A Visit to Colchester Garrison

On 18 June 2013, I went with my grandfather to visit Colchester Garrison to mark our family’s connection to Colchester’s military history. We spent a great morning in good company, with laughter and talk and toast and Marmite. The Garrison took good care of us on what was a difficult day for them (5000 British Army redundancies had been announced by the Government).

‘A 106-year-old man provides “a living link” to a little known incident in Colchester’s military and social history. George Manley is the great-grandson of one of 64 couples who were married on 20 October 1856 in a mass wedding at the former Garrison Church in Military Road, Colchester, now St John’s Russian Orthodox Church.

The ceremony was the peak of a rush down the aisle that saw 150 mercenaries from the British German Legion marry local girls in just three weeks. Getting married was a pre-condition for the Legionnaires, who had fought for Britain in the Crimean War, to be granted the right to settle in the Cape Colony, now South Africa.

Today (Tues 18 June) Mr Manley visited the church with Colchester Garrison Commander Colonel Mike Newman, 157 years after his great-grandparents Johann Uhrmacher and Jemima Wass were married there.’ (Colchester Gazette).