Private Jeremiah Sullivan was born in St. Giles, London in 1860 and employed as a barman prior to enlisting in the Royal Marines in 1879. Posted to the Chatham Division, he quickly deserted, an action that resulted in his confinement for over a month when recaptured. In July 1882, he joined H.M.S. Northumberland, bound for Egypt, and went on to serve in the Royal Marine Battalion at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. His final stint of active service was aboard the Turquoise as part of the Punitive Expedition mounted against Sultan Fumo Bakari of Witu in 1890. He was discharged in 1896.