In Full Regalia in a Rickshaw to Quell Riots

Henry Priaulx Cayley (1877-1942 – see A Banker’s Family) was a naval officer who spent part of his career with the Australian navy. He saw action in the North Sea during WW1. On one occasion in 1917 he reported that his ship, the Sydney, of which he was then second-in-command, was having some “differences of opinion” with a zeppelin which “amused herself by sitting up overhead, well out of range, and thoroughly bombing us.”

In 1919 he was on his way back on the Sydney, of which he was now captain, to Australia when riots broke out in the Straits Settlements – the colony consisting of Malacca, Dinding, Penang and Singapore. He and his ship were called in to help restore order.

Besides more conventional ways, like sending landing parties into Singapore and Penang, he clearly decided it was a time to show some imperial aplomb. At Penang he donned his full ceremonial naval uniform and rode through the chief city in a rickshaw. Whether this fearsome display was enough to end the disturbances there, alas the accounts do not tell us.

I am sure my sister-in-law, who, among her many artistic skills, is a brilliant cartoonist, could portray the scene!


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