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Royal Engineers
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis

Early Life (1865 - 1884)

James Haynes was born in September of 1865 in St. John’s Parish near the town of Worcester in the County of Worcestershire. As a young man he was a bricklayer by trade and he resided in the home of his father, William Haynes, at 29 Bedwardine Road, St. John’s, Worcester. Young James was not serving as an apprentice, nor was he married, when he decided to enlist in the Army in 1884. He had no criminal record and had no prior military or naval service, nor was he a member of a Militia or Volunteer unit.

Enlistment (1884)

Haynes enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Worcester on the 14th of January 1884. He was recruited for service by Sergeant John Miles of the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. Haynes’ initial period of enlistment was for 12 years.

Haynes took the Oath of Attestation before a Magistrate at Worcester on the 17th of January 1884. Sergeant Miles was present as a witness during the swearing in process. Haynes’ enlistment papers indicate that he was 18 years and 4 months old at the time of his enlistment. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 137 pounds, and had a chest measurement (unexpanded) of 34 inches. Haynes had a fresh complexion, grey eyes, and light brown hair. He was not noted to have any distinctive marks or scars. He indicated he was a member of the Church of England at the time of his enlistment.

In a departure from normal enlistment procedures, James Haynes was not given a primary medical examination. Instead, he was examined by Surgeon Major G.E. Hyde, the Medical Officer of Regimental District No. 29 on the 17th of January 1884. Surgeon Major Hyde declared him medically fit for military service and signed the Certificate of Final Medical Examination for Haynes on the same day. On the 19th of January 1884, Haynes was given the Preliminary Military Examination at Worcester by Quartermaster Thomas Shattacock, the 29th Regimental District Recruiting Officer. Shattacock also declared Haynes fit for military service.

James Haynes’ attestation was certified by the Approving Field Officer, Major F.L. Harford, 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, who was the Officer Commanding the 29th Regimental District at Worcester. This final approval was granted on the 21st of January 1884 and Haynes was assigned Regimental Number 18458 and the rank of Sapper in the Royal Engineers.

Home Service (1884 - 1885)

Sapper Haynes proceeded to Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent for his initial training as and engineer soldier. While at Chatham he took advantage of the educational opportunities being offered by the Army. He was awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education on the 5th of March 1884 and a 2nd Class Certificate of Education on the 25th of September 1884.

Service in Egypt (1885)

While Sapper Haynes was in training at Chatham, momentous events were occurring in the Sudan. General Gordon was besieged at Khartoum and ultimately slain by the forces of the Mahdi on the 26th of January 1885. On the receipt of intelligence of the fall of Khartoum to the Dervish forces, the first impulse of the British government was to persevere in the war in the Sudan, to recapture Khartoum, and to punish the Mahdi. With this in view, a railway was to be laid down from Suakin on the Red Sea to Berber, and Lieutenant General Sir Gerald Graham was appointed to command the troops necessary to protect its construction.

After completing his service at Chatham, Sapper Haynes was assigned to the 10th Railway Company, Royal Engineers commanded by Major W.H. Rathbone, R.E. Other officers in the company included Captain H.G. Kunhardt, R.E., Captain W.A.E. St. Clair, R.E., Captain G.H. Sim, R.E., Lieutenant F.A. Molony, R.E., and Lieutenant H. Bonham-Carter, R.E. In addition to regular soldiers of the Royal Engineers, the 10th Railway Company listed 39 Volunteers on its rolls, 25 of them from the 1st Newcastle and Durham Engineers, 7 from the 1st Lancashire Engineers, and the remaining 7 from various other corps, enlisted for the duration of the war. The normal peace time establishment for the Royal Engineer railway companies was 2 officers, 6 staff sergeants and sergeants, 2 buglers, 14 corporals and second corporals and 43 sappers. This strength represented only the cadre for the company in war time. At the time that Haynes joined the unit it was in the process of active service expansion. Upon arriving in Egypt it would also employ a civilian work force to assist in its work.

The company sailed from England on the 14th of March 1885 to join the command of Lieutenant General Sir Gerald Graham and landed at Suakin on the 7th of April. A party under Captains Kunhardt and St. Clair and Lieutenant Molony was detailed to survey and stake out the proposed railway line, while the remainder of the company worked on the 18-inch gauge railway system around the town. Sapper Haynes and his company subsequently worked on extending the railway line from Quarantine Island in Suakin harbour to Handub and Otao where it arrived on the 30th of April. During this time 16 miles of track were completed.

Construction on the railway ceased in early May of 1885 when hostilities ended in the area. Sapper Haynes departed Egypt for England on the 7th of July 1885 and upon his arrival home was assigned to the 19th (Survey) Company, Royal Engineers at Southampton.

Service at Southampton (1885 - 1896)

On the 14th of January 1886 Sapper Haynes was awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1.d. per day. On the 5th of August 1889 he married Mary Ann Blackmore at St. James’ Church in Bristol without leave . He was authorized Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 2.d. per day on the 17th of January 1890.

With the arrival of 1890, Sapper Haynes began his sixth year of service. Having found Army life agreeable up to this point, he extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours on the 6th of February 1890. On the 11th of March 1890 his first child, Emily S. was born. Haynes received his first promotion on the 19th of December 1891 when his was appointed a Lance Corporal.

Almost two years to the day from the birth of their first child, the Haynes had their second. Their first son, Frederick J., was born on the 12th of March 1892. While he was still stationed at Southampton, Haynes was promoted to the rank of 2nd Corporal on the 29th of December 1893. The entry of his promotion was made on his service papers by Captain C.E. Haynes, R.E.

Haynes elected to re-engage to complete 21 years with the Colours on the 13th of February 1894. His request for re-engagement was approved by the Officer Commanding the Survey Companies at Southampton. On the 8th of January 1895 the Haynes second son, Harry Edgar was born.

Service in Ireland (1896 - 1904)

Sometime in 1895 or early in 1896 Haynes was transferred to the 14th (Survey) Company in Dublin, Ireland. His third son, William Herbert, was born there on the 25th of February 1896. The entry of his son’s birth was made on Haynes’ service papers by Captain W.E. Rotheram, R.E.

On the 3rd of March 1898 the Haynes fifth child, a second daughter whom they named Ella Kate, was born in Dublin. Haynes elected to come under new regulations on messing allowances under the provisions of Royal Warrant dated 31 March 1898. He elected these new messing arrangements on the 1st of April 1898.

Haynes was promoted to the rank of Corporal on the 15th of June 1898 while still assigned to the 14th (Survey) Company. On the 26th of March 1901 he was also awarded a 1st Class Certificate of Education while still serving in Dublin.

About mid year of 1901 Corporal Haynes returned to Southampton, perhaps on some temporary assignment. On the 20th of December 1901 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant while at Southampton. Again, the entry of his promotion was made on his service record by now Major C.E. Haynes, R.E. On the 4th of January 1902 Sergeant Haynes was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for having completed 18 years of service with the Colours. Although his medal was awarded in 1902, during the reign of King Edward VII, Haynes received the Victorian issue of the medal.

On the 1st of April 1904 Sergeant Haynes elected to receive service pay, Class I, at the rate of 7.d. per day. This action was taken while he was still serving with the 14th (Survey) Company at Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. The entry on his service papers for this action was made by Captain F.G. Howard, R.E.

Service at Southampton (1904 - 1905)

Sergeant Haynes returned to Southampton late in 1904 and was assigned again to his old unit, the 19th (Survey) Company. On the 22nd of December 1904 he applied for discharge from the Army with his total service reckoning on that date at 20 years and 340 days. His request for discharge was processed by Captain C. St. B. Sladen of the 14th Survey Company. Sergeant Haynes was finally discharged at Southampton on the 16th of January 1905 on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. His total service on that date was 21 years exactly. On his discharge papers Haynes is described as being 39 years and 4 months old. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches. He was described as having a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. A slight birthmark over his left eye was listed as his only distinctive mark. His trade at the time of his discharge was listed as Bricklayer. Sergeant Haynes was in possession of a 1st Class Certificate of Education when he left the Army. He indicated that his intended place of residence was to be 67 Upper Boundary Road in Derby.

Haynes’ discharge was confirmed by Colonel R.C. Hellard, Officer Commanding Survey Companies, Royal Engineers. His conduct was rated as "Exemplary" and as for his special qualifications for employment, he was noted to be a "very good surveyor."

Final Years (1905 - 1948)

James Haynes lived another 43 years after his discharge from the Army. He died on the 19th of December 1948 at Morgreer Hospital, West End Road at the age of 83. The causes of his death were listed as senile dementia and arteriosclerosis. At the time of his death Haynes was a Royal Engineer Pensioner receiving 93 Pounds, 19 Shillings and 4 Pence per year. His death was registered by the Royal Engineers Regimental Paymaster at Whitchurch, Hampshire on the 4th of January 1949.



1. CONOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. The Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.
2. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.
3. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.
4. PORTER, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume II. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.
5. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.


1. WO97/5082. Soldier’s Service Papers. Public Record Office, London. Papers consisting of the following documents:

a. Army Form B. 265. Short Service Attestation.

Description on Enlistment

b. Army Form B. 268. Proceedings on Discharge.

Statement of Services

Military History Sheet

c. Army Form O. 1707. Death Certificate of Pensioner.

2. WO100/64. Medal Roll: Egypt 1882 Medal with clasp [SUAKIN 1885], 10th Company, Royal Engineers.
3. WO102/17. Medal Roll: Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Public Record Office, London.


1. Hart’s Army List, 1895.
2. Monthly Army List, January 1884.
3. Monthly Army List, June 1890.