b. 18/04/1833 Abergavenny, Wales. d. 10/11/1895 Woolwich, London
Thomas Monaghan (1833-1895) was born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales on 18th October 1833. He would join the Army at the age of just 14 as a boy soldier. He enlisted with the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) and by the time of his VC action in October 1858, he had risen to the rank of Trumpeter.
On 8th October 1858, during the aftermath of a pursuit and defeat of a large band of mutineers at Sundelee near Jamo, Oudh Province, Major W.H. Seymour of the 2nd Dragoon Guards learned that some rebels were hiding in a nearby sugar-cane plantation. Taking about forty men from the Rifles, he rushed into the crops, when, suddenly, the mutineers – standing only a few feet away – opened fire and attacked with tulwars. One officer was hacked to death and another badly wounded. Seymour was on the point of being overwhelmed when two men came to his aid, one being Trumpeter Thomas Monaghan, and managed to fight off the assailants.
Due to some delays, his and Charles Anderson’s citations were finally published on 11th November 1862, and they received their Crosses at a presentation from General Sir Hugh Rose at Benares on 5th January 1863. Little is known about Monaghan’s life after this service. He died on 10th November 1895 aged 62 at his home, 1 Pellipar Road, Woolwich. He was buried in Woolwich New Cemetery. The grave soon became overgrown and neglected, and it wasn’t until 1967 that something was done.
That year, his VC came up for sale at auction and was purchased by an officer of the Regiment. The search then began to trace his gravesite in Woolwich, and the Old Comrades Association (OCA) paid for and erected a new headstone over his unmarked grave. In November 2007, the Regimental Secretary received a letter from a lady who had visited his grave and stated the grave had fallen into disrepair again. Following some legal issues, the OCA purchased the plot for £56 and renovated the grave. His medals are now held by the 1st Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum, Cardiff Castle. In 2018, they were sold to Michael Ashcroft.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: WOOLWICH NEW CEMETERY, WOOLWICH, LONDON.
Thomas Monaghan's medals including VC on display at the Queen's Dragoon Guards Museum, Cardiff Castle (May 2014).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
SRCTION 33, PLOT 826