b. 01/08/1831 Derrylane, County Cavan, Ireland. d. 28/01/1923 London, Ontario, Canada
George Richardson (1831-1923) was born on 1st August 1831 in Derrylane, County Cavan, Ireland. At the age of 24, he enlisted in the 34th Regiment of Foot (later Cumberland) on 4th December 1855. On 27th April 1859, at Bhowaniegunge (Butwa Gonda), near Cawnpore, Richardson performed the last VC action of the Indian Mutiny. After a hard day’s march, the rear guard of the column commanded by Colonel Kelly of the 34th was attacked by a large body of rebels.
He would be recommended for the VC by his officer, Lieutenant Julius Laurie, who stated that as they were in pursuit of a retreating rebel soldier, who decided to post himself behind a tree.
He remained there until Laurie’s men were 20 yards away when he fired three shots. At this point, Private Richardson of No 6 Company rushed forward and attacked the man with his rifle clubbed (he had previously fired the weapon without waiting to reload). The man waited until Richardson was about 3 yards off him, when he fired and wounded him in the arm and elbow. Notwithstanding, one of his arms being thus rendered powerless, Richardson closed on him and held him to the ground until assistance arrived (Lieutenant Laurie) and the man was killed. It was then it was discovered he still had two bullets left in his revolver.
When his citation was published on 11th November 1859, further details had been added about his wounds. He had in fact broken his arm due to the rifle bullet, and his leg had been slashed by a sabre. He had also saved the life of Lieutenant Laurie, who was attacked by six natives, and despite his wounds, he killed five, and made the sixth flee.
Richardson received his medal in 1860 and emigrated to Canada in 1862. In 1865, when it was thought the Irish Fenian movement would invade Canada, he enlisted and served as a sergeant in the Prince of Wales Rifles at Sandwich, Ontario. For his military service, he was granted homestead land near Lindsay, Ontario.
In 1916, his house was destroyed by fire and Richardson, who was 85, carried out his wife, who later sadly died of shock. He lost the partial sight in one eye due to his burns. His original medals were lost in the fire and replaced by the War Office in 1918. He was then chosen to place Canada’s wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia in 1921. He died of pneumonia on 28th January 1923, at the age of 92. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living recipient of the VC. He was laid to rest in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto. His medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: PROSPECT CEMETERY, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA.
George Richardson VC is in Veterans Section 7, Grave 2751
Richardson's medals are not publicly held, but there is a display to him at the Border Regiment, Carlisle