Indian Mutiny, 2 bars, Lucknow, Relief of Lucknow, Private Joseph Rockley, 2nd Battalion Military Train, former 2nd Dragoons. A well decorated Light Cavalry unit who won 2 Victoria Crosses in the Mutiny.
Officially impressed: “J. Rockley. 2nd Bn. Mily Train”
During the Indian Mutiny, the 2nd Battalion Military Train saw some unusual service for a regiment that was typically tasked with supply & transport duties, upon arrival the Army was short of trained cavalry, so the 2nd Military Train were called upon to act as Light Cavalry and sent into the field under Sir Henry Havelock, being given the horses of the 8th Madras Light Cavalry.
Most notably on 14th-15th April 1858 in action at Azimgurh, 2 Members of the 2nd Bn Military Train were decorated with the Victoria Cross, when the battalion was present in pursuit of a 13,000 strong rebel force under Kunwar Singh.
The Calcutta Gazette makes a mention of their excellent work as Cavalry, 23rd April 1859:
“The Second Battalion, Military Train, is under orders for immediate embarkation for England. The career in India of this Corps has been short but brilliant and eminently serviceable to its country.
Upon arrival at the Presidency, it was at once converted into a cavalry force and set into the field under the late Sir Henry Havelock.
Throughout the glorious and most trying Summer campaign of which the relief of Lucknow was the fruit, the Military Train bore a part which would have reflected credit upon the most oldest and most experienced cavalry soldiers.
It has since served with distinction in various affairs under Lieutenant General James Outram at the siege of Lucknow, in the operations about Azimghur, and lastly the harassing campaign in Shahabad.”
An interesting first hand account of the services of the 2nd Battalion Military Train can be found in the book Life and Travels of James Fisher, who served with the unit in the Mutiny, it can be read for free online below.
James Fisher had a very similar experience as Rockley, they both had previously joined the 2nd Dragoons and James noted the beginning of the Military Train on Page 26 onwards:
“At this time, or in November 1856, a new corps was being formed, and volunteers were required and inducements fiven, and into it I volunteered. This new branch of the Army was to be called the Military Train, and its duty was a mounted transport. My battalion was formed on the Curragh Camp, and named the Second Battalion, Military Train, consisting of 4 Troops, each having 115 men with horses. After joining on or about 1st April 1857, the battalion received orders to hold ourselves in readiness to proceed to China.”
Joseph Rockley, was born during 1833 in Edwinstone, Ollerton, Nottinghamshire.
He first attested for service on 29th December 1855 at Monk Bretton and joined the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons, the Scots Greys.
After about 8 months he was transferred to the Military Train on 1st November 1856.
He would go on to serve a particularly lengthy career, with 20 years 361 days of service rounding out a 21 year long engagement.
He spent 2 years and 6 months overseas whilst the regiment was engaged in the Indian Mutiny.
At the time of his discharge during 1877 he held 4 Good Conduct Badges and this Indian Mutiny Medal as his only entitlement, no chance of a Long Service & Good Conduct as his service had been not so spotless having stating: “His name appears 18 times in the Regimental Defaulters Book and has 2 convictions by Court Martial”
He was officially discharged from the Army Service Corps, which had been the new title of the Military Train since 1870, on 14th August 1877, with 21 years 15 days service in total.