22 January 2008

Medal entitlement of Sergeant Joseph Brennan,
Royal Regiment of Artillery

  • Victoria Cross
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Central India"
  • India General Service Medal ( 1854-95 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Bhootan"

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Sergeant Joseph Brennan, Royal Artillery, have been sold by the medal dealers C.J. & A.J. Dixon of Bridlington, East Yorkshire. ( The estimate for the group was £99,000 ). The purchaser was a private collector based in South Australia.

Joseph Brennan landed in India on the 4th August 1857 and the following year formed part of Sir Hugh Rose's Central India Field Force which set out from Mhow on 6th January 1858 to eliminate rebels and mutineers in Jhansi and Gwalior, who threatened British Counter-insurgency operations further north.

At the heart of Sir Hugh's objective lay the capture of the city and fortress of Jhansi, which was not only the epicentre of the rebellion in Central India, and the secene of a particularly vile murder of European women and children some nine months earlier, but also the stronghold of the formidable rebel leader Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi.

After an arduous approach march and the reduction of several places along the way, Rose's 6,000-strong force was completing its investment of Jhansi on 22nd March when it was learned that Nana Sahib at the request of the Rani of Jhansi had despatched his best commander Tantia Topi with 22,000 men and 28 guns to break the siege.

Rose, fully realising the danger of splitting his force to meet this unexpected threat, put his faith in his men and despatched 1500 - Brennan among them - to do battle with Tantia Topi on the Betwa River on 31st March 1858.

In a successful demonstration of quality against sheer mass, Tantia Topi's force was driven headlong from the field, whereupon Rose returned to the siege of Jhansi. On the 3rd April, the day that Brennan performed his Victoria Cross deed, a breach was effected in the walls and the city and fortress stormed.

[ London Gazette, 11 November 1859 ], Jhansi Fort, Indian Mutiny, 3 April 1858, Bombardier Joseph Charles Brennan, Royal Regiment of Artillery.

For marked gallantry at the assault of Jhansi, on the 3rd of April 1858, in bringing up two guns of the Hyderabad Contingent, manned by Natives, lying each under a heavy fire from the walls, and directing them so accurately as to compel the Enemy to abandon his battery.

Joseph Brennan was invested with his Victoria Cross in Gwalior, India, on the 20th April 1860.

In 1870 Joseph Brennan married Mary Eliza Broomfield the daughter of a Royal Artillery Pensioner and they had two children, Alexander Charles Augustus born in 1871 and Margaret Elizabeth born in 1872. Sergeant Brennan died of Pneumonia at Shorncliffe Camp, Folkstone, Kent, on the 24th September 1872, and was buried in the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.


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Iain Stewart, 22 January 2008