James Byrne VC

James Byrne VC Victoria Cross
James Byrne VC, a Private when awarded the Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny.

The Indian Mutiny

VC(Left and lower right, the Victoria Cross awarded to Private Byrne ©)*

When Lieutenant Colonel Lowth's 86th Royal County Down Regiment led the main attack to force the breach in the wall at Jhansi, a second group led by Major Stuart was directed to attempt an escalade of the Rocket Tower. The Light Company led the way and the wall being assaulted was about 23 feet high. Stuart's group came under heavy fire and suffered many casualties. Having been beaten off the top of the wall, the enemy retreated into houses below, from where they brought down further heavy fire on the advancing 86th. While clearing those houses, the 86th had officers and men severely wounded by heavy fire then coming from the fort. One of those officers was Ensign Sewell. Lieutenant Jerome and Private James Byrne carried him to safety at great risk from the heavy enemy fire. The War Office published Private James Byrne's citation in the London Gazette dated 11 November 1859:

Byrne reverse VCfor gallant conduct on the 3rd of April, 1858,
at the attack of the Fort of Jhansi, in carrying
Lieutenant Sewell, who was lying badly
wounded, to a place of safety, under a very
heavy fire, assisted by Captain Jerome, in the
performance of which act he was wounded by
a sword cut.

James Byrne was born in Newtown, County Wicklow in 1822 and died on 6 December 1872. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

*Victoria Cross images subject to © control through RHQ R IRISH)