b. 1839 Dublin, Ireland. d. 23/03/1900 Philadelphia, USA.
Thomas Murphy (1839-1900) was born in circa 1839 in Dublin, Ireland and enlisted with the 24th Regiment of Foot (later South Wales Borderers). He was incorporated into the 2nd Battalion and was posted to India.
Shortly before the 7th May 1867, at the island of Little Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal, a ship called the “Assam Valley” had anchored, and some of the crew went ashore. Shortly afterwards, news came that the crew had been set upon and murdered by some of the natives, as none of them had returned. In order to ascertain the crew’s fate, a second steamer was sent from Rangoon and landed near the island on the 7th. Some of their crew was attacked by the natives and with a huge storm raging, a rescue mission was organised to try and reach them. With the soldiers in peril on shore, Dr Campbell Mellis Douglas and four fellow members of the 24th including Thomas Murphy, manned a gig and attempted to reach them.
They very nearly succeeded in their endeavours, but, the boat beginning to fill rapidly, they were forced to retire. They then made a second attempt and were successful in reaching the shore, taking off five men. On these being placed safely on board, the doctor and his four brave men turned once more to the rescue of the rest of the soldiers, and by their strenuous efforts the entire party was eventually taken off the island.
Murphy alongside his four comrades, was gazetted for the VC on 17th December 1867, and was invested with his medal in Rangoon on 16th April 1868 by Major-General A Faunce, the GOC Pegu. Little is known of his later life except that he did emigrate with his family to the United States, where he died on 23rd March 1899 in Philadelphia aged 60. What is believed is that he donated his body to medical science, as he was not buried until 28th December 1902. The exact location of his burial sadly is not known, though for a time was believed to be Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia but this has not been disproved. The location of his Victoria Cross is also not known.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: UNKNOWN SITE.
SWB Museum Roll of Honour Brecon
Display at the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon