Squadron Sergeant-Major Frederick James Emby



Frederick James Emby was born on 13 July 1868 at Dover, England, the third of five children of Royal Artillery Quartermaster-Sergeant Henry Hill Emby and his wife Fanny (nee Cook).

Emby enlisted in the 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers (No.2687). He served with the regiment in India, where he married Agnes Mayes. (The couple had seven children, two born in India and five in Ireland.) He saw action with the Lancers in the Nile Expedition of 1898.

Emby then served with a squadron of the 21st Lancers at the Curragh and at Belfast. When the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry was formed in 1903 he was posted to the regimental staff as an instructor and was appointed as sergeant-major of B (Londonderry) Squadron. Reporting on the regiment's annual camp at Newbridge, the Belfast Telegraph of 2 July 1907 stated that:

Yesterday the result of the musketry competitions shot off up to the present were announced. Last year, the A Squadron swept the board; this year B Squadron did it. The B Squadron team of eight men won the Ashley Cup from the A Squadron by a number of points, Corporal McDougall, a smart young Lifford yeoman, won the honour of "regimental shot," making a score of 39 points out of a possible 40, and the best recruit's shot went to Trooper T. Graham, who hails from Cavanlea, Strabane. The Squadron team which won the cup consisted of Major E. A. Maude, commanding the squadron, Sergeant J. Murphy (who shot in the regimental team at Bisley last year), Sergeant Taylor, Sergeant McDonnell, Sergeant Whiteside, Corporal McDougall, Corporal Sterritt, and Trooper Young. On the result being announced, Sergeant Major Emby, the popular instructor of the squadron, received many hearty congratulations on the success of his squadrons.

Emby remained with the regiment when it was re-formed as the North Irish Horse in July 1908. However on 12 May 1909 he was invalided out of the service, as reported by the Northern Whig on 29 April:

All ranks of the N.I.H. will regret to learn that Squadron Sergeant-Major Emby, B (Londonderry) Squadron, has been invalided out of the service. He came from the 21st Lancers, with which he charged at Omdurman, when the regiment was formed. Squadron Sergeant-Major Towner, C (Enniskillen) Squadron, went on pension some time ago, and his place has been taken by Squadron Sergeant-Major Wallis from the 1st Royal Dragoons, and the place of Squadron Sergeant-Major Fryer, who also went on pension some time back, has been taken by Squadron Sergeant-Major Aston from the 9th Lancers.

He took ill the same day and died from a heart attack on 15 May 1909 in the Eblington Barracks military hospital at Londonderry. He was buried in the City Cemetery.

On 18 May 1909 the Londonderry Sentinel carried the following report of Emby's funeral:


The interment took place yesterday afternoon, with full military honours, of Squadron Sergeant-Major Emby, of the North Irish Horse, whose death on Saturday at the military hospital at Ebrington Barracks has caused a feeling of deep regret amongst all who knew him. The spectacle was a most impressive one, and its effect was heightened by the Freemasons, of whom the deceased was a member, joining with the military in the last tribute of respect. The deceased, who had earned the respect of a large circle since he came to Londonderry six years ago, belonged to the 21st Empress of India's Lancers, and rode in the celebrated charge of that regiment at the battle of Omdurman, and was present in minor affairs in the Nile expedition of 1898 (medal, and Egyptian medal with two clasps). He was stationed with a squadron of the 21st at Belfast when the N.I.I.Y. was formed, and was strongly recommended for the post of a staff instructor by his commanding officer, and was appointed to the B Squadron on its formation, and settled in Londonderry. Last Wednesday he was invalided out of the service, and handed over his squadron to his successor, Sergeant-Major Walsh, 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars. The same day he took seriously ill. For some time he had been suffering from heart affection. His death has caused widespread regret in the North Irish Horse, for he was very popular in the regiment, being a very fine horseman, athlete, and good all-round man in military sports and exercises.

The funeral cortege left the military hospital at Ebrington Barracks at two o'clock, starting with military precision in a heavy rainfall. It was headed by a firing party of the Hampshire Regiment, with rifles reversed. Then followed the full band of the regiment, which played at intervals the impressive music of Chopin's "March Funetre," Beethoven's "Funeral march," and the dead march from "Saul." Next came the gun carriage conveying the coffin, which was covered by the Union Jack, and upon which lay the deceased's sword and helmet. Immediately behind was led the late soldier's horse, with cavalry boots in the stirrups reversed. Following this in the mournful procession came the B Squadron of the North Irish Horse; a large body of Freemasons, wearing their sprigs of acacia, including the members of Lodge 640, to which the deceased belonged; and a detachment of the Hampshire Regiment. Hundreds of representative citizens also followed the remains to their last resting-place in the City Cemetery. When the cortege reached the gravesite the funeral service was conducted by the Rev. F. C. Long, B.A., curate of All Saints, Clooney, after which the members of the Masonic Order filed slowly past and dropped their sprigs of acacia on the coffin of their departed brother. The grave was then closed in, and the sad ceremonies concluded with the firing of the three volleys and the sounding of "The Last Post."

A detachment of fifty police had been told off to attend the funeral, but Colonel de Winton, commanding officer of the Hampshire Regiment, considerately intimated that, as the men would probably have duty to do later in the day, it would be too great a hardship on them to attend in such inclement weather.

Captain Norman and Lieutenant T. F. Cooke, of the B Squadron North Irish Horse, were prevented from attending owing to the annual musketry practice taking place. Captain Clifton (adjutant), Belfast, and Mr. E. C. Herdman were the N.I.H. officers present. Mr. Pittaway, Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Irish Horse, had charge of the funeral arrangements.

Sergeant-Major Aston, of the D Squadron, travelled from Dundalk in order to attend the funeral of his late colleague.

On 20 May 1909 the Londonderry Sentinel carried the following advertisement:


Owing to Death of Sergeant-Major Emby the Officers' Dance in connection with above Squadron has been Postponed.



Sergeant-Major Emby's fifth child, Reuben William, served as a captain in the Royal Engineers. He was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and died of dysentery and malnutrition at Formosa later that year.

Captain Reuben William Emby at Singapore


First image shows SSM Emby with senior NIIY NCOs around 1905. The full picture can be seen here. Second image shows Emby with the Strabane troop of B Squadron around 1905. The full picture can be seen here. Third image sourced from Ancestry.com, contributor petercoleman06.