b. 1820 Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland. d. 10/05/1889 North Shields.
Edward Jennings (1820-1889) was born in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland in 1820. He enlisted with the Bengal Artillery as a 16 year-old in 1836. He served in the First Afghan War (Ghazni) and the First Sikh War of 1845-1846. His correct name was actually Edmond, but a clerical error at the time of his citation shows him as Edward.
During the relief of Lucknow from 14th-22nd November 1857, Rough Rider Jennings performed a daring act of gallantry which was seen as worthy of a recommendation (and subsequent award) of the Victoria Cross, though the actual act was not officially recorded in his citation (published 24th December 1858). During the relief of the city, he and two companions were returning from carrying a message to headquarters, when Jennings heard a cry for help from a European. Telling his companions to keep a look-out, he urged his horse to jump over a high wall and found himself in a narrow street. At the far end he found a British lieutenant (sadly not identified) backed against a wall with a small group of natives wielding swords attacking him. Without hesitation, Jennings galloped forward, and hacked at the assailants until they fled in panic. Jennings then dismounted from his horse, and lifted the badly wounded officer onto his horse and took him to the medical tent.
A few days later, Jennings received a summons asking him to go to the hospital where the officer was recuperating. On arrival at his bedside, Jennings was rewarded with 1,000 rupees for his rescue from his grateful officer. He was pensioned from the Army in 1859 and returned to England. Sadly, his return to England was delayed so much that he was too late for his investiture with the VC at Windsor Castle on 9th October 1860. It is not recorded how he eventually received his medal.
Jennings then chose to settle in the North East of England and became a road sweeper, working for the local corporation (council) in North Shields. Sadly, he obviously fell into financial hardship as he was forced to sell his VC to a private collector late in life. On the 10th May 1889, he died aged 69, and as a pauper, was buried in an unmarked grave in Preston Cemetery, North Shields. In 1997, following an exhibition at Newcastle Central Library on recipients of the VC, Edward Jennings’ great-granddaughter, Kathleen Lough, and her two brothers decided to ask North Tyneside Council for help in a campaign to get a proper headstone for his grave. After £2,000 was raised in an appeal, a headstone was placed on his grave on 10th September 1997. His medals are now held by the Royal Artillery Battery, and are not publicly displayed.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM, WOOLWICH, LONDON. (NOT ON DISPLAY IN JAN 2015).
BURIAL PLACE: PRESTON CEMETERY, NORTH SHIELDS. RC SECTION, BLOCK J, GRAVE 328.
Royal Artillery Chapel Woolwich