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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Added 30.5.12. Further information 3.10.2012. Minor edits 14.2.14, 14.4.14.

Assistant Surgeon Lancelot ARMSTRONG - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Peckham, London, on the 16th of July 1829 and baptised in St Giles Church, Camberwell, on the 14th of August 1829, the son of Peter Armstrong and his wife Charlotte Dorothy (nee Major).

Parents' marriage

Peter Armstrong and wife Charlotte Dorothy Major were married in Christ's Church, Spitalfields, Stepney, on the 11th of June 1826.

1841 Census

Peckham Lunatic Asylum

Peter Armstrong, aged 54, and his wife Charlotte, 52, were Superintendent & Matron respectively.

Margaret, 8.

George, 6.

Death registered

Charlotte Dorothy Armstrong [mother], March Quarter 1845, Camberwell.

1851 Census

Peckham Lunatic Asylum

Peter Armstrong, aged 64, widower, was still proprietor of the Asylum.

Two children are also shown: Henry, 24, son, and Jane, 22, daughter.

Death registered

Peter Armstrong [father] June Quarter 1860, Camberwell.

Obtained his M.D. at Edinburgh University in 1853.

Service

Assistant Surgeon (Staff): 7th of April 1854.

Assistant Surgeon in the 13th Light Dragoons: 21st of April 1854.

Extract from the Regimental History:

"He accompanied the patrol to the Danube with Captain Tremayne and Lieutenant Phillips, who later told of the following incident.

Food being scarce, advantage was taken to capture and kill some pigs that were wandering around loose, their owners unknown. Like the others, I saw the pigs killed, then after helping to collect wood for a fire, I was so cold that I fell asleep.

I was awakened by a savoury smell, and found that Armstrong had run a long skewer through a piece of pig's liver and was grilling it over the fire. I said, "Oh, you good chap, to get our dinner ready for us." To which he answered, with the gravest of faces, "I'm sorry to say the liver isn't fit for you to eat. It's all covered with anchylosed cysts."

I promptly woke Jennings, who was asleep close to us, and we decided that the Doctor must not risk his valuable life by eating food he knew to be unwholesome, so we took it away and ate it ourselves."

He was Absent without Leave for a period in February and March 1855, after which a series of Memos were sent:

"Camp Balaclava.

9th March 1855.

My Lord, I have the honour to report for yr. information that Mr. Armstrong, the Asst. Surgn. of the Regt. under my command has returned & and I have placed him under arrest & by it enclose a letter from him to me.

I trust that owing to his illness and the short time he has been in the service may be taken as an excuse for his late absence - and taken into consideration by the Authorities.

I have the honour, etc. etc,.

C. Doherty, Lt. Col 13th Lt. Dgs."

"To Colonel Lord George Paget, 4th Lt. Dgs. etc. etc.,

Camp before Sebastopol.

March 9th 1855.

Sir, With regard to my late absence from Camp I have the honour to inform you that as an excuse for that, being unwell and having gone on board the "Hope " about noon of Febry. 13th, I became rapidly worse and before evening delirious and that the Surgeon of the Ship was of the opinion that I could not be removed. I have also the honour to inform you that the ship sailed the next day and that no change as could justify my removal had taken place in my state at the time of her departure.

I have the honour to be, Sir, etc. etc.,

L. Armstrong, Asst. Surgeon,

13th Light Dragoons."

"To Colonel Doherty, 13th Light Dragoons.

Medical Certificate.

I hereby certify that Dr. Armstrong, 13th Light Dragoons came down from Camp on the 13th of Feby. for a short stay in order to recruit his health.

It appeared he had somewhat miscalculated the seriousness of his indisposition - as being much exhausted by the ride down, he went to bed at once - became rapidly worse and was before evening, "Delirious".

I further certify that on the 14th Capt. Bowen received orders to start for Constantinople immediately and as Dr. Armstrong was then unable to decide upon any course for himself, I, considering that any removal must be highly dangerous, and must be attended with serious consequences, at once represented the matter to Capt. Bowen - who determined on taking him with us, and at the same time prevented any necessity of incurring the risk of a removal, and afforded him such opportunity of a speedy and satisfactory recovery as change of air, etc., would probably ensure.

Samuel A. Patterson, M.R.C.S."

"'Hope.'

Balaclava,

March 9th/55.

Sir, I hereby certify that the Surgeon of my Ship having represented the extremely precarious state of Dr. Armstrong, and the great risk of his removal from the Ship, and considering that Dr. Armstrong from his weakened state was unable to judge for himself, it appeared a matter of common humanity to request my Surgeon to carry him with me.

I am thoroughly ignorant of Military routine, but from the representations made to me by my Surgeon, I feel that his removal from the ship at the moment we received our Sailing Orders would have been little short of Homicide.

W. H. Bowen,

Commander,

Steam Transport 'Hope'. "

"Kadikoi,

March 10/55.

Sir, I have the honour to forward the enclosed statement from Col. Doherty , Comg. 13th Lt. Dgs., with reference to the case of the Asst. Surgeon of his Regt. for favourable consideration.

I have the honour, etc. etc.,

Geo Paget, Colonel,

Comm. Lt. Cav. Brig."

"To Maj. Genl. the Honble. Scarlett, Commg. Cavry. Divn.

Camp nr. Balaclava,

13th March 1855.

Sir, I have the honour to report for the information of the Major Genl. Commanding that Asst. Surgeon Armstrong of the Regt. under my command absented himself (without leave) on the 13th Feby. 1855,

That he had no permission to go on Board Ship.

He does not know the date of his arrival at Constantinople as he was, according to his own statement, very ill at the time, & he left Constantinople on the 6th March.

Never having left the Ship he did not report himself to Ld. Wm. Paulet,

He returned aboard the same vessel (The "Hope") to Balaclava and arrived and reported himself on the 9th instant.

I have the honour, etc. etc.,

C. Doherty, Lt. Colonel,

Comdg. 13th Lt. Dragoons."

"To Major Shute, Asst. Adj. Genrl.

Final Memo. The explanation of Asst. Surgeon Armstrong being satisfactory, Lord Raglan directs that he may be released from arrest and that he may return to his duty. J.B.B. Estcourt, A.G. March 15th I855."

On the 27th of March 1857 he married, at St. John's Church, Ryde, Isle of Wight, Sarah Anne, the only surviving daughter of the late Mr. Charles Cant, of Penrith, Cumberland.

Marriage registered

Lancelot Armstrong to Sarah Ann Cant, March Quarter 1857, Isle of Wight.

Sarah Anne Cant

1841 Census

Moorhouse, Brougham, Westmorland.

Sarah Jameson, aged 35.

John Jameson, 6.

Elizabeth Jameson, 1.

Sarah Cant [future wife], 10.

1851 Census

Moorhouses, Brougham, Westmorland.

John Jameson, 60, Attorney at law.

Sarah, wife, 47.

Sarah Ann Cant, aged 20, step-daughter, born Penrith.

Elizabeth, daughter, 11.

Three Servants are also shown.

Births registered

Margaret Ann Armstrong [daughter], March Quarter 1861, Manchester.

George Salkeld Armstrong [son], December Quarter 1864, Brentford.

Lancelot Armstrong [son], March Quarter 1867, York.

Duncan Armstrong [son], June Quarter 1869, Barton.

Staff Surgeon: 11th of October 1864.

Extra Surgeon in the 13th Hussars: 30th of December 1864.

Extra Surgeon in the 6th Dragoons: 1st of April 1868.

Promoted to the Army Staff as Deputy Surgeon-Major: 7th of April 1874.

Retired, and on to half-pay: 8th of October 1876.

Campaign service

Assistant Surgeon Armstrong served the Eastern campaign of 1854-55, including the battles of the Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol; also took part in the reconnaissance of the Danube under Lord Cardigan, the affair of the Bulganak, the Tchernya, and was present with the Light Brigade in Eupatoria. (Medal and four Clasps.)

Medals & commemorations

Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman, Sebastopol and the Turkish Medal.

Life after service

1871 Census

11, Gladstone Terrace, Brighton.

Lancelot Armstrong, aged 41, born Camberwell.

Sarah A. Armstrong, 40, Penrith.

Elizabeth 10, born Lanarckshire.

Margaret, 8, Manchester.

John, 7, Aldershot.

George S, 6, Hounslow.

Lancelot, 4, Fulford.

Duncan 2, Manchester.

A Governess and two Servants are also shown.

1881 Census

Temple Hill, Weston Super Mare.

Lancelot Armstrong, aged 57 [check: 51?], Surgeon, Major, 6th Dragoons retired, born Camberwell.

Sarah A Armstrong, 49, Penrith.

Duncan Armstrong, 12, Scholar, Manchester.

A Governess, 3 Servants, Stable boy, Cook and Housemaid are also shown.

1891 Census

South Road, Walby, Weston Super Mare.

Lancelot Armstrong, aged 61, Surgeon Major retired, born Peckham.

Sarah A Armstrong, 60, Living on my own means, Penrith.

Lancelot Armstrong, 23, Undergraduate of Cambridge, Fulford, York.

5 Servants are also shown.

1901 Census

Walby, Weston Super Mare.

Lancelot Armstrong, aged 71, retired Army Surgeon, born Peckham.

Sarah A Armstrong, 70, born Penrith.

Lancelot Armstrong, 34, born York.

3 Servants are also shown.

Death & burial

Died at "Walby", South Road, Weston-super-Mare, on the 19th of May 1907.

Death registered

Lancelot Armstrong, aged 77, June Quarter 1907, Axbridge.

By his will, he left 23,669, re-sworn to 23,737.

Extract from the Weston-super-Mare Gazette, 15th of May 1907:

"Death of a Balaclava hero at Weston

The death of Surgeon-Major Lancelot Armstrong of the old 13th Light Dragoons (Retired) has occurred at "Walby", South Road, in Weston-super-Mare after an illness of a week's duration.

The deceased was an Army Surgeon, and served throughout the Crimean War of 1854-56 and was immediately associated with the glorious ride of the gallant "Six Hundred" at Balaclava.

He was standing with Lord Lucan, the commander of the Cavalry Division, when the ill-fated Captain Nolan, after having mistakenly delivered the message to Lord Cardigan to charge the Russian guns, fell horribly mutilated by a round-shot.

He also commenced the ride with the Six Hundred, but dismounted when the men were falling, and attended the wounded under the heavy fire of the Russian batteries.

Surgeon Major Armstrong received the Crimean medal with clasps for the Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol, in addition to the French Crimean medal [sic].

For some considerable time after his active service, during which by the way, he contracted typhus fever, the deceased soldier had been attached to the Inniskilling Dragoons. Deceased had been in failing health for some time, and was 77 years of age."

Weston-super-Mare Gazette, 18th of May 1907:

The funeral took place on Saturday afternoon, the remains being interred in the Parish churchyard of St. Paul's at Kewstoke. The obsequies were of a very simple character and there were few people present besides the mourners.

The cortege was met at the entrance to the churchyard by the Vicar of Kewstoke, the Revd. David Lloyd, who recited the opening sentences of the burial service. The coffin was then borne into the church and afterwards deposited in a brick-lined grave.

The coffin was of polished oak, with heavy brass fittings, and the inscription on the breast-plate was: 'Lancelot Armstrong. M.D. Died May 10th 1907. Aged 77 years.' [A list of mourners and wreath-senders follows.]

After the conclusion of the service muffled peals were rung on the church bells."

The item ended with a poem (printed in full):

"'A Lay of Balaclava Fray - 25th October 1854.' (Inscribed to the memory of the late Surgeon-Major Lancelot Armstrong, one of Six Hundred at Balaclava.)"

An imposing granite Celtic memorial cross was later erected. The inscriptions on the the base read:

[Front] "Sacred to the memory of Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel Lancelot Armstrong, who died May 10th 1907, in his 77th year. He served throughout the Crimean War. At Balaclava he attended the wounded of the 13th Light Dragoons, of which he was at that time the Assistant Surgeon."

[Second face] "Also to his widow, Annie, who died December 10th 1909, aged 77. 'The days of mourning shall be ended.'"

[Third face] "Also their son, Lancelot Armstrong, September 8th 1939, aged 77 years."

Further information

Death registered

Sarah Anne Armstrong, aged 79, December Quarter 1909, Axbridge.

1911 Census

Walby, South Road, Weston Super Mare.

Lancelot Armstrong [son], aged 40, single, Gentleman, born Fulford, Yorks.

3 Servants are also shown.

References & acknowledgements

Additional birth, marriage and death registrations, and Census information, kindly provided by Chris Poole.


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