b. 07/1823 Tiverton, Devon. d. 29/12/1875 Exeter, Devon.
William Oxenham (1823-1875) was born in July 1823 in Tiverton, Devon. He joined the Army at a young age and enlisted with the 32nd Regiment of Foot (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry). By 1857 and the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, he had risen to the rank of Corporal.
On 30th June 1857 at Lucknow, Corporal Oxenham would be involved in the incident which would lead to the award of the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 22nd November 1859). During that day, Mr Capper of the Bengal Civil Service became trapped under the ruins of a verandah which had fallen on him. Corporal Oxenham rushed over to the scene under heavy fire, and began trying to extricate Mr Capper. For over ten minutes Oxenham worked to free Capper, despite the heavy enemy fire. What is interesting about the incident is that when Capper talked about his experience he felt not just Oxenham deserved the VC. He also wanted Captain Anderson of the 25th Native Infantry to be awarded the medal as he was on the scene and called for assistance in extricating Capper.
Oxenham was presented with the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria on the 4th January 1860 at Windsor Castle. When Oxenham retired from the Army, he returned to Devon and settled in Exeter where he lived out the rest of his life. Oxenham died of natural causes aged 67 on 29th December 1875 and was buried in Higher Cemetery in Exeter in a dissenter’s grave. His medals were sold with six others in November 1910 for £77. His medals are now held by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Museum in Bodmin, Cornwall.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DUKE OF CORNWALL LIGHT INFANTRY, BODMIN, CORNWALL.
BURIAL PLACE: HIGHER CEMETERY, EXETER, DEVON. DIV. 126 GRAVE 30.
William Oxenham's medals including VC, picture courtesy of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwall.
Oxenham is buried in the Dissenters Section B, Division 126, Grave 30 - courtesy of Kevin Brazier