b. 24/01/1832 Castleboro, County Wexford, Ireland. d. 27/12/1865 Westminster, London.
John Harrison (1832-1865) was born on 24th January 1832 in Castleborough, County Wexford, Ireland. He enlisted as a Boy Second Class on 2nd February 1850 and served on the battleship HMS Agamemnon during the Crimean War.
On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, Harrison had transferred to the HMS Shannon, as part of the Naval Brigade under the command of Captain William Peel VC, sent to quell the rebellion. Harrison was then part of the Naval Brigade which went on land to support the campaign to relieve Lucknow.
On 16th November 1857, during the action against the Shah Najaf Mosque, Harrison would distinguish himself. During the assault, Captain Peel made a call for volunteers to climb up a tree overlooking the walls of the Shah Najaf in order to gain reconnaissance on the rebel positions. This action was extremely hazardous as being in the tree would put you at high risk of enemy sharpshooters. Harrison carried off the task successfully alongside Lieutenant Nowell Salmon.
Harrison was recommended for, and awarded the VC alongside Salmon on 24th December 1858. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to boatswain’s mate and petty officer, before being discharged from the Navy on 13th January 1859. He then returned to Britain where he was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria on 4th January 1860. Through the efforts of his immediate superior officer at Lucknow, Lieutenant Thomas Young VC, he obtained a post with the Customs & Excise. Sadly, he began to suffer from ill-health through a combination of his wounds suffered in the Mutiny and a bout of malaria. His health deteriorated and he died in London on 27th December 1865. He was buried in a common grave in Brompton Cemetery. His medal is held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM, GREENWICH, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: BROMPTON CEMETERY, WEST LONDON.
IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE
John Harrison's VC at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (January 2015)
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
COMPARTMENT O, 22' X 25'