b. 1832 Derby. d. 22/12/1884 Derby.
Robert Humpston (1832-1884) was born in Derby in 1832. Little is known of his life prior to the Army, and his enlistment with the 2nd Battalion, The Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade. Humpston enlisted as a Private, and shortly after joining, found himself embarking for the Crimean Peninsula, on the outbreak of hostilities there in 1854.
Humpston served throughout the Crimean Campaign, particularly at the Battle of Alma and the Siege of Sebastopol. It was at the latter location that he would perform the deed alongside Private Joseph Bradshaw that would earn both of them the Victoria Cross for gallantry.
On the 22nd April 1855, the advance was being hindered by a Russian rifle pit, situated amongst the rocks overhanging the Woronzoff Road. The pit was occupied every night by the Russians and its destruction was vital. Privates Humpston and Bradshaw volunteered to attack the rifle pit in broad daylight, and under heavy fire. They successfully completed the assault and the rifle pit was destroyed.
Humpston’s Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 24th February 1857, and he was present at the first investiture in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857, and received his medal from Queen Victoria. Humpston’s return to England for the investiture was shortlived and he was soon on route for the Indian Mutiny, where he served throughout the campaign earning the Indian Mutiny Medal with two clasps. Alongside his VC, he also had the Crimean Medal with two clasps for Alma and Sebastopol, and the Turkish Medal.
Humpston fell on hard times following his retirement from the Army, and he died at his home, 45 Denscomb Street in Derby on 22nd December 1884. He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in the General Cemetery, Nottingham on Boxing Day, 1884. This remained the case until Tony Higton, a member of the Western Front Association began to raise funds for a proper headstone to be placed on Humpston’s grave. After £1,200 was raised, a headstone was placed on 8th September 2007. Humpston’s medals are held by Derby County Council, though have been displayed on loan for a time at the Royal Green Jackets Museum in Winchester. The medals are now on display in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DERBY MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, DERBY.
BURIAL PLACE: GENERAL CEMETERY, NOTTINGHAM. GRAVE 0276
Robert Humpston's medals when they were displayed at the Green Jackets Museum in Winchester, Hampshire in 2012.
(Picture courtesy of Thomas Stewart).
Rifle Brigade Roll of Fame, Winchester Cathedral
VC Memorial, Nottingham Castle