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William Montagu Scott McMurdo

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General Sir William Montagu Scott McMurdo (1819-1894)


1894 Obituary [1]

GENERAL SIR WILLIAM MONTAGU SCOTT McMURDO, G.C.B., son of Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald McMurdo, of Lotus, N.B., was born on the 30th May, 1819.

After passing through the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, he obtained without purchase a commission as ensign in 1837 and joined the 8th Regiment in Canada. Four years later he was promoted lieutenant and posted to the 22nd Regiment at Poona.

In 1843 his regiment was ordered to join the troops taking part in the Sind campaign under the command of the late General Sir Charles Napier, and there the fortune of war gave him the first opportunity of distinguishing himself. At the suggestion of the Assistant-Quartermaster- General, who was forced to obtain sick leave, young McMurdo was appointed to that post, which he retained during the whole of the campaign. At the battle of Meeanee, in which his horse was shot under him, he displayed great gallantry, and at the battle of Hyderabad he received a sabre cut in the breast. For his services in this campaign he was promoted captain and was shortly afterwards posted to the 78th Highlanders.

Captain McMurdo again acted as Assistant Quartermaster- General in Sir Charles Napier’s campaign against the mountain and desert tribes on the right bank of the Indus in 1845 and three years later he received, in recognition of his services, brevet rank as Major. In 185142 he was Assistant-Adjutant General in Sir Charles Napier’s expedition against the Afridis, in which occurred the forcing of the Kohat Pass; and in the following year be obtained brevet rank as Lieutenant-Colonel.

Lieutenant-Colonel McNurdo’s next active service was in the Crimea. At an early period of the campaign the inadequacy of the means of conveyance for the service of the troops became apparent and he was entrusted with the formation and command of the Land Transport Corps, since known as the Military Train. Not only did he draw up a most efficient code of regulations for the Land Transport Corps, but he instantly attacked the neglect of all sanitary conditions which was almost as fatal to the army as were the operations of the enemy. For his services in the Crimea he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath, was made an Aide-de-camp to the Queen, and received the medal with the clasp of ;Sebastopol, the riband of the Legion of Honour, the Fourth Class of the Medjidie and the Turkish medal. In November, 1854, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Not long after the Volunteer movement of 1859 assumed a permanent. character it was seen that the force required at its head a man of energy, resolution and judgment, to overcome the indifference with which it was at first regarded and to enable it to obtain the popularity which it now justly enjoys. Colonel McMurdo was therefore appointed Inspector-General of Volunteers and no one did so much as he to improve and encourage that force at a critical moment. His keen eye detected the sterling value of the metal in the mine and he at once set to work to turn it to account by encouraging speeches, addresses and advice. The Volunteers were inspirited to deserve the praise bestowed upon them by a soldier of experience and distinction, and the influence he thus exercised was invaluable.

On the termination of this appointment, Colonel McMurdo was given in 1866 the command of a brigade in Dublin, and two years later he was promoted to the rank of Major-General. In 1870 he was appointed to the command of the Ramal Pindi Division in India. This was his last active service and he was retired in 1881 after five years of non-employment, having been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1876 and to that of General in 1878. In 1881 he was created a Knight Commander of the Bath and in 1893 was promoted to the Grand Cross of that order. He was Honorary Colonel of the East Yorkshire Regiment and subsequently of the Cheshire Regiment, of the Inns of Court Volunteers and of the Engineer and Railway Volunteer Staff Corps.

Sir Montagu McMurdo married in 1844 Susan Sarah, daughter of the late General Sir Charles Napier. He died at Cimiez near Nice on the 2nd of March, 1894, from a complication of gastritis and diabetes supervening on influenza.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th of December, 1865.


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