24 June 2008

Sergeant Robert Grant was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a fellow soldier during the Indian Mutiny in September 1857, serving with the 5th Regiment ( Royal Northumberland Fusiliers ). After returning to England and following his discharge from the Army Grant joined the Metropolitan Police as a police constable serving in the Kentish Town district of London.

A few years later in 1867, at the age of only 30, Grant died of tuberculosis and as was the case at the time, was hurriedly buried in an unmarked grave, along with nine others, in Highgate Cemetery, North London.

Research carried out by cemetery assistant gravedigger and local historian, Phil Seaton, discovered the unmarked grave of Sergeant Robert Grant VC, buried in Highgate Cemetery, known previously only by the number 15054. This prompted Kentish Town crime prevention officer, Dave King, to press Scotland Yard to honour a man who had served in the Met's old 'Y' Division, based in Highgate, until he died of "inflamation of the lungs".

The culmination of the research resulted in Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, unveiling a headstone over Robert Grant's grave on Tuesday, 24th June 2008. Colonel Simon Marr MBE, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was the first to honour the new headstone erected and re-dedicated in Highgate Cemetery, followed by members of the Grant family. Fusilier regimental secretary Captain Tony Adamson brought Robert Grant's Victoria Cross to the ceremony from its home in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers Museum in Alnwick Castle, Northumberland.

Although he tried to advance on Lucknow, Brigadier General Sir Henry Havelock was forced back on Cawnpore, his small force weakened by losses through enemy action and disease, and was compelled to await reinforcements. These arrived under Major General Sir James Outram and increased Havelock's command to 3000 men. The advance on Lucknow was resumed and Havelock's column broke through to the garrison on the 25th September 1857. The loss was heavy with 535 men killed or wounded. Too weak to withdraw, General Outram then took command of the augmented but still besieged garrison.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 19 June 1860 ], Alumbagh, Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 24 September 1857, Sergeant Robert Grant, 1st Bn, 5th Regiment.

For conspicuous devotion at Alumbagh, on the 24th September 1857, in proceeding under a heavy and galling fire to save the life of Private E Deveney, whose leg had been shot away, and eventually carrying him safe into camp, with the assistance of the late Lieutenant Brown, and some comrades.

Robert Grant was invested with his Victoria Cross by Lady Hersey at Fort William, Calcutta, on the 12th December 1860.

Medal entitlement of Private Robert Grant - 5th Regiment ( Northumberland Fusiliers )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • 'Defence of Lucknow' - 'Lucknow'


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Iain Stewart, 01 July 2008