b. 20/08/1839 Dagoolie, India. d. 29/01/1885 Bath, Somerset.
William Francis Frederick Waller (1839-1885) was born on 20th August 1839 in Dapoolee near Bombay, India, the son of an employee of the Honourable East India Company. He entered service as an ensign at the age of 18 in the 25th Bombay Native Infantry and joined General Sir Hugh Rose’s Central India Field Force in February 1858, taking part in the most of the action during the next five months of the Mutiny.
On the morning of 20th June 1858, and against orders, newly-promoted Lieutenants Waller and Wellington Rose, a relation of General Rose, were on picquet duty near the main gate of the fort. Hearing gunfire coming from inside, they decided to enter the fortress of Gwalior on their own. On that day, Lieutenant Rose of the 25th Bombay Native Infantry, who had fought with distinction during the hand to hand fighting in the ravines, then occupied the Kotwal, or police station, near the main gateway. Lieutenant Waller, a brother officer with a small party of the same corps, held an adjoining post. When Rose heard the firing of the guns and learned that some of the Ghazis were still defending the fort, he went to Waller and suggested that they should attack the stronghold and destroy the desperate fanatics. Taking with them a blacksmith, two picquets, and twenty Pathan police, they crept up the winding road until they reached the main gateway, which they found closed. It was burst open, and surprising the other gates before they could be shut, they reached an archway on which the fanatics had brought a gun to bear. The Ghazis flung over the walls all their gold and silver coin, slew the women and the children and swore to die. The gun burst at the third shot, and the attacking party rushed through the archway and made their way, regardless of the bullets sent down upon them, to the top of the wall. On the bastion, the fanatics withstood them steadfastly, and slaying, were slain. Rose, who was swift to do battle among the foremost, fell mortally wounded.
Lieutenant Rose was killed by mutineer, who shot him and then rushed him with a tulwar, slashing his wrist and leg. Waller reacted by killing the Ghazi but was too late to save Rose. It was acknowledged that Wellington Rose would have been awarded the VC if he had survived. William Waller’s citation didn’t appear until 25th February 1862, and he was presented with his VC by the GOC Bombay, Lieutenant-General Sir William Mansfield later that year. Promotion came slowly for Waller, who was elevated to Captain in 1869 and Major in 1877. He ultimately reached the rank of Colonel in the Bombay Staff Corps and retired back to Britain. He died at his home in Bath on 29th January 1885, at the relatively young age of 45. He was buried in Locksbrook Cemetery, Bath. His medals are part of the Ashcroft Collection, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: LOCKSBROOK CEMETERY, BATH, SOMERSET. SECTION H-A, GRAVE 111.
William Waller's VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London
Plan - Kevin Brazier