Earliest known photo of Jimmy Durham, 1886
This is the earliest known photograph of Jimmy, described in 'The Bugle' of 27 October 1899, as taken with the Sergeants, at Kasr-el Nil Barracks, Cairo in 1886. Although 'The Bugle' describes him as a 'little dot of 3', he was, in fact, less than two years old. Unfortunately, the full photograph has not survived; only the section which shows Jimmy.
Description of Jimmy’s first photo
This page from 'The Bugle' magazine mentions a recent photograph of Jimmy Durham, taken around the time of his enlistment into the regiment in July 1899. It goes on to describe the first photograph of Jimmy taken 13 years earlier in 1886.
At Ghorpuri Barracks, Poona (Pune), 1887
In this photograph, taken at the Ghorpuri Barracks in Poona (Pune), India, in 1887, Jimmy is pictured with an officer and colour party of the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. He is wearing a khaki uniform and sergeant's sash, and an Egypt Medal.
Jim Birley giving Jimmy his daily bath
This drawing depicts Jimmy having his daily bath. The sight of Jim Birley soaping him all over and then standing him in a stable bucket at the door of his tent and ladling water over him out of a cavalry canteen, used to be the daily excitement at Akasheh after mid-day stables. Private James (Jim) Birley was Jimmy Durham's first nurse. An account from 1894 suggests that Jimmy's name derived from old Jim Birley, the soldier who first cared for him. Apparently good old Jim Birley had as much affection for the boy as if he were his own child, and kept him in a clean and highly polished manner.
Jimmy Durham with Sergeant Stuart
Here, James Francis Durham is pictured with Sergeant Stuart, when he is about two or three years old. He wears a sergeant's stripes and sash, just like Stuart.
With the 2 DLI band in India, 1897
This photograph of the band of the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) was taken in India, at Poona (Pune), in March 1897. Jimmy would have been about 12 years old at the time and had not yet enlisted into the army. He was a boy member of the battalion band and played the clarinet.
In Mandalay, Burma, 1899
In this photograph Jimmy is pictured with 'H' Company of the 2nd Battalion in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar) on 18 November 1899. He was about 14 years old and had recently enlisted into the Army.
In Aldershot barracks, 1904
This photograph of 'H' Company was taken in 1904, when the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry had returned to England from India, and was stationed at the Corunna Barracks in Aldershot. The battalion moved to England in December 1902 and remained there until October 1905, when it travelled to Ireland. Jimmy is part of Captain R M Tyler's 'H' Company and is aged about 19. Again, the Company is pictured with the Best Shooting Companies Shield. Jimmy is standing on the left of the third row.
In the band, Aldershot, 1904
In another photograph taken at the Corunna Barracks, Aldershot, in 1904, Jimmy is pictured with the rest of the 2nd Battalion Band. He played the clarinet - you can see it in the enlarged detail view.
With the regimental mascot, 1904
Here, Jimmy is pictured at Aldershot in 1904 with the regimental mascot, a sheep named 'Robert Canning', or Billy as he was generally known. The sheep was acquired on board the Royal Indian Marine Ship 'Canning' when the 2nd Battalion was travelling from Mandalay, Burma, to Wellington, India in December 1900. Billy was given as a prize, by the officers, for sports on board ship, and was destined for their Christmas dinner. However, 'E' Company, on winning the sheep, decided to keep him as a pet, assigned him the number 9999 and called him 'Robert Canning'. He travelled to Aldershot with them in 1902, where he was free to roam where he pleased in the barracks. A bandsman colleague of Jimmy's, Charles Henry Chester, recalls that Jimmy usually led the sheep on parade at Aldershot. A newspaper cutting (D/DLI 2/2/32), however, claims that the sheep marched by himself out in front of the troops on parade. 'Robert Canning' died on 6 January 1905 after eating the Christmas decorations.
Taken in Cork, 1905-1909
A photograph, signed ‘Yours sincerely James Durham’, taken by a Cork photographer when the 2nd Battalion was in Ireland. The Battalion was stationed at the Victoria Barracks, Cork, from October 1905 until January 1909, so Jimmy is in his early 20s.
Postcard from Newcastle, 1908
Jimmy came to Newcastle-upon-Tyne with the 2nd Battalion Band in July 1908, and sent this postcard to his ‘sister’ Stella Robson, daughter of Colour Sergeant, later Major, Robson who helped to bring him up as a boy. He looks very smart in his civilian clothes, asking Stella ‘What do you think of the masta, does he look all right’? He is planning to visit her and ‘their’ father, remarking, ‘Roll on the 29th’.