b. 1826 Killala, County Mayo, Ireland. d. 26/10/1866 Shorncliffe, Kent.
Patrick McHale (1826-1866) was born in Killala, County Mayo, Ireland in 1826. He enlisted with the 5th Regiment of Foot (later Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) as a 6ft 2in recruit on 18th December 1847. Six months later, the regiment sailed to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, where it stayed until the outbreak of the Mutiny nine years later. The 5th was one of the regiments closest to India and were soon attached to the columns that relieved isolated European posts. One such defensive setting was the small garrison at Arrah where eight British and sixty Sikhs held off 2,000 rebels for ten days. On 3rd August 1857, led by Major Vincent Eyre of the Bengal Artillery, the 5th attacked and drove off the mutinous sepoys.
The regiment then joined Havelock’s column and were part of the relief force column that forced its way into the Residency of Lucknow on 25th September 1857. Private McHale as part of that force, then performed two separate acts of gallantry which would lead to the award of the VC on 19th June 1860. Firstly, on 2nd October 1857 at Lucknow, he was the first man to lead the assault and capture of one of the guns at the Cawnpore Battery; and again on the 22nd December 1857, he again, with a bold charge, took possession of one of the enemy’s guns, which had sent several rounds of grape through his company. On every occasion of the attack, he was the first to meet the enemy, who were so distracted by his courage, it left little for the support soldiers to do.
After the Second Relief of Lucknow in November, McHale and his regiment stayed with General Sir James Outram at the Alumbagh from where the men could harry the enemy until Sir Colin Campbell’s main force returned in March 1858. McHale received his VC from Lady Hersey at Fort William, Calcutta on 12th December 1860. He returned to England shortly afterwards, and remained in the Army. On 26th October 1866, he died whilst on duty at Shorncliffe, Kent. He was buried in the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. His comrades decided to erect an impressive gravestone in his honour. His medals are held by the Northumberland Fusiliers Museum, Alnwick Castle.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS MUSEUM, ALNWICK CASTLE.
BURIAL PLACE: SHORNCLIFFE MILITARY CEMETERY, KENT.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
SECTION I - UPPER RIGHT