Martin Landfried was bandmaster of the 1st Sussex Volunteer Artillery. He was also renowned internationally as the man who had sounded the bugle at the battle of Balaclava.
Martin Leonard Landfried was born on 25th August 1834 in Gibraltar. His birth was registered twice; both as ‘Landfried’ and ‘Lanfried’ and throughout his life the spellings of his surname seem to have been interchangeable. His father was Leonard Landfried, a Corporal in the 60th Rifles with the role of “bandmaster”. By 1841 Martin’s mother was dead and his father was employed a musician on the Royal Navy ship HMS Rodney based in Malta. Martin, aged 7, was in living in Plymouth, apparently without any family around. In 1846 Leonard Landfried was working as a “professor of music” in Dublin but where Martin was is not known.
In 1848, aged 15, Martin Landfried enlisted in the army, joining the 17th Lancers, a cavalry regiment stationed in Brighton. He had obviously inherited his father’s talent for music because on 9th June 1854 he was promoted to the rank of Trumpeter.
By that time the 17th Lancers were in the Crimea as part of a combined British-French expeditionary force. They had been given the task of supporting the Turks in their attempt to capture from the Russians the heavily fortified naval base of Sevastopol. On receiving orders to go to war the 17th Lancers had organised themselves as shown below:
They set sail from Portsmouth on 18th April 1854 and arrived in the Crimea on 14th June, losing 26 horses on the journey. (The Crimea is in modern day Ukraine in the Black Sea.)
The 17th were part of the Light Brigade, which landed with the British forces at Eupatoria in September 1854. They then marched south along the coast in the direction of Sevastopol, 30 miles away. On 20th September 1854 they routed the Russian army at the battle of Alma; they then skirted Sevastopol, skirmishing with the Russians at Mackenzie’s Farm on 25th September and finally set up a supply base in Balaklava where siege weapons and ammunition were landed ready for the attack on the Russian port.
During the siege of Sevastopol a notorious encounter took place which went down in infamy as “The Charge of the Light Brigade”; The Battle of Balaklava of 25th October 1854.
The Russians started to advance on Balaklava with heavy artillery and captured a few local redoubts but they were stalled by a combined force of Turks and the Scottish 93rd Highland Regiment. Then the British army commander, Lord Raglan, issued an order for the Light Brigade to attack the retreating Russians. The Light Brigade charged down a valley after the Russians and came under heavy artillery fire from the surrounding hills, sustaining a high level of casualties.
Later Landfried became famous as the man who sounded the charge of the Light Brigade but it is not clear whether this was his responsibility or not. Taking part in the charge were 17 men listed as trumpeters on the muster rolls. There was Landfried and three others from the 17th Lancers, including William Brittain who rode with Lord Cardigan in the Charge. The 4th Light Dragoons had three trumpeters; the 8th Hussars had three; the 11th Hussars had three; and the 13th Light Dragoons had four. There is much argument about whether the ‘charge’ was actually sounded at all, or whether the troops just careered off. William Brittain, it is agreed, sounded the ‘walk, trot, gallop’ and he may have sounded the ‘charge. ‘ He died in Scutari hospital and his battered trumpet was brought home and is now on display at the Queen’s Royal Lancers Regimental Museum, Thoresby Park in Nottinghamshire. It may be that one or more of the other trumpeters sounded the charge.
© Roy Dutton
The print below shows Lord Cardigan leading the charge of the light brigade toward Russian artillery on the left, in the foreground, Russian artillery fire on the left flank of the charging light brigade, as artillery on the hills in the background fire on the right flank; Russian cavalry wait in readiness to engage the British or to counter-attack.
Charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade, 25th Oct. 1854, under Major General the Earl of Cardigan, by William Simpson
The Light Brigade as a whole suffered 118 men killed and 127 wounded out of a total of 673 men, and 362 horses were lost; effectively destroying the unit as a fighting force. The 17th Lancers lost 109 of their 147 men who charged.
During the charge Martin Landfried was shot in the sword arm slightly below the elbow but he carried on riding until his horse was killed from under him. He was invalided to Scutari on 20th December 1854 and then returned to England. Scutari hospital (in Istanbul) was the establishment organised by Florence Nightingale and her nurses.
One of the wards of the hospital at Scutari 1854, lithograph by W. Simpson
Despite the huge and unnecessary loss of life, the charge cemented the renown of the British cavalry and those who survived were regarded as heroes in Britain, with nine men winning VCs. The Russian’s were sufficiently impressed that they never directly confronted the British cavalry again. Martin Landfried won the British Crimean medal and the Turkish Crimea medal.
The poem, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ was published on December 9, 1854 in The Examiner newspaper. The verses celebrate the bravery of the ordinary soldier and immediately the poem became a big hit with the general public. It was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate who wrote it after reading an article in the Times about the battle of Balaklava.
However, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the management of the war among the British people. On Sunday, January 21, 1855, a “snowball riot” occurred in Trafalgar Square in which a crowd of 1,500 gathered to protest the war by pelting the police with snowballs. On January 29, 1855 Parliament passed a motion calling for an investigation into the conduct of the war, causing the Prime Minister, Lord Aberdeen to resign. He was replaced by Lord Palmerston. The war did end in a victory for Britain and her allies, when, in the Congress of Paris 1855, the Tsar of Russia agreed not have any fortified bases on the Black Sea.
Martin Landfried recovered from his injuries and returned to service in the 17th Lancers. He went with them to India to help quell the Indian Mutiny. The rebellion broke out in May 1857 but the 17th Lancers did not set sail until 8th October 1857, when they left Cork on the SS Great Britain. They arrived in Bombay on 19th December 1857. The strength of the 17th was:
By the time they arrived the rebellion had been crushed, but one Indian leader remained at large: Tantia Tope, a noble at the court of the Marathas. He had a small army and used guerrilla tactics against superior British forces, avoiding direct combat and evading pursuit. The 17th Lancers chased Tantia Tope for nine months covering a distance in excess of 1000 miles. He was eventually captured, tried, and hanged in April 1859. The rope with which he was hanged is displayed in the Regimental Museum of The Queen’s Royal Lancers, Thoresby Park in Nottinghamshire.
“Tantia Tope’s Soldiery,” from the Illustrated London News 5th March 1859
The 17th stayed in Central India for a year before being marched south to Secunderabad on 10th of January 1860, a march which cost the lives of 38 men from cholera and other diseases. Secunderabad was to be their home until the 16th of December 1864 when they set off from Bombay on the S.S Agamemnon, arriving home on the 21st of January 1865. During their seven years in India the 17th had lost 311 men, but Martin Landfried survived. In the 1861 Army List he was recorded as having the rank of Trumpet Major Sergeant. He was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal.
British Crimea Medal
Turkish Crimea Medal
Indian Mutiny Medal
Landfried left the army in 1865 and came to live in Brighton, taking a job in Hannington’s department store. In the 1871 census he is listed as a ‘draper’s clerk’. He remained in Brighton for the rest of his life, living at various addresses in the area. He was married twice. His first wedding was in 1866 to Josephine Barnes; he was 32 and she was 19. Together they had a large family: Annie born 1867, Leonard born 1870, Adelaide born 1872 who died as a baby, Faith born 1874, George born 1876, Josephine born 1877 and Rosina born 1883. When his first wife died in 1890, Martin Landfried married Annie Knight; he was 56 and she was 30. At the time of his death they were living at 4, Portland Road, Hove.
Hannington’s store, where Landfried worked, was known as “The Harrods of the South”. The shop was set up by Smith Hannington (1784-1855.) Originally he opened premises at 2 North Street, Brighton on 25 July 1808, selling linen, drapery, mercery, haberdashery and hosiery. Six years later this shop was extended along North Street, and it received a royal warrant from Queen Victoria. By 1885 several other premises had been purchased and 300 persons were employed by the firm. Smith Hannington was also responsible for funding the building of the first drill hall for the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers in Church Street, Brighton. His son, Charles Smith Hannington and his three grandsons all joined the Volunteers as officers.
By the time Martin Landfried joined the store it was owned by Charles Smith Hannington (1813-1881). He was also highly committed to the Volunteer movement. He joined the newly formed Brighton Artillery Volunteers in 1859 and worked his way up until he took over command as Lieutenant Colonel in 1868. After he retired he was given the title of Honorary Colonel in Chief in 1873. He was so delighted with this appointment that from this time he referred to himself as Colonel Hannington.
When Charles Smith Hannington died the store was taken over by his son, Samuel (1841-1926), who was a Major in the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers.
The 4th company of the 1st Sussex was composed entirely of Hannington’s employees. Martin Landfried joined the company in 1865 and served for over thirty years, becoming bandmaster in 1890. His band played at numerous Volunteer events in Brighton, Shoeburyness, Portsmouth and Dover and he said he trained over 100 trumpeters.
1894 muster roll of 1st Sussex Volunteers.
The band at Dover in 1901
In addition to running the band Landfried worked as a musician in his own right, playing the trumpet and the cornet in local concerts, for example he played solo at the Brighton Aquarium in 1873 and he was the accompanist for the Brighton Sunday School Choral Concert in 1877. In the 1881 census his occupation is recorded as musician and in Kelly’s Directory for 1899 he is listed as a music teacher.
Landfried used to tour round England playing his trumpet in Music Halls in shows organised by the Mohawk Minstrels. These were two impresarios, brothers William and James Francis, who staged sell-out musical comedies usually featuring blacked up singers known as minstrels.
© British Library
As the years passed public enthusiasm for mementoes of the battle of Balaklava had increased and Martin Landfried was able to take advantage of this by playing the charge from the Charge of the Light Brigade in the minstrel concerts.
The Era Saturday October 27 1888
Below is a poster advertising one of Landfried’s concerts at the Elephant and Castle theatre on Friday May 9th 1890.
© British Library
On occasion the profits from these concerts would go to the Crimean Veterans Charity:
The Blackburn Standard and Weekly Express Saturday, November 01, 1890
At the Lord Mayor of London’s Lord Mayor’s Show of 1890 Landfried appeared with another of the Balaklava veterans – William Perkins, who was a trumpeter with the 11th Hussars; trumpeter to Colonel John Douglas. The event was reported in the Lancaster Gazette of Saturday November 15th 1890:
The special feature which marked this year’s Lord Mayor’s procession from processions of previous years, and added considerably to its success, was the presence of veteran sailors and soldiers who had fought in numerous battles in the Crimea. As the carriages passed along, each with its laurel wreath, and preceded by a banner with the names of the various victories ringing cheers resounded, and enthusiastic men and women pressed forward to shake hands with the veterans who had fought at Balaclava and at Alma, at Inkerman and at Sebastopol. A special burst of enthusiasm greeted Landfried and Perkins, the trumpeters who sounded the charge at Balaclava – one wearing his years lightly, the other age-worn and grizzled. The gallant firemen and the fire dog Jack, adorned with his medals from the Humane Society, and the allegorical cars, shared with the Crimean veterans the chief honours of the procession.
© Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers, University of Reading.
Landfried’s playing was saved for posterity in a remarkable recording made in 1890 on an Edison phonograph. In 1880 Thomas Edison had invented a system for recording sound on cylinders of silver paper with the idea that they could be sent through the post as spoken letters. But when the postal service refused to carry them Edison decided to concentrate on developing the light bulb instead. However, in 1885 Edison met Colonel George E. Gouraud who persuaded him to revive the recording project and after two more years of work, a phonograph that used wax cylinders had been created. Gourard became Edison’s representative in London.
Gouraud was an American of French descent who made a name for himself fighting in the American Civil War where he won several commendations for bravery. After he became Edison’s agent he set up home in Crystal Palace, south London, where he built the first all-electric house in Britain. He purchased a railway carriage and set it up as a recording studio. He would invite eminent people to dinner and then record interviews with them on his phonograph. Amongst those interviewed were Sir Arthur Sullivan, Henry Morton Stanley, the Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Duke of Cambridge.
Landfried’s recording was made on August 2, 1890 and was distributed by the Light Brigade Relief Fund. This fund had been set up by the St. James Gazette earlier in that year and had the Duke of Cambridge as Patron and the Marquis of Hartington as president. The aim was to benefit the remaining veterans and inform the public about the bad straits that had befallen some of them. On behalf of the charity Gourard organised a series of six afternoon receptions, known as ‘Balaclava Kettledrums’, at Edison House in Northumberland Avenue. While the recordings were taking place the guests could admire various curios on display including several lances from the 17th Lancers; the uniform worn by the Earl of Cardigan; the skin of Lord Cardigan’s charger, Ronald, complete with reigns ornamented with cowrie shells; and Ronald’s hoof mounted in gold and converted into a box.
The recordings included Tennyson reading the Charge of the Light Brigade, a message from Florence Nightingale and Landfried playing a bugle. In his recording Landfried stated:
I am trumpeter Landfried, one of the surviving trumpeters of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. I am now going to sound the bugle that was sounded at Waterloo, and sound the charge that was sounded at Balaclava on that very same bugle; the 25th of October, 1854.
The event was reported in the Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough on Wednesday 6th August 1890:
The Balaclava Kettledrum at Edison House on Saturday afternoon was distinguished from the rest of the series by the presence and performances by one of the three of the original six survivors of the twenty three (sic) trumpeters who sounded the historic ‘charge’ to the Light Brigade. Of these three survivors one is now a Colonel, another is an occupant of a workhouse, the third, Sergeant Landfried, who is now a clerk in the service of Messrs Hallingtons (sic) of Brighton. Sergeant Landfried, who went down into the ‘valley of death’ in the capacity of trumpeter to the 4th troop of the 17th Lancers, was then in his nineteenth year; in his fifty-sixth year he is still erect, hale and bright, and, as he proved, can recite Tennyson’s famous poem with dramatic power linked with an almost unexpected restraint. He was dressed in the attractive uniform of a trumpet- major of the 17th Lancers, which had been purchased for him by the Mohawk Minstrels, with whom he sometime performed; and he wore the Crimean, Turkish and Indian Mutiny medals. At the request of Colonel Gouraud, Sergeant Landfried- not on a trumpet, as on that memorable occasion but on a bugle—blew the brief but inspiring ‘charge’ into the phonograph which, of course, reproduced it vividly. What rendered the incident, any way notable, unique was the fact that the charge was blown on the bugle upon which the decisive charge at Waterloo was sounded, a bugle which is one of the most treasured possessions of the First Life Guards whose commandant has lent it to Colonel Gouraud for exhibition at the present series of ‘kettledrums’. Miss Ferguson, the lady in charge of the phonograph, testified that never had a deeper indentation been made upon the cylinder of the phonograph than by the ‘charge’ blown by Sergeant Landfried who, by the way, appeared in the boots in which he rode into the ‘valley’ – a fact which impressed awfully the sentimental mind of Colonel Gouraud.
The recording can be heard below:
Martin Landfried 1885
For some reason the Edison cylinder got lost and did not surface again until 1991 when it was broadcast for the first time by the BBC in a programme called A Century Remembered. The recording was not very clear and it was thought that Landfried was saying “I am trumpeter Landfrey” so quite a lot of sources misrepresent his name.
Landfried carried on performing until 1901 when he was forced to retire from Hannigtons on the grounds of ill health. In April 1902 his fellow employees presented him with an illuminated address as a mark of their esteem.
© Roy Dutton
Martin Landfried died on 8th December 1902 at his home in Hove. He was buried on 13th December 1902 in Hove Cemetery with military honours and his grave is a most impressive affair. It was paid for by his colleagues in the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers. The Balaclava Light Brigade Charge Survivors’ Relief Fund paid 15 shillings for a wreath. There is no suggestion, however, that Landfried was living in poverty – in his will he left £1,669/14s/11d to his widow, Annie. His son Leonard became a soldier and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Boer War.
Landfried’s grave in Hove Cemetery. Photo Gary Baines
The inscription reads:
Here lies a soldier of the king and of the King of Kings Martin Leonard Landfried who from his 15th year served his country in the 17th Lancers at Sevastopol, the Alma, Balaclava – sounding the charge at the latter engagement – and in the Indian Mutiny and retiring as Trumpet Major in 1865 joined the 1st Sussex RGA (Vols) becoming bandmaster in 1890. Born 25th August 1834 died 8th December 1902. God grant that he may sleep from Last Post to Reveille. This monument was raised by the officers and non com officers and gunners 1st Sussex RGA (Vols).
What an extraordinary life!
— Hilary Greenwood
- WO 97/665/71 military records of Leonard Landfried
- PRO COPY 1/413/413 photograph of Martin Landfried
- The Hastings and St Leonards Observer – Saturday October 30th 1875 Sussex Men at the Balaklava Banquet.
- The Era -Saturday October 27 1888 Music Hall
- The Morning Post – Friday, August 01, 1890 Light Brigade Relief Fund
- Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Wednesday 06 August 1890 Chips
- The Blackburn Standard and Weekly Express Saturday, November 01, 1890 Balaclava Veterans
- Lancaster Gazette Saturday November 15th 1890 Lord Mayors Show
- The Times Monday, February 11, 1991 Trumpet History
- Fortescue, Hon J.W., A History Of the 17th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) Macmillan & Co 1895
- Dutton, Roy. Forgotten Heroes: The Charge of the Light Brigade. InfoDial 2007
- Grant R.C. The Brighton Garrison 1793-1900. Layman 1997
- History Today Volume: 58 Issue: 2, 2008, article by Walter Harris: The Sound of the Eminent Victorians
- Museum of 17th Lancers