Afghanistan Medal 1878-80, 1464 Pte T. O’Neill, 66th Foot. Killed in Action during the battle of Maiwand.
Thomas O’Neill was born during 1852 to Thomas and Elizabeth, his father was a Dock Labourer and they lived at 20 Liver Street, Liverpool.
As a young man he first served with the 1st Lancashire Militia with Service Number 7141 from 31st May to 10th July 1869.
He then enlisted for service on 17th July 1870 aged 19 in Liverpool.
Pte O’Neill gains a curious mention in the book “Maiwand, The Last Stand of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment in Afghanistan, 1880” by Richard J. Stacpoole-Ryding in Association with the Rifles Museum.
“Back in December 1877, a Private 1464 Thomas O’Neill, was the subject of a confidential letter written by Captain Roberts, the then Regimental Adjutant, to the Officer Commanding a detachment in Bombay, Roberts wrote:
‘Sir, with reference to the crime recorded in the last weekly duty of the H.B. under your command, against Pte Thos O’Neill, the Lt Colonel requests you will be kind enough to furnish for his information some further particulars regarding the case, as the offence is a peculiar one, and unless attended by the other aggravating circumstance, has been met with very severe punishment.’
Unfortunately there are no further records to tell us what offence O’Neil was imprisoned for. However it seems that the Commanding Officer felt that the punishment did not fit the crime, bearing in mind earlier criticism about the amount of Court Martials that the 66th were convening, O’Neil whatever the outcome of his punishment, returned to the regiment and was killed in action at Maiwand. He had enlisted on 17th July 1870, aged 17 years, at Liverpool.”