Scottish History

The History of The Royal Scots

The Regimental Museum in Edinburgh Castle

Mr &Mrs Driscoll in the Crimean War

Mrs Frances Driscoll went through the Crimean War with her husband Private Driscoll of the 1st Regiment of Foot. Women were lodged in tents behind the British lines, and "occupied themselves with washing clothes and darning socks and busied themselves in other ways to provide a semplance of comfort for the heroes who fought in the Alma heights or in the fog of Inkerman against such heavy odds."

Thomas Smith, Sergeant of the 1st Foot remembers an incident at Gallipoli;

"Like Driscoll", he writes,

"I was in 1854 a private in 'D' company (Captain Neville) of the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment, now Royal Scots. Our regiment was ordered in March 1854 on station service to Malta, from Plymouth. Without landing at Malta we were ordered to the front.Allied tents We proceeded to Gallipoli with the complement of women, who would not have been shipped had we been ordered for war service on leaving Plymouth. At Gallipoli our camp equipment was of the most meagre character, especially as we had to make arrangements for married women. Each bell tent accommodated sixteen or seventeen men, but where there was a woman, fourteen including the woman and her husband. In my tent was a Mrs McKenna, and in the next tent was Mrs. Driscoll.
We were throwing up earthworks on the Adrianople road, against an expected advance of the Russians. On one occasion there was alarm - "The Russians are coming" We rapidly formed up on our own parade ground, Driscoll's position being just opposite his own tent.
At sight of her husband Mrs Driscoll rushed out and seized him by his coat skirts then of the pigeon-tail pattern. The words, "Loose ammunition", had just rung out from Captain Neville.
"Arrah, Patsy, you're going to be shot, and what shall I do at all, at all?" cried Mrs Driscoll, as she pulled her husband out of the ranks. "Get out of that", shouted Driscoll, as he struggled for his ammunition.
"Will you keep quiet, Driscoll, or I'll put you in the guard room", called out Captain Neville, fifteen yards away.
The roars of laughter which the incident evoked dispelled any concern aroused by the Russians, and it afterwards turned out that we had a false alarm. That night, and often thereafter, in camp the scene was re-enacted - three or four soldiers reproducing the characters' voices and actions in ludicrous mimicry. The hilarious fun was contagious, every tent of the company having its own rehearsal, until the Adjutant threatened the whole company with the guard room for the noise it made.
I saw Mr and Mrs Driscoll afterwards in a hut they had built for themselves under the ridges of Balaclava.
It was a day or two after the articles of peace were signed. "Well Pat, you are not shot yet" I said, as I gave some orders. I can picture the merry laugh and cheery voices of husband and wife at the recall of the incident at Gallipoli, long forgotten in the stress of battle.
Mrs Driscoll and the other women, after the first baptism of fire became absolutely fearless. They did invaluable work for the soldiers of the company. So keen had they become that many of them paid their passages to the front, braving the dangers of war and severities of the Crimean winter."

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