15 April 2008

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Although born in the town of Cahir, Co Tipperary, Ireland, sometime in 1832, Michael Murphy died in Darlington, Co Durham, on the 4th April 1893, and was buried the city's North Road Municipal Cemetery. A headstone placed over Murphy's grave "was erected to his memory by his old comrade Sir Henry Havelock-Allan". This was Lieutenant General Sir Henry Havelock-Allan Bt, VC, GCB, of the 10th Regiment ( later the Lincolnshire Regiment ).

On the 15th April 2008, 150 years after Michael Murphy's heroic action in saving the life of Lieutenant Hamilton at Azimghur, a service of remembrance took place in the North Road Municipal Cemetery, Darlington, to commemorate Murphy after which his grave was refurbished and a plaque and railings erected around the headstone. This was organised by 8 Transport Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, Marne Barracks, Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Michael Murphy's grave is being constantly cared for by Darlington City cemetery staff with the addition of a selection of geraniums planted around the grave.

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On the evacuation of Azimgurh by Koer Sing’s Army, on the 15th April 1858. a Squadron of the Military Train, and half a Troop of Horse Artillery, were soon in pursuit. Upon overtaking them, and coming into action with their rear-guard, a Squadron of the 3rd Seikh Cavalry ( also detached in pursuit ) and one troop of the Military Train were ordered to charge, when Lieutenant Hamilton, who commanded the Seikhs, was unhorsed, and immediately surrounded by the Enemy, who commenced cutting and hacking him whilst on the ground.

Private Samuel Morley seeing the predicament that Lieutenant Hamilton was in, although his ( Morley’s ) horse had been shot from under him, immediately and most gallantly rushed up on foot, to his assistance, and in conjunction with Farrier Murphy, cut down one of the Sepoys, and fought over Lieutenant Hamilton’s body, until further assistance came up, and thereby was the means of saving Lieutenant Hamilton from being killed on the spot.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 27 May 1859 ], Azimghur, Indian Mutiny, 15 April 1858, Farrier Michael Murphy, 2nd Bn, Military Train.

For daring gallantry on the 15th April 1858, when engaged in the pursuit of Kooer Singh’s Army from Azimghur, in having rescued Lieutenant Hamilton, Adjutant of the 3rd Sikh Cavalry, who was wounded, dismounted, and surrounded by the enemy. Farrier Murphy cut down several men, and, although himself severely wounded, he never left Lieutenant Hamilton’s side, until support arrived.

Michael Murphy was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 4th January 1860

On 26 January 1872, a civilian, James Green, was stopped by Farrier-Major Knott at Aldershot with a wagon containing sacks of oats and hay. Green stated that Murphy had given him permission to remove these goods. Murphy and Green were then arrested for the theft of these goods.

At the trial at Winchester, Green was acquitted and released, but Murphy was convicted and sentenced to nine months' hard labour at the House of Correction for the county of Hampshire. On 5 March 1872, an order was issued for the forfeit of Murphy's Victoria Cross. Although Murphy had worn his VC every day during his trial, the decoration could not be found after the forfeiture order.

Michael Murphy's Victoria Cross and Indian Mutiny Medal are currently held by the HQ RLC Officers' Mess ( RASC / RCT Institution ), Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey.


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Iain Stewart, 21 September 2012