Acting Quarter-Master Serjeant

David Shorthose


[We are indebted to Captain Dennis Vaughan, of Milton Keynes, England, for kindly offering us much of the information herein.]

David S. Osment was born in London in 1830.  His parents, Thomas and Charlotte Osment, baptised him on the 16th November, 1831 at the parish of St. Mary's, Lambeth, Surrey.  Osment's father's trade is listed as carpenter and their abode was listed as Keith St., Lambeth, Surrey.

Osment joined the Corps of Sappers & Miners, at Woolwich, on the 3rd July, 1852.  Osment's  trade was as a carpenter.   He remained a private until the 31st October, 1854  when he was promoted to Second Corporal.

Osment was sent to the Crimea and fought at the Seige of Sebastopol, and was awarded the Crimean Campaign medal with Sebastopol bar as well as the Turkish War Medal.

 On the 1st September, 1855, Osment was promoted to Corporal and remained so until the 31st March, 1857 when he was promoted to Serjeant.  Osment appears to have married at some point and he and his wife Agnes baptize their child at Brompton Barracks.  Osment's Captain appears to be H.R. Luard, who he will serve with in British Columbia.

Entry in an Army Register Book of Births and Baptisms

No. - 3282
Date of the Child's Birth - 16 July, 1857
Place of Baptism - Brompton barracks
Date of Baptism - 10 October, 1857
Christian Name of Child - Agnes Elizabeth
Parents - David S. and Agnes Osment
Rank of Father - Serjeant
Name of Chaplain - The Reverend D. Cook, Protestant
Signature of the Adjutant that the Registry is Correct - HRLuard, Captain RE

 In Autumn of 1858 when he volunteered for Duty and was made Acting Quarter-Master Serjeant in the Columbia Detachment.

Osment, with his very pregnant wife and child, traveled on board the Thames City with the main body of the Detachment.


Mrs. Osment, Wife of QM Serjent, RE - 26 Oct. 1858 - Female
Mrs. Linn, Wife of Private, RE - 24 Nov. 1858 - Male
Mrs. Bridgeman, Wife of Serjeant, RE - 30 Nov. 1858 - Female
Mrs. Price, Wife of Private, RE - 29 Dec. 1858 - Female
Mrs. Gilchrist, Wife of Private, RE - 5 Jan. 1859 - Male
Mrs. Morey, Wife of Serjeant, RE - 10 Jan. 1859 - Female
Mrs. Newton, Wife of Private, RE - 11 Feb. 1859 - Male
Mrs. Murray, Wife of Private, RE - 14 March 1859 - Male
Mrs. Walsh, Wife of Private, RE - 26 March 1859 - Male
Mrs. Glover, Wife of Master - 28 Sep. 1859 - Male - Richard

London, 29th February, 1860.  "Thames City", Sunderland, Thomas Glover, Master. Reg. 441854

- From Births at Sea, 1854 - 1890, pg. 35

November 6th, 1858 - LAT. 20.58 North, LON. 20.11 West


On the 26th ultimo, the wife of Acting Quarter Master Serjeant D.S. Osment, RE, of a daughter.

--The Emigrant Soldier's Gazette
and Capt Horn Chronicle.

According to Dennis Vaughan, this child's name was Fanny Marina.

Shortly after the birth, a ball was held on board the ship.  The on-board paper described it as follows.  The brackets are the editor's placing real names to the fictitious ones.


On Thursday evening last, a grand ball was given in the "City", which was very numerously attended.  Among the company we noticed the General Commanding-in-Chief (Captain Luard), with his two Aides-de-Camp (Lt.'s Palmer and Lempriere), Sir George Can't, the inspector of Infantry and lady (Acting Serjeant-Major Cann and wife), the Gold Sticks in waiting to the Commander-in-Chief and his Aides-de-Camp, with their ladies (?) and many other distinguished personages.  The Chief Commissioner of Scales, Weights and Measures (Acting Quarter-Master Serjeant Osment) officiated as Master of the Ceremonies.  The star of the evening, however, was Miss Matilda Wide-a-Wake (Hospital Orderly Hazel), the beautiful and accomplished daughter of old Wide-a-Wake (?), commonly known as the King of the Cannibal Islands.  We believe a matrimonial alliance between this distinguished heiress and Sir John Woodbine (Sapper James Wood), one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Machinery, is in contemplation.  Amongst those who had the honor of being invites, but were unable from various causes to attend, were the Admiral Commanding-in-Chief and his lady (Captain Glover of the Thames City and his wife), the Archbishop of our "City" and his lady (?), the Inspector General of Hospitals (Dr. Seddall), Her Majesty's Collector of Customs for the Colony of British Columbia (?), and the Chief Commissioner of Stores and Clothing and his lady (?).  The band of the Royal Engineers, which was in attendance, played the most favorite selections in their usual masterly style, and the entertainment was protracted to an early hour.

-- 13th November, 1858, From
the Emigrant Soldier's Gazette and Cape Horn Chronicle.

When the Voyage was nearly at an end, the on board paper's editor wrote an epic song and included many of the Detachment's Men in it.

"I'll sing ye lads a Falkland sang,
Wi' thumpin' chorus loud and lang,
I'll tell ye o' the gleesom' thrang,

"At Huthlicaut's braw weddin' O.
The first that cam' was Geordie Cann.
Then Osment too . . ." 

-- excerpt from "Huthlicaut's Wedding",
sung by Corporal Sinnett
at a theatrical entertainment
on 4th March, 1859, on board the Thames City,
found at Cariboo Gold Rush - Primary Sources

"I say, Hughie, I used to hear the men talking about 'Splicing the Main Brace.'  What did they mean?"

"Oh, don't you know that every day when the sun passed over the year-arm, at 12 o'clock noon, the Quarter-Master Davy Osment used to serve the men with grog and limejuice?  They called that 'Splicing the Main Brace.'"

Daily Columbian,
Wednesday, October 13th, 1909


Upon his arrival in the Colony, Osment was detailed to complete remaining tasks in Esquimalt whilst the Detachment went on to Queenborough.

Friday 29th April, 1859 – The schooner with the remainder of  the cargo from the “Thames City” arrived with Sgt. Osment and 3 or 4 more men the last of our detachment.

- from the Journal of Lt. Lempriere

Soon after arriving in the Camp, Osment was assigned the task of getting the baggage of Colonel Moody and Captain Parsons onto a waiting steamer.

New Westminster, BC
22nd May, 1859

Proceedings of an Inquest held at New Westminster upon the body of a Soldier (Sapper Jones RE) which was found floating in the Fraser River by Thomas Pamphlet of the "Brig Cadborough" who reported the matter to the Stipendiary Magistrate.

A Jury having been summoned consisting of the following persons - W. J. Armstrong, John T. Scott. T. W. English, Ernest Picht, Thomas Moloney, R. Dickenson, Edgar Dewdney, W. G. Peacock, John Ramage, L. Hoys, E. Brown, J. Kennedy.

The Jury having been duly sworn the following evidence was taken -

1st Witness Thomas Pamphlet being duly sworn states, that being on board the Brig Cadborough this morning about 9 o' clock, he saw what he supposed to be a human body floating down the River, an immediately took a boat to examine it and found it to be the body of a Soldier in his working dress, he got assistance and took it on board the boat.

2nd Witness Acting Quarter Master Sergeant Osment RE having been duly sworn, states, he has examined the body, and by the general appearance of it and the initials on the stockings he believes it to be that of Sapper T. Jones, RE.

3rd Witness Sapper John Murray, RE, having been duly sworn states that on Saturday the 27 April, I came down to New Westminster from the North Camp in a boat under the orders of Quarter master Sergeant Osment RE the crew consisting of six sappers including Jones.  We went alongside the Steamer Beaver and put the baggage of Colonel Moody and Captain Parsons on board.  We then went to the Wharf and afterwards when crossing from the Steamer Governor Douglas to the Beaver, I being I advance, heard a slash in the water and the cry of a man overboard.  This was about 9 o'clock pm. and on the men being mustered we found that Sapper Jones was missing.  From the general appearance of the Corpse I saw today, I believe it to be that of Sapper Jones.

Dr. Seddall, Staff Assistant Surgeon in medical advice states, I have seen the body of the deceased and am of the opinion that he came by his death by drowning.  The contused state of the face and head would lead to the belief, that he struck against the side of the Steamer in his descent to the water.  I  am further of opinion that eight or 10 days must have elapsed since the deceased met his death.

After mature deliberation we the above have come to the unanimous conclusion and return the following verdict - that the deceased met with his death by drowning accidentally.

Spaulding, JP and Coroner

As the Detachment began the work of making the Camp, Osment and his family had their home set close to Colonel Moody's home on the West side of the Camp.

The green box shows the Osment home.  The large white house on the far left is the Moody home.

Photograph courtesy of the BC Archives: Call Number A-03328

One of the Detachment Sappers, James Flux, was married on the 10th of June, 1861 to a Miss Sarah Gill of England.  They were married at Holy Trinity Church, New Westminster by Reverend Sheepshanks.  The witnesses were Serjeant Osment RE and Bessie Louisa Burr.

Osment also contributed to the Cultural aspects of the Detachment in the Colony as a member of the RE Dramatic Club.

Theatre Royal

At this institution on Friday evening the 8th Inst., the Dramatic club of the Royal Engineers gave one of their theatrical entertainments.  The house was filled both with civilians and soldiers.  The performances commenced by the presentation of the romantic drama in two acts entitled "Ben Bolt".  The principal characters in this piece were Ben Bolt, Ivan Ironlink, and Reuben Rags, sustained respectively by Messrs. Osment, Rylatt, and Woodcock.  The latter gentleman as Reuben Rags was highly amusing, and received from the audience his due need of applause.  He adds to his other accomplishments that of comic singer, and is quite a favorite with the audience generally, frequently setting them in a broad grin by his ludicrous representations.  The former gentlemen played their roles very successfully, showing that considerable attention and study had been bestowed on the parts.  Between the pieces a number of songs and glees were sung by several of the members of the Glee club, followed by a dance, by Mr. Colston.  The evening's amusements closed with the laughable farce of "Box and Cox".  Captain Luard in the character of Box and Lt. Palmer in that of Cox, were decidedly entertaining and played with a good deal of spirit throughout the piece, giving the impression on the minds of the audience of their possessing a very fair conception of the play.  Doctor Seddall as Mrs. Bouncer was rather in the background, having very little room for displaying himself to advantage.  He however, acquitted himself in the character assigned to him very well.  It is hoped he will have something more prominent where he will in fact have more room to spread himself.  We cannot close these remarks without expressing our thanks to the club for not having forgotten us in issuing the invitations.

--13th February, 1861
The British Columbian

A few weeks later, Lady Franklin - wife of the famous explorer, visited New Westminster and the RE Dramatic Club once again performed the pieces for her entertainment.

"The most amusing thing was the women, men in disguise of course, with, as it happened, the gruffest voices you can imagine!  Ben Bolt's (Osment) Lady love covered up his whiskers with long black curls, but not withstanding was certainly no type of feminine grace.  The other woman was a wife & mother and wore a cap - moreover she was not apostrophized by a love, as in the other case.  I fancy these men do all the female parts, having shaved their moustaches for the purpose!  The scenes are all painted by one of the soldiers & very well they are done, especially the drop scene, an Italian view.  The orchestra numbered seven instruments & very well they played.  At the end of the first piece some of them slipped out, as they were the singers.  They first gave us "Here in Cokol Grot" which they sung beautifully, without accompaniment. "

--Sappers: the Royal Engineers in British Columbia,
by Beth Hill, p. 89.

Dramatic - The second Dramatic entertainment of the season was given last evening by the Royal Engineers' Club.  The beautiful drama entitled "Don Caesar De Bazan" was most successfully played to a very good house.  The leading characters were very well sustained.

As Don Caesar, Corporal Howse was most successful, carrying the audience with him all through.  Serjeant Osmet made a capital Charles II of Spain, and was exceedingly well dressed.  J. Turnbull took the character of the old Marquis de Rotondo for which he was splendidly dressed, and which he delineated in the most happy manner.

The more prominent character of Don Jose (the King's Minister) was very well rendered throughout by W. Deas, and C. Sinnett made a most charming Lazarillo.  The ladies - perhaps we ought to have mentioned them first - Serjeant Rylatt, as Maritana, and J. Meade as Countess de Rotondo, performed their parts very creditably.

A number of songs and a farce entitled "Cool as a Cucumber" closed the evening's entertainment.

-- 13th Dec 1862,
The British Columbian

Osment appears to have had at least 3 more children while in the Colony.  One of them, according to Mr. Vaughan, was named Thomas, after Osment's father.

Osment was also a Cricketeer and played with the RE Cricket Club.

The British Columbian, June 19th 1863

The following is the score of the return match played between the Pioneer and Engineer's Cricket Clubs in this city:

Pioneer Club

Pooley, st. Osment..............8
Knipe, lbw, Haynes.............30
Smith, run out.................1
Sheepshanks, b. Edwards.........2
Howman, ct. Wolfenden, b. Haynes...3
Bacon, ct. Howse, b. Edwards...3
Pritchard, not out.....15
Claudet, ct. Haynes, b. Edwards..13
Cole, b. Haynes....0
Fisher, ct. Wolfenden, b. Edwards...1
Leg byes...1
Total 112

Royal Engineers' Club

Wolfenden, run out...3
Hand, ct. Bacon, b. Smith....1
Osment, not out...22
Haynes, b. Smith...5
Butler, b. Bacon....9
Howse, ct. Pooley, b. Smith....1
Luard, b. Bacon.....2
Edwards, lbw, b. Smith....4
Meade, ct. Smith...4
Brown, ct. Pooley, b. Bacon....1
McMoran, b. Smith....3
Total 84

This return match between the New Westminster Pioneer Cricket Club and the Royal Engineers' Cricket Club came off yesterday.  On account of the unfavorable weather it was agreed to decide the game with one innings, the result of which was that the R.E. Club was beaten by 28 runs.

Acting Quarter-Master Serjeant David S. Osment, his wife and 5 children, returned to England, November, 1863.

Upon returning to England, Osment was promoted to Colour Serjeant on the 1st March, 1864.

124 days later, on the 2nd of July, 1864, Osment completes his 12 years of Service to Her Majesty.

The next day, on the 3rd of July, Osment re-engages, at Chatham, into the Royal Engineers for another nine years.

The next day, on the 4th of July, Osment's BC-born son Thomas, dies of Scarlet fever, at Gillingham.

Osment remains a Colour Serjeant until the 8th August, 1867 when he is promoted to Quarter-master Serjeant.

Regimental pay for Quarter Master Sergeant per Diem in British Columbia was 3s. 4 1/2d. plus Working Pay, 3s. to 5s per Diem.

"per Diem" is per day.

During this time, Osment served in Gibraltar for over seven years, where his daughter, Mary, and son, David, were born.

Osment remains at that rank until the 5th December, 1870 when he is promoted to Serjeant Major, the rank that he remains until his eventual discharge on the 28th October, 1875.

"With regard to the CHARACTER and CONDUCT of No. 762 Serjeant Major David S. Osment, the Board have to report that upon reference to the Defaulter's Book, and by the Parole testimony that has been given, it appears that his conduct has been very good.  He was not when promoted in the possession of any Good Conduct badges and would - had he been promoted - have been now in the possession of five Good Conduct Badges and he is in possession of the medal with Gratuity for Long Service and Good Conduct, the Crimean Medal with clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish War Medal.  He is not in the possession of any School Certificate.

His name does not appear in the Regimental Defaulter Book.  He has never been tried by Court Martial."

--28th October, 1875, Dover
Discharge Certificate

Osment and his family then moved to St Vincent, West Indies.