15 October 2011

Following Thomas Hancock's heroic action during the Siege of Delhi and his death on 12 March 1871 at the Westminster Workhouse, his grave has remained unmarked in the Brompton Cemetery, West London, until now. The project to recognise the burial location of Thomas Hancock was the brainchild of respected naval and military historian, Brian Horton, who has made it part of his life's work to ensure that service personnel who have been awarded the Victoria Cross are properly commemorated.

Therefore, a dignified ceremony took place on Saturday, 15th October 2011, to erect a memorial stone over Thomas Hancock's burial plot in Brompton Cemetery attended by the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Cllr Julie Mills, Brian Horton and the sponsor of the stone Charles Ashton. Also in attendance was the Chief Executive of The Corps of Commissionaires to which Thomas Hancock was one of its first members.

Thomas Hancock was born in Kensington, London, in July 1823 and at the age of 18 joined the 3rd Light Dragoons and a year later transferred to the 9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers. The 9th Lancers were present at the Gwalior Campaign of 1843 and the 1st and 2nd Sikh Wars of 1845-46 and 1848-49 from which Hancock was awarded the relevant campaign medals. The regiment was also involved in all three major campaigns during the Indian Mutiny, Siege of Delhi, Relief of Lucknow, and the retaking of Lucknow. However, owing to Thomas Hancock's grevious wound during his VC action he was unable to continue serving with the regiment after the Siege of Delhi. As a direct result of his injuries he subsequently lost an arm and was discharged from the army on arrival back in England.

While unemployed and living in London, Hancock wrote to Captain Sir Edward Walter who had recently set up the Corps of Commissionaires as a way to provide gainful employment for ex-servicemen. Hancock joined the Corps on the 12th March 1859 and was employed by Messrs Hunt & Roskell, silversmiths and jewellers to Queen Victoria. He has since become known as one of the 'original eight' Corps employees.

Medal entitlement of Corporal Thomas Hancock, 9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers

  • Victoria Cross
  • Gwalior Campaing Star ( 1843 )
    • "Punniar Star"
  • Sutlej Medal ( 1845-46 )
    • Reverse: "Sobraon 1846"
  • Punjab Medal ( 1848-49 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Chilianwala" - "Goojerat"
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Delhi"

    For the award of the Victoria Cross

    [ London Gazette, 15 January 1858 ], Siege of Delhi, Indian Mutiny, 19 June 1857, Private Thomas Hancock and Private John Purcell, 9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers.

    "The guns, I am happy to say, were saved, but a waggon of Major Scott’s battery was blown up. I must not fail to mention the excellent conduct of a Sowar of the 4th Irregular Cavalry, and two men of the 9th Lancers, Privates Thomas Hancock and John Purcell, who, when my horse was shot down, remained by me throughout. One of these men and the Sowar offered me their horses, and I was dragged out by the Sowar’s horse. Private Hancock was severely wounded, and Private Purcell’s horse was killed under him. The Sowar’s name is Roopur Khan"

    ( Extract from a letter from Brigadier J.H. Grant CB, Commanding Cavalry Brigade of the Field Force, to the Deputy Assistant-Adjutant-General of Division. Dated Camp, Delhi, 22 June 1857 )

    Thomas Hancock was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on the 8th June 1859.

    John Purcell was later killed in action at Delhi on the 19th September 1857 and his Victoria Cross posted to a next of kin.


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Iain Stewart, 2 November 2011