Indian Mutiny Medal, bar Lucknow, Ordinary Seaman Thomas Byrne, HMS Shannon, Royal Navy, who served ashore with the Naval Brigade in the Lucknow campaign, he fell ill and died on 12th October 1858 at sea aged only 22.
HMS Shannon, was most notable for it’s important part it played in the Indian Mutiny, Byrne was amongst the Naval Brigade who were sent ashore and fought in the Siege of Lucknow, which included the Storming of the Sikandar Bagh.
The crew of this ship would earn 5 Victoria Crosses, including Able Seaman William Hall, who would become the first Canadian Sailor as well as being the first Black person to be awarded the V.C.
The men were lad by a young Officer, named Captain Sir William Peel, who was only 33 years old, but almost 20 years into the service of the Royal Navy, he already held a K.C.B. and had won a Victoria Cross recently in the Crimean War at the Battle of Inkermann and Assault on the Redan.
Officially impressed: “THOs BYRNE, ORD. SHANNON.”
Some slight wear and toned condition.
Entitlement confirmed on the roll, the remarks noting that the medal was sent to his father.
With copy service papers, roll entries and hand written surgeon report on his case.
Thomas Byrne, was born on 6th December 1836 in Dublin, Ireland.
At the age of 18, he first joined H.M. Steam Transport “Transit”, which had been newly launched in March 1855. He was on board from November 1855 until August 1856.
On 1st March 1856 the Transit under Commander Johnson, had arrived at Spithead from the “East” with invalids, it was operation as a Troopship likely bringing home Crimean war casualties.
Thomas had first entered into the service of the Royal Navy on board Shannon as an Ordinary Seaman 2nd Class on 23rd August 1856, at which time the new ship was almost finished being built, likely looking to recruit it’s new crew.
On 21st February 1857 he officially attested for 10 years service with the Royal Navy and set off with the ship.
Initially the ship was sent to Hong Kong via the Cape of Good Hope and Singapore intending to join the Naval Forces fighting in the 2nd China War.
Once they got to Hong Kong they were diverted and ordered to take Lord Elgin to Calcutta.
Upon arrival in India, Captain Peel took his Naval Brigade from the ship to help the Army. Steam launches towed the brigade up the Ganges on barges in two contingents.
They fought their 1st engagement at the Battle of Kujwa on 1st November 1857. Then supporting Colin Campbell’s forces at Lucknow.
On 27th April 1858, they lost their Gallant Captain, having been wounded in the campaign he contracted smallpox and died in his weakened state and died at Cawnpore.
Once Lucknow had finally been recaptured the brigade returned to Calcutta by Bullock Train, most of the ship’s company rejoined HMS Shannon on 12th August and set sail for England on 15th September 1858, reaching Spithead on 29th December 1858.
However Ordinary Seaman Byrne did not survive the journey home, a lengthy hand written report by the ship’s surgeon details his plight:
“The subject of this case is Thos Byrne age 21 O.S., was placed upon the sick list on the 9th September (shortly after the return of the Brigade to Calcutta and previous to my joining the ship). Suffering from Oedema of both legs which however proved to be the effect and not the cause of the illness.
So far as could be learned from the Officers and Shipmates of this poor fellow, it appears that he was in Hospital at Allahabad under the care of a Dr Beale and subsequently at Shergotty under the care of a Dr Dixon for Hemoptysis.
For the Odema of his legs I have treated it with Calomel & Opium, Gentum and … & rest.”
The report then goes on about the attempted treatment almost all involving copious amounts of opium before he “Expired on the 12th at 3.30pm”
He was examined and underwent a post-mortem investigation, likely being buried at sea on the journey home.