b. 12/02/1836 Soberton, Hampshire. d. 17/05/1901 Lyndale.
Thomas Adair Butler (1836-1901) was born on 12th February 1836 in Soberton, Hampshire. His father was the Reverend Stephen Butler, and his mother was Mary Ann, daughter of Thomas Thistlethwaite. He was commissioned into the 1st Bengal European Fusiliers in 1854. He would be promoted to Lieutenant on 23rd November 1856, and became an Instructor of Musketry to the regiment. He would serve throughout the Indian Mutiny.
On 9th March 1858, near the Goomtee River, Lucknow, the Bengal Fusiliers with Butler were linking up with Sir Colin Campbell’s assault on the Martiniere. The Bengal Fusiliers’ role was to cover Sir James Outram’s heavy guns as they fired across the River Goomtee at the enemy’s outer line of works along the canal. It appears the works were unmanned and it was necessary to get confirmation to the 79th Highlanders who had just captured the Martiniere.
Lieutenant Butler and four men volunteered to go to the river’s edge and were unable to attract the attention of the 79th. Butler then swam across the deep, fast flowing river and entered the enemy position from the rear. He got onto the parapet and, under fire from the rebels, managed to attract the attention of an officer of the 79th. The message was understood, and the position was quickly occupied.
Butler’s action was recorded in the London Gazette on 6th May 1859 and he received his medal on 8th June 1859 from Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. After the Mutiny, his regiment was transferred to the British Crown from the Honourable East India Company and he became a Captain with the 101st (Bengal Fusiliers) Regiment. He served in the Umbeyla Expedition and on the North-West Frontier before retiring as a honorary major in 1874. He died at his home, “Lyndale”, in Camberley, Surrey on 17th May 1901. He was buried in St Michael’s Churchyard, Camberley. His medals are held by the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY, SANDHURST, KENT.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MICHAEL'S CHURCHYARD, CAMBERLEY, SURREY.
Painting by Louis William Desanges of Thomas Adair Butler VC in the National Army Museum Collection.
Butler's renovated grave by the VCT, May 2016