Afghanistan War Medal, for Cabul 1842, Private Thomas Fox, 9th East Norfolk Regiment. Full copy papers, veteran of Kabul, Moodkee, Ferozeshuhur and Sobraon.
Private, one time Corporal Thomas Fox of the 9th “East Norfolk” Regiment of Foot, was a fine soldier but his professional conduct is best described by his discharge as “Irregular”. As a young man he fought through the Afghanistan War of 1842, earning this medal.
Continuing his service he was engaged against the Sikh Army in the Anglo-Sikh “Sutlej” War of 1845-6.
For his service in 3 Major battles he received a medal for Moodkee, Ferozeshuhur and Sobraon. During the entire war he held the NCO rank of Corporal.
J.W. Baldwin who saw the same service in the 9th Foot recalls the scenes of the Sutlej War:
“Having thus given you a slight description of the Sikh positions, you will observe it was not eating but fighting with us. We lost lots of men before we got to the enemy’s principal battery, for we were pushed, as it were, into the Lion’s mouth; when we did reach it the gunners resorted to their Tol-Wols (Very Large Swords, Talwar?) and we our bayonets, then came the Tug of War, with clashing of steel in earnest.
In describing, to the best of my ability, the most desperate conflict which then took place, I might present to your imagination such scenes of horror as were never before witness in this county, although the Indians are for ever at war, either with the British or among themselves. What a picture of Horror I beheld when we and the Seikhs were straining every nerve to deeds of barbarity, wholly bent on mutual destruction, wielding sanguinary weapons, swords, bayonets. The ground in a few minutes was sprinkled with the blood of hundreds of brave men.
With what anguish of heart I heard the moaning of the wounded and shrieks of the dying, yet, at such time, compassion is swallowed up in the wild uproar of fierce passion and deadly animosity.”
However, returning home and possibly attributed to his recent war services, he truly “fell off the wagon”. His regimental defaulters book entries are a sight to behold, being caught and imprisoned at least 11 times for being drunk on duty.
It started off when they returned home to Winchester, he was sent out as a Corporal in Command of a Patrol and not only was found to have got himself extremely dunk on duty, leading to a court martial and 2 months in Prison, but a second charge was levied against him for having also allowed the entire patrol to also become drunk.
Total time imprisoned on hard labour of washing duties = 148 days over 11 convictions.
Engraved in the recognised regimental style done during the period with Stars denoting beginning and end of naming:
“* P THOs FOX 9TH REGT.” Fitted with what looks to be the original steel clip and straight bar suspension.
Apparent erasure before rank and name which would usually read service number, should have read: “NO 1436”
Copy of engraving from British Battles and Medal attached showing same engraver, typically all 9th Foot Cabul medals encountered that were issued still on service at the time were engraved in this style.
Service Papers not typically available for these men, as they saw very hard service in Afghanistan and then remained for many years in India, nearly all fighting in the Anglo Sikh War, not being due home for many years many died.
Thomas had been through it all, and was posted back home to be discharged as medically unfit, after a particularly tough 14 years of campaigning and actions.
PRIVATE THOMAS FOX, 9TH REGIMENT OF FOOT 1839-1847
Thomas was born during 1819 in Cockarham, Lancaster, Lancashire.
At the age of 20, he enlisted at Liverpool having worked as a Piecer for a £3 Bounty, signing up “until you shall be legally discharged.”
He saw the following service:
All service with the 9th Foot,
Private, 13th April 1839 – 2nd June 1845
Promoted Corporal, 3rd June 1845 – 20th September 1847, Corporal during all 3 Sutlej Battles.
District Court Martialled and reduced to Private, for having got not only himself but his entire patrol drunk, 21st September 1847 – 21st November 1847, in Prison.
Private, 22nd November 1847 – 13th June 1853.
Total Service of 14 years 42 days.
Of which 7 years 209 days were spent on service in “The East Indies” including Afghanistan.
Discharged: “Chronic rheumatism and palpitations of the heart the result of his exposure to weather and cold while on escort duty.”
“His conduct has been Irregular, he served during the campaign in Affghanistan in 1842 for which he has received a medal, also during that on the Sutlej in 1845 and 1846 and has received a medal with two clasps for the Battles of Moodkee, Ferozeshah and Sobraon.”
Private Thomas Fox is recommended for discharge in consequence of Chronic Rehumatism and Palpitation of the heart. Disability is the result of exposure to wet and cold while on escort duty in the Spring of 1849, combined with constitutional preposition, and has not been aggravated by vice or intemperance.
Conduct while in Hospital has been good.”
After his discharge he returned home to Lancaster.
He never married, in 1861 was living back at home with his widowed mother Isabella (Born 1789) at 105 Penny Street in Lancaster.
he was described as a 40 year old Chelsea Pensioner.
He died at home in Lancaster during 1863 and was buried on 15th May 1863 in St Marys, Lancaster.
The Lancaster Gazette, 16th May 1863 reports his death:
“LANCASTER – On the 14th Instant, Mr Thomas Fox, Cotton Mixer, Penny Street, aged 42 years.”