Army of India Medal, bar Nepaul, W. Homewood, 66th Foot, naming officially impressed.
William Homewood was a long serving soldier who served for over 20 years, first in the short lived 28th Light Dragoons as guards in Cape Town for the newly established ‘Cape Colony’, then following the regiment’s disbandment, many years with the 66th Foot in India followed by his service in the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-16 engaged against the Gurkhas, which started the tradition of Gurkha’s in the British Army.
William Homewood was born in Borden, Sittingbourne, Kent around 1774.
He was Coachmaker by trade before enlisting for life long service joining the 28th Light Dragoons on 25th March 1796, he served for 99 days prior to the age of 18, followed by 6 years & 40 days a Private in the 28th Lt Dragoons.
The 28th Light Dragoons was a short lived cavalry regiment, it was only raised on 25th March 1795 spending a year at home recruiting when Pte Homewood enlisted.
Shortly after he joined they set off for the Cape of Good Hope, at the time it had only been a year or two since the “Cape Colony” first began, the British only had control from 1797 to 1804 before they lost control for a few years to the Batavian Republic.
They were at first guarding Cape Town, then in Saldanha Bay during August, followed by Schwelling Dam.
In 1797 they were in Cape Town, up until November 1798 when they returned to England.
After further home service in England, Scotland & Ireland, they were disbanded at Cork during 1802.
On 25th December 1803 he then joined the 66th Berkshire Regiment of Foot at Winchester, Hants.
The 66th Foot were sent to serve in India where Pte Homewood spent over 6 years, in 1815 the regiment was sent over to Nepal to fight in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16, against the forces of the Rajah of Nepaul. Following the war they struck a deal with Nepal, and began the long tradition of British & Gurkha cooperation.
The campaign was most difficult the 66th Foot were in the Second Brigade under Lt Col Nicol, 66th Foot, who were tasked with entering the hills at Ramnuggur, and by a cirtuitous route join Sir David Ochterlony before Muckwanpore.
Medals of the British Army and how they are won by Nick Carter summarises the harsh march:
“The troops, in marching towards their respective points for penetrating the forest opposite to the entrances of the passes they were ordered to force, had to proceed with extreme caution, and could move on but slowly, from the impediments, both natural and artificial. Objects of the strangest nature continually attracted attention. Magnificent trees, covered with fruit, of various unknown species; birds of rich plumage but discordant notes; bands of monkeys, chattering as the troops marched under the huge trees, in which the denizens of the forest had remained undisturbed for ages, excited the surprise of the soldiers. Great difficulty was also experienced in carrying the guns through the forest, which was accomplished by the personal exertions of each individual.”
He would then serve another 15 years & 188 days with the 66th Foot as a Private, before his discharge in consequence of “being worn out”.
Unlike many soldiers of the day he was could read & write and signed his own name on his papers instead of an ‘X’.
He was discharged at St Helena on the 18th January 1819 at the age of 45.
Even with his long service he lived into old age, according to the 1851 census he was 77 years old living in St Pancras as a Chelsea Pensioner, the same year the Army of India medal was instituted and he could finally claim a medal for his services.
Provenance: Hayward, March 1971.