Private John Purcell VC 9th (The Queens’ Royal) Lancers

The Royal Lancers website

Private John Purcell VC 9th (The Queens’ Royal) Lancers

John Purcell (1814-1857) was born in 1814 in Kilcommon, near Oughterard, County Galway, Ireland. Little is known about Purcell’s life except for his service in the 9th Lancers (later Queen’s Royal Lancers) during the Indian Mutiny, though sadly, he would not survive the conflict.

The “Delhi Spearmen” as the 9th Lancers, were known, were heavily involved in the Siege of Delhi. On the 19th June 1857, the guns were reclaimed, though a waggon of Major Scott’s battery was blown up. Brigadier J.H. Grant CB was under threat in the midst of the fighting, and his horse was shot out from under him. Three men, a Sowar and two Privates of the 9th Lancers, Purcell and Thomas Hancock, came to his aid, and the Sowar’s horse was used to get the Brigadier off the field. Purcell’s horse was shot out from under him, and Hancock was severely wounded and would later lose an arm and be invalided back to England.

Purcell sadly didn’t live long enough to know he had been awarded the Victoria Cross or receive it. He was killed in action in Delhi, exactly two months after his VC action on 19th September 1857. Purcell and Hancock were jointly gazetted for the VC following a recommendation by Brigadier Grant on 15th January 1858. Purcell’s medal was sent by registered post to the Commanding Officer of the 9th Lancers on 28th February 1859, to be then presented to Purcell’s brother, James.

Purcell was buried in an unmarked grave in Old Delhi Military Cemetery following his death in action. His medals are in private ownership. 

This page was added on 21/09/2022.

Comments about this page

  • Stephen, I cannot find any listing for Kilcommon, unless it was Kilcummin. It’s sad that he is buried in an unmarked grave.

    By Antoinette Lydon (01/10/2022)
  • Is Kilcommon in the Oldchapel area?

    By Stephen MacDonagh (01/10/2022)
  • A John Purcell, 1073 63ft, is recorded in relation to examinations of Invalid Soldiers on Tuesday 20 September 1870.
    His record shows that he had served in Malta and Crimea for 4 month terms and 14 years in N. America.
    His native place is recorded Kilcommen, Oughterard, Galway.
    Anyone know who this man was?

    By Jim Fahy (27/09/2022)
  • Jim, it would be great to get more information on John Purcell and his family. Does it mention any next of kin on this military records.

    By Antoinette Lydon (01/10/2022)

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