b. 20/09/1828 Perth, Ontario, Canada. d. 05/04/1890 Bath, Somerset.
Herbert Taylor Reade (1828-1890) was born in Perth, Ontario, Canada on 20th September 1828. His father was Staff Surgeon George Hume Reade of the 3rd Regiment of Canadian Militia, who died at the hospital at Scutari during the Crimean War. Herbert Reade was educated in Canada and qualified as a surgeon in Dublin before joining the 61st Regiment of Foot (later Gloucestershire Regiment) in 1850 as Assistant Surgeon.
Herbert Reade was part of the 61st Regiment of Foot who were posted to India at the time of the outbreak of the Mutiny. On the 14th September 1857, the 61st Regiment were part of the No 5 Reserve Column during the assault on Delhi. They were to follow the 3rd Column through the Kashmir Gate. Soon Reade and his medical companions had their hands full with the large numbers of wounded. Ironically, it was not Reade’s medical expertise that would see him awarded the Victoria Cross but a completely different act of gallantry.
He was attending the wounded at one end of one of the streets of Delhi, when a party of rebels advanced from the direction of the Bank, and, having established themselves in the houses in the street, commenced firing from the rooftops. The wounded were at great risk of this fire, and could have been captured by the enemy, had to not been for the actions of Reade. He drew his sword and calling on the few soldiers who were nearby to follow him, he charged the houses and despite the heavy fire, dislodged the rebels. He achieved this with just a party of 10 men, of whom 2 were killed and 5 or 6 wounded. Two days later, on the morning of the 16th, he was one of the first up at the breach of the Delhi Magazine, which had been stormed by the 61st Regiment and with the support of a Sergeant of the 61st, spiked one of the enemy’s guns.
His Commanding Officer recommended Reade for the VC, until he fell dangerously ill. There followed a period of frequent change of Commanding Officers who overlooked the initial recommendation until, three years later, Reade’s claim finally reached the board of inspecting officers at the War Office. After several late claims had been rejected on the grounds of the time-lapse since they were performed, Reade’s claim seemed destined for the same fate. Fortunately, the reason for the claim’s lateness was accepted and he was gazetted for the VC on 5th February 1861. He was awarded the VC by General Sir R Douglas, the Governor of Jersey in July 1862.
In 1864, he was appointed to the Staff and became Brigade Surgeon in 1879 and Deputy Surgeon General in 1880. He was promoted to Surgeon General in 1886 and retired the following year. He was appointed Honorary Surgeon to Queen Victoria in 1895. He lived in Bath in later life, and died at his home, “Sunnylands”, Surrey Park Gardens on 23rd June 1897 aged 68. He was laid to rest at Locksbrook Cemetery. His medals are held at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Regimental Museum, Gloucester.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOLDIERS OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT, GLOUCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: LOCKSBROOK CEMETERY, BATH, SOMERSET. PLOT H, GRAVE 1687.
Herbert Reade's medals on display at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Regiment Museum, Gloucester. (May 2015).
The above four pictures all come from the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum
National Memorial Arboretum
Plan - Kevin Brazier