|A MEMORIAL PLAQUE HAS BEEN UNVEILED TO COMMEMORATE SEAMAN THOMAS REEVES VC, WHO WAS BURIED IN PORTSEA ISLAND CEMETERY, PORTSMOUTH.|
|Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port, 5th November 1999|
|After returning to England, from his services in the Crimea, Thomas Reeves contracted tuberculosis and died in 1862, aged 34. He was buried in a mass grave for paupers at Portsea Island General Cemetery, ( Mile End Cemetery ) Hampshire.
In the 1970s, Portsmouth's continental ferry port was expanded, engulfing the Portsea Island Cemetery. Before the expansion began, approximately 6000 bodies were transferred from Portsea to Portsmouth's Kingston Cemetery. However, records revealed that Reeves' remains were not among them and they still remained in an unmarked grave beneath the ferry port car park, the Portsea Island Cemetery having disappeared.
On Friday, 5th November 1999, a celebration of Seaman Thomas Reeves VC, Royal Navy took place at Portsmouth's Continental Ferry Port, where a memorial plaque to Reeves was unveilled by Mrs. Mary Fagan JP, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. A service of dedication was conducted by the Port Chaplain, Portsmouth Commercial Port, and representative Standards of the Royal Naval Associations were in attendance. Following prayers, the Last Post was played, followed by two minutes silence and then, as is customary, the playing of Reveille. The memorial plaque will later be placed in a prominent position in one of the Ferry Port arrival halls, accompanied by a board in three languages, English, French and Spanish, describing Thomas Reeves's VC action.
[ London Gazette, 24 February 1857 ]. Inkermann, Crimea, 5 November 1854, Seaman Thomas Reeves, Royal Navy ( Naval Brigade ).
"At the Battle of Inkerman, when the right Lancaster Battery was attacked and many of the soldiers were wounded, Seaman Reeves, with four other seamen, two of whom were killed during the action, mounted the defence work banquette and, under withering attack from the enemy, kept up a rapid, repulsing fire. Their muskets were re-loaded for them by the wounded soldiers under the parapet and eventually the enemy fell back and gave no more trouble."Thomas Reeves was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park on the 26th June 1857.
Acknowledgement: to the Greenwich Royal Naval Association Victoria Cross Memorial Fund for their efforts in arranging the ceremony.
Iain Stewart, 6 November 1999