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William Faulkner, a Dragoon of the 600 & Marine during the Indian Mutiny

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Another of the survivors of the Six Hundred who took part in the famous Balaclava charge has passed away in the person of William Henry Faulkner, whose death has occurred at Chatham.

Born in Inverness. Faulkner, at the age of seventeen, joined the 4th Light Dragoons. I sent out to the Crimea. In charging the Russian guns at Balaclava he received a bullet in his neck, where it remained until the day of his death, being deeply imbedded in the muscles. The young Dragoon attacked the Russian who fired the shot and cut him down. The horrors of war were too much for a young fellow of Faulkner's age, and he was invalided home, suffering from mental aberration. He was taken to Fort Pitt Hospital, Chatham, and was among the wounded visited by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. Upon his recovery Faulkner was the recipient of an anonymous gift of a £5 note and a suit of clothes, and throughout his life he always held the conviction that his unknown benefactor was none other than her Majesty. Upon his restoration to health, Faulkner, joined the Royal Marines, and again saw active service in the Indian Mutiny. He was present at both the Relief of Lucknow (Nov. 17th. 1857) and its recapture (March 21st, 1858). He also fought at Cawnpore in the battle of December 6th, 1857, and, after deadly work with his bayonet, was severely wounded by a heavy blow from a club wielded by a giant Sepoy.

William Heysham Overend The naval brigade from HMS Shannon at Lucknow, November 1857, illustration from British Battles on Land and Sea , 1915

Faulkner completed 21 years service in the Royal Marines, and retired on a small pension, afterwards getting employment as a labourer. The naval authorities, in recognition of his gallant services to his country, admitted him to the Melville Hospital during his last illness, and a party of Royal Marines in uniform bore his body to the grave. The deceased was fifty-nine years of age.

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