant, in the Corps of Royal Engineers. He went with the first British forces to take part in the Crimean War (1853–56) in September 1854, taking part in the battles of the Alma and Inkerman. He was twice wounded and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his extraordinary courage while leadinga ladder assault against the Russian positions at Sebastopol (18 June 1855).
Graham’s great skill as an engineer was put to good use during the second Opium War (1856–60), where he was again wounded storming a Chinese fort on 21 August 1860, but still entered Peking (Beijing) with the victors. For the following 16 years he acted as commanding
engineer at all the major barracks in Britain.
In 1882 he was in Egypt, serving under Sir Garnet Wolseley, commanding a brigade in the battles at Kassassin and Tel-el-Kebir which resulted in the defeat of the Urabi Rebellion (which appears in the forthcoming Big Action Library title, Revenge for Khartoum). Under Wolseley’s patronage as Adjutant-General, Graham led British and Egyptian forces to Suakin to take the field in the eastern Sudan against the Mahdist commander, Osman Digna. At the second battle of El Teb on 29 February 1884, he avenged the earlier defeat on 4 February of Valentine Baker. In the following month, Graham again defeated Digna’s Fuzzy Wuzzies at the battle of Tamai (13 March 1884).
Lieutenant General Graham retired in June 1890, was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath (GCB) in 1896 and 10 March 1899 he was appointed Colonel-Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
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Sir Gerald Graham's victory at El Teb wiped out the stain of Baker's earlier defeat there, as the poet McGonagall recorded:
YE sons of Great Britain, I think no shame
To write in praise of brave General Graham!
Whose name will be handed down to posterity without any stigma,
Because, at the battle of El Teb, he defeated