b. 30/05/1829 Celbridge, Ireland. d. 23/12/1888 Curragh, Ireland.
John Augustus Conolly (1829-1888) was born on 30th May 1829 in Celbridge, Ireland, the son of Edward Michael Conolly of Castletown, and the Lieutenant Colonel of the Donegal Militia. His mother was Catherine Jane, daughter of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby-Barker.
John Conolly joined the 49th (now Royal Berkshire) Regiment of Foot and served in the Eastern Campaign of 1854, and was present at the Battles of Alma, the Siege of Sebastopol, and also at the repulse of a powerful enemy sortie on 26th October 1854, where he was dangerously wounded, being shot through the chest, and gallantly distinguished himself. On this occasion, the Russians attacked Shell Hill, and were met by heavy fire from Allied guns which speedily repulsed them. Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood VC noted in later life that the Russians “fell back and our infantry pursued them, being led most gallantly by Lieutenant Conolly”.
For this gallantry, Conolly was awarded the Victoria Cross, and by the time his award was gazetted on 5th May 1857, he had transferred to the Coldstream Guards. Conolly received his medal as one of the 62 men who assembled for the first investiture at Hyde Park on 26th June 1857. He married on 4th August 1864 to Ida Charlotte Burnaby who hailed from Baggrave Hall, Leicestershire. She sadly died in 1886, having borne him 5 children: John Richard Arthur, Alice Geta Katherine, Conagh Edwina, Louisa Augusta and Irene Beatrice.
Major Conolly was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and retired from the Army in 1863, and became a Sub-Commissioner in the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and later Resident Magistrate for the Curragh of Kildare. He died on 23rd December 1888 in Curragh, Ireland and was laid to rest at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: COLDSTREAM GUARDS RHQ, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: MT JEROME CEMETERY, DUBLIN, IRELAND. SECTION B-88, GROVE 163-6921
John Conolly's grave at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. Picture: Memorials to Valour website.
John Conolly's medals (not the originals) at the Royal Berkshire/Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Regimental Museum, Salisbury (Picture - Thomas Stewart).
New medal display at the Guards Museum 2016 (Thomas Stewart)