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John Copley Addison

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Captain John Copley Addison R.E. (1852-1887)


1888 Obituary [1]

CAPTAIN JOHN COPLEY ADDISON, R.E., was born on the 19th of August, 1852. He was the elder son of Mr. John Addison M.Inst.C.E.

He was educated at Cheltenham, where he earned distinction, and gained many prizes, leaving that College at the head of the Military and Civil Department. Immediately afterwards, being second on the list of the successful candidates in the open competitive examination, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

On subsequently passing out as the most distinguished Cadet of his year, he received, together with several other prizes, the "Pollock” Gold Medal; it being the last occasion on which this medal was presented personally by the venerable General whose name it bears. His commission in the Royal Engineers was dated the 6th of January 1872. After passing through the usual course of instruction at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, he sailed for India on the 24th of October 1874 ; and on arrival was posted to the Bengal Sappers at Roorkee. He joined the Public Works Department, as assistant engineer 2nd grade, on the 20th of January 1876, and was posted to the Central Provinces for employment at the military station of Kamptee. At this station he remained np to the 2Gth of January 1879, except for a short time from December 1876 to May 1877, when he was attached to the Survey of the Nagpur and Chattis-garh Railway (now the Bengal Nagpur Line).

During his employment at Kamptee he had the supervision and construction of many important military buildings. The executive engineer under whom he was working reported as follows:- “I consider that Lieut. Addison, R.E., during the time he has been attached to the Kanham Division, has always displayed considerable physical energy in the discharge of his duties. I am of opinion, that as regards practical work, he has shown great aptitude and efficiency, and that his management of those under his authority, both departmental subordinates and contractors (with their workmen), has been all that could be desired.”

From Kamptee he was appointed to officiate as assistant secretary to the Chief Commissioner C.P., and secretary to the chief engineer, in which capacity he worked until September 1879, when he was ordered on field service for the Afghan Campaign 1878-80.

On his leaving, the Chief Commissioner submitted the following report to the Government of India:- "Lieut. Addison has shown himself to be a most able and scientific engineer, and is also practically good, and most zealous in his work. The Chief Commissioner also expresses a hope that, on his return from service, he may be reposted to these Provinces.”

Lieut. Addison was attached to the Kuram Valley Force, under the late Colonel Holmes, R.E., and did the duty of Adjutant of Royal Engineers ; he obtained the Afghan medal for his services. After his return from field service on the 11th of November 1880, he was posted on special duty to the chief engineer’s office of Nagpur, where he was engaged on a project for re-modelling the Sitabuldi Hill Fort. This important work he carried out in a most satisfactory manner.

Lieut. Addison obtained furlough to England for eighteen months in 1883, during which period he was under instruction in Photography, Telegraphy, and Submarine Mining, at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, and made himself proficient in these subjects. He attained the rank of captain on the 8th of January 1884.

He married while in England, and returning with his wife to India on the 28th of November 1884, he resumed his duties as assistant secretary to Chief Commissioner C.P., and secretary to Chief Engineer P.W.D., and continued in this capacity up to December 1886, when he was transferred to the executive charge of the Saugor Division.

On the breaking up of this division in April 1887, Captain Addison was posted to the charge of the Hoshangabad Division. During most of the thirteen years that he served in India, his duties had been of a very arduous and responsible character. He however rapidly acquired experience, affording a bright prospect for his future career, unhappily brought to a close by his death, which occurred at Hoshangabad on the 22nd of June 1887, from heat apoplexy. He was in his 35th year.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 5th of March, 1878. Captain Addison was held in high esteem, especially by his superior officers. The late Colonel Nape, R.E., formerly chief engineer C.P., described him as a most able young fellow, an honour to his profession, and further a favourite with all that knew him.” Colonel Ward, R.E., at present Chief Engineer C.P., says, “His sad death is a great loss to us all, both officially, and in many other ways. He was an excellent officer, and did his work well and thoroughly ; in private life his kindness and amiability had endeared him to all his comrades. There is a universal feeling of sadness among ail his acquaintances in these Provinces.” A high sense of duty was his guiding principle through life.


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