From Our Records October
14th Oct 2015
13th October, 1812 – two hundred and three years ago, The Battle of Queenstown Heights took place during the American War of Independence. The American General Van Renselaar had assembled a force of 6,000men and on 13 October 1812 the invasion of Canada began. Crossing in boats at early dawn the Americans succeeded in gaining a foothold on Queenstown Heights, which was defended by 300 men of the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment (later 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment) and York Militia with a few heavy guns. General Sir Isaac Brock was at Fort George when he heard the sound of firing and galloped to Queenstown. He ordered reinforcements from Fort George but, without waiting for their arrival, placed himself at the head of the Light Company of the 49th and advanced to the attack. After one attack had been beaten off he led the second advance and again the Americans opened fire, and Brock conspicuous by his height and uniform, was struck in the right breast by a bullet and fell mortally wounded. He survived but a few minutes. Almost his last words were 'Push on the York Volunteers' alluding to a force of corps now arriving on the scene.
On 26th October 1854 Lieutenant John Con(n)olly VC (30 May 1829 – 23 December 1888) won his Victoria Cross. Born in Celbridge, County Dublin in 1829, John Augustus Conolly served as Lieutenant with the 49th Regiment during the Crimean War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross as a result of his gallant behaviour on 26 October 1854 at Sebastopol. An attack by the Russians was repulsed and the enemy fell back pursued by men of the 49th Regiment, led by Lieutenant Conolly, whose gallant behaviour was most conspicuous in this action. He was 25 years old. He ultimately fell, dangerously wounded, while in personal encounter with several Russians, in defence of his post. He felled one Russian with his telescope. For his great gallantry John Conolly was promoted into the Coldstream Guards and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He died in the Magistrates house Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, 23 December 1888 and is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery. By his wife Ida Charlotte, daughter of Edwyn Burnaby, he had several children. His medal is at The Coldstream Guards Museum.
On 30th October 1854, James Owens VC (1827 – 20 August 1901) won his Victoria Cross. He was born in Killaine Baillieboro, County Cavan, and was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross. He enlisted into the 49th Regiment in Glasgow in 25 December 1848. He was 27 years old, and a corporal in the 49th Regiment of Foot, later The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's), British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC on 30 October 1854 at Sebastopol, in the Crimean Peninsula. At the time he was part of an outpost which was attacked by a larger Russian force. The outpost defended gallantly and helped to give the main defence time to organise. He was later promoted to Sergeant. After 21 years’ service he obtained his discharge in 1870, to become a Tower Warden at the Tower of London until 1878. He later achieved the rank of Sergeant. He died in Romford, Essex, on 20th August 1901 and is buried at Brentwood, Middlesex.
On 1st October 1915 Second Lieutenant Turner VC died (22 May 1893 – 1 October 1915) on 1st October 1915. He was 22 years old, and a second lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's), British Army, attached to 1st Battalion during the First World War when the deed for which he was awarded the VC. On 28 September 1915 at Fosse 8, near Vermelles, France, when the regimental bombers could make no headway, Second Lieutenant Turner volunteered to lead a new bombing attack. He made his way down the communication trench practically alone, throwing bombs incessantly with such dash and determination that he drove off the Germans about 150 yards without a check. His action enabled the reserves to advance with very little loss and subsequently covered the flank of his regiment in its retirement, thus probably averting the loss of some hundreds of men. He was shot in the abdomen at close range during the action Second Lieutenant Turner died three days later of the wounds received in this action. He was reported to have died at No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station, Chocques on 1 October and he was buried at the Military Cemetery Chocques. His brother was Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buller Turner VC was also awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II. He also had a family connection with General Sir Redvers Buller VC.
Our image shows a pastel drawing of General Sir Isaac Brock