b. 1826 Bagenalstown, Ireland. d. 04/03/1892 Dublin, Ireland.
John Lucas (1826-1892) was born in Clashganny, Myshall Parish, Bagnalstown, Co. Carlow, Ireland, in 1826. Lucas was a career soldier, having enlisted with the 40th Regiment of Foot (later South Lancashire Regiment) in the early 1850s. Lucas’ career was unremarkable except for his exploits during the First Taranaki War, against the Maoris at Waitara on the North Island of New Zealand in the early months of 1861.
He had reached the rank of Colour Sergeant by the time of his VC action. On the 18th March 1861, he was acting Sergeant of a party of skirmishers to the right of the No 7 Redoubt, and close to the Huirangi Bush, facing the left of the positions occupied by the Maoris. At around 4pm, a very heavy and well directed fire was suddenly opened up against the skirmishers. Three of the men were hit, two of them mortally, and assistance was called for to have them carried to safety. Help was arriving, when one of them fell, and simultaneously, Lieutenant Rees was wounded. Lucas, under heavy fire from Maoris less than 30 yards away, rushed to the aid of his wounded officer, and sent one man with him to the rear. He then took charge of the weapons belonging to the wounded or killed men, and held the position until the arrival of reinforcements led by Lieutenant Gibson and Lieutenant Whelan.
As a result of this action, Lucas became the first member of his regiment to be recommended for, and awarded the VC. He was soon promoted to Sergeant Major, and he was invested with the VC at a full parade of all British troops in the area, at Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland, New Zealand on 2nd October 1862. Following his Army career, Lucas returned to his native Ireland, where he died following a short illness, on 29th February 1892, aged 66, at his home in Dublin. He was buried in St James Churchyard, Dublin, though sadly the headstone is no longer there. It is rumoured that the headstone was destroyed during the Easter Rising of 1916. His VC is held by the South Lancashire Regimental Museum, Preston.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:SOUTH LANCASHIRE MUSEUM, PRESTON, LANCASHIRE
BURIAL PLACE: ST JAMES CHURCHYARD, DUBLIN, IRELAND.
The image of John Lucas' VC is with the kind permission of the Lancashire Infantry Museum, Fulwood Barracks, Preston.
Lucas' gravestone was discovered in 2017 on the site of the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin, and placed near the spot of his grave.