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№ 95


17 September 2004

Hammer Price:

The Defence of Lucknow D.C.M. group of three awarded to Sergeant Major John Kelly, 32nd Light Infantry, one of only two ‘Original Defenders’ to be so honoured

Distinguished Conduct Medal, V.R. (Serjt. Major John Kelly, 32nd Foot)

Punjab 1848-49, 2 clasps, Mooltan, Goojerat (John Kelly, 32nd Foot)

India General Service 1854-94, 1 clasp, North West Frontier (2763 Corpl. J. Kelly, 32nd Foot) edge bruising and contact marks, otherwise nearly very fine and very rare

D.C.M. and Annuity of £10, recommendation submitted to the Queen on 19 April 1866, approved by authority dated, Horse Guards, 28 April 1866. The only award of the D.C.M. to the 32nd Light Infantry for the defence of Lucknow. One other original defender, Sergeant-Major Henry Jenkins, 84th Foot, received the D.C.M. for Lucknow. Only seventeen awards were made for services during the Mutiny, and a further five awards for combined services in other campaigns.

John Kelly was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and attested for the 32nd Foot at Athlone, Roscommon, on 21 February 1846, aged 18 years. He served in the Punjab with the Mooltan Field Force under Major-General Whish, and was present at the siege of Mooltan, the surrender of the fort and garrison of Cheniote, and the battle of Goojerat. Kelly was promoted to Corporal in April 1850, to Sergeant in June 1853, and to Colour-Sergeant in February 1856. In this rank he served throughout the Indian Mutiny of 1857-59, including the defence of Lucknow, 1 July to 22 November 1857. He was severely wounded in the left leg on 17th July, but had recovered sufficiently to take part in the battle of Cawnpore, 6 December 1857. Kelly subsequently took part in the campaign in the Oudh, at the capture of forts Detreign and Tyrhool, 13-18 July 1858; and at the action of Doadpore and the defeat of the Nusserabad Brigade of mutineers, 20 October 1858.

Arriving back in England in August 1859, the regiment was met at Portsmouth Harbour by Queen Victoria who inspected them and addressed the gallant survivors of the memorable defence. In common with all other defenders, Kelly was allowed to reckon one years additional service for Lucknow. He was promoted to Sergeant-Major on 1 January 1860, and held that most senior of ranks until his final discharge at Gibraltar on 23 May 1867, at his own request on completeion of 21 years service. Kelly settled down in Staffordshire where he served as a Sergeant Instructor in the 2nd Stafford Militai from January 1868 till May 1872, and then on the Permanent Staff of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, until his final discharge on 24 June 1884. John Kelly died as a pensioner at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, on 22 May 1907. The whereabouts of Kelly’s Mutiny medal is sadly unknown.

Refs: WO 146/1; WO 97/1496.