17 January 2008

( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Sergeant Major William Gardner
42nd, Royal Highland Regiment ( The Black Watch )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguised Conduct Medal ( DCM )
  • Crimea Medal ( 1854-56 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Sebastopol"
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Lucknow"
  • Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal
  • Turkish Crimea Medal ( 1855-56 )

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Sergeant Major William Gardner have been sold by his family to benefit fellow servicemen at care homes in Scotland. Dr. David Gardner, his great-grandson, sold the VC and five other medals for £135,000 and donated all of the money to charity.

Dr. Gardner, a former scientist, has given £40,000 to the physiotherapy department of Erskine - a charity providing care to more than 300 ex-servicemen and women throughout Scotland. The charity, which has just celebrated its 90th birthday, is based at Bishopton, near Erskine. Its oldest resident is 100, a veteran from the Second World War, and its youngest is a 22-year-old solder who served with the Army in Iraq. ( Others have served in Korea, Borneo, the Falklands and the Balkans ).

Other donations have gone to the Back-Up Trust, a charity working with those paralysed by spinal injury and to Glasgow University to establish a William Gardner VC undergraduate scholarship, which will be open to science and engineering students in the south-west of Scotland.

Dr. Gardner was quoted as saying "I wanted the medals to be of benefit to people and in particular Army-related and Scottish-related things. I also wanted to see the medals go on show so that people can see and enjoy them instead of them being in a bank."

The VC was purchased on behalf of the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 24 August 1858 ], Bareilly, Indian Mutiny, 5 May 1858, Colour Sergeant William Gardner, 42nd, Royal Highland Regiment of Foot.

For his conspicuous and gallant conduct on the morning of the 5th of May last, in having saved the life of Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, his Commanding Officer, who during the Action at Bareilly on that day, had been knocked from his horse, when three Fanatics rushed upon him. Colour-Serjeant Gardner ran out, and in a moment bayonetted two of them, and was in the act of attacking the third, when he was shot down by another soldier of the Regiment.

( Letter from Captain Macpherson, 42nd Regiment, to Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, Commanding that Regiment )

William Gardner was invested with his Victoria Cross in India in February 1859.

After a distinguished career in the army William Gardner died at his home in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, on the 24th October 1897, and was buried in Bothwell Park Cemetery.


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Iain Stewart, 17 January 2008