1 May 2008

Thomas Monaghan VC died on the 10th November 1895, aged 62, and was buried in a common grave in Woolwich Cemetery, South East London. A year later Monaghan's widow bought the ground in which her husband lay and over the years it became overgrown and forgotten.

In 1967 Thomas Monaghan's Victoria Cross came up for sale at auction and was purchased by an officer of the Regiment. The search then began to trace Monaghan's grave in Woolwich Cemetery. The search led to Section 23 ( RC ), Plot 826, an unmarked grave. The same year the OCA ( Old Comrades Association ) paid for and had erected a headstone over Thomas Monaghan's unmarked grave.

In November 2007 the Regimental Secretary received a letter from a lady who, whilst visiting Woolwich Old Cemetery, came across the grave of Trumpeter Thomas Monaghan VC which she pointed out had been neglected and was in a bad state of repair. It was felt important that the grave of a former member of the regiment, particularly one who had won the Victoria Cross, should be maintained.

Woolwich Cemetery Authority would not allow the Regiment to work on the grave unless permission was given by any living relatives to do so. The regiment then went through the legal procedures to take ownership of the grave on behalf of the Regimental OCA. This entailed having a legal document drawn up and signed by the Regimental Secretary and the Regimental solicitors stating that a search had been carried out to ascertain if there were any living relatives of Monaghan still alive. This was done and none were found. Therefore, the Cemetery Authority agreed to the OCA taking legal responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the burial plot and headstone. The whole procedure cost £56 to buy the plot and £330 to have the headstone restored.

Monaghan's grave:
before & after

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 11 November 1862 ], Near Sundeela, Oudh, Indian Mutiny, 8 October 1858, Trumpeter Thomas Monaghan, and Private Charles Anderson, 2nd Dragoon Guards ( The Queen's Bays ).

With Private Charles Anderson - For saving the life of Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour CB, commanding the regiment, in an attack made on him on the 8th of October 1858, by mutinous sepoys, in a dense jungle of sugar canes, from which an attempt was made to dislodge them.

The mutineers were between 30 and 40 in number. They suddenly opened fire on Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour and his party at a few yards distance, and immediately afterwards rushed in upon them with drawn ( native ) swords. Pistolling a man, cutting at him, and emptying with deadly effect at arm's length every barrel of his revolver, Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour was cut down by two sword cuts, when the two men above recommended, rushed to his rescue, and the trumpeter shooting a man with his pistol in the act of cutting at him, and both Trumpeter and Dragoon driving at the enemy with their swords, enabled him to arise, and assist in defending himself again, when the whole of the enemy were dispatched.

The occurrence took place soon after the action fought near Sundeela, Oudh, on the date above-mentioned.

Thomas Monaghan and Charles Anderson were invested with their Victoria Crosses by CinC India, Sir Hugh Rose, at Benares, India, on the 5th January 1863.

Medal entitlement of Trumpeter Thomas Monaghan - 2nd Dragoon Guards ( The Queen's Bays )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 1 clasp: "Lucknow"

Medal entitlement of Private Charles Anderson - 2nd Dragoon Guards ( The Queen's Bays )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )


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Iain Stewart, 1 May 2008