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

Amended 7.5.11. Minor edits 29.10.14. Image of GB's Account added 22.7.2016.


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1545, Private George BADGER — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Shrewsbury, and baptised at St. Peter's Collegiate, Wolverhampton, on the 11th of January 1831, the youngest of the three known children born to James Badger and his wife, Elizabeth.

Enlistment

Enlisted at Birmingham on the 23rd of January 1854.

Age: 18.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Servant.

Service

Sent to the Depot at Birmingham on the 1st of April 1854, to the Service troops on the 24th of June, and joined the regiment at Varna on the 13th of August 1854.

The Regimental History states he was one of the four men wounded during the affair at the Bulganak River on the 19th of September 1854, just before the battle of the Alma.

He was sent to Scutari on the 20th of September and is shown as in the General Hospital there from the 24th of September (in pencil is an alteration to the 25th). Nothing is recorded as to the nature of any wounds he may have received (the other three men were all invalided and discharged from the service because of theirs) but since he was sent to rejoin the regiment on the 3rd of October, they could not have been of a serious nature. (At the time of his death a newspaper report mentioned that "In an early engagement he was wounded in the foot, and was in hospital for a short time".)

Nothing is recorded of the date when he actually rejoined the regiment: the next muster entries, for October/December, only show him as being on the pay of the regiment for 90 days.

According to an obituary, published in the Shrewsbury Chronicle, 15th of January 1904, he "left behind him a vivid description of the 'Charge'", which they quoted from as follows:

'The Russians opened fire on our right, on our left, and then in front... Three men on my right (next to me) and two on my left fell; I found my horse was wounded, but with a little rein and close leg, I managed to keep him up. Getting nearer the guns, I was struck with a piece of shell, which tore away part of my clothes and took a piece of my flesh away with it. Still we kept pushing on to the guns, and on reaching them I was attacked by a Russian gunner, who made a point at me, the steel entering my side before I could parry his thrust.

Then, fortunately, one of the 4th Dragoons came up and cut the man down. The artillery men stuck to their guns until they were nearly all cut down. The Russians in the rear then rushed on us, and we had to make the best of our way back, the Russians still keeping up the heavy fire.'

In the return ride Mr. Badger's horse was again struck by a shell, and killed, and Badger fell.

'One of the 8th Hussars happened to pass,' he says. 'I caught hold of the stirrup-iron of his saddle, but not being able to run fast enough, I was obliged to let go.'

He lay on the ground for some time, but was eventually able to get out of the enemy fire and rejoin his comrades.

[PB: Presumably his entire account was longer, but the Chronicle included no more of it in their obituary. Was the longer account published elsewhere? An extended transcript of the obituary is given below.]

Served Eupatoria.

John Harris, in his book The Gallant Six Hundred, quotes from an article, said to have been from the Midland Evening News (unknown date), following an interview with Badger:

"[A]t the beginning of the charge, and after Nolan had been hit by a shell fragment, his (Nolan's) horse had swerved across the front of the 13th Light Dragoons and in doing so had nearly knocked over George Badger and his horse, they being in the front line of the squadron.

Later... Private Badger, wounded, and knocked silly when his horse had been brought down, recovered consciousness to see Captain Oldham lying nearby. The Captain had been thrown from his horse after it had been struck by a shell. Although unhurt, he was bowled over almost immediately by a musket-ball. He called Badger across and asked him to take his personal treasures, but as Badger moved towards him another ball struck him and he fell back dead, still clutching the watch and purse he was holding out. Badger had turned away, and seeing the Cossacks advancing, caught the stirrup of a straggler of the 13th, but with his wound, unable to run, had to let it go. As the Cossacks stopped by the dead officer however, he was able to make his escape."

The article also describes the scene at the roll-call after the return from the Charge: "Private Badger, the last to arrive, stumbling in with his uniform soaked in blood from the wound in his side."

EJB: However, Badger is not shown as being so wounded in any official casualty lists.

(The complete report of the newspaper interview taken from the Midland Evening News, unknown date, in the 13th Hussar file.)



[PB, July 2016: Transcription completed, see Accounts Database.]

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Transferred to the 17th Lancers on the 10th of September 1857, Regimental number 72.

GB had been a batman to Colonel William Morris of the 17th Lancers while the latter was Assistant Q.M.G. at the Curragh Camp, Ireland, attached to the 4th Bn. of the Military Train, from the 24th of May 1847 and this was most probably the reason for his transfer, although some 57 other men of the regiment had also volunteered for service in India.

Embarked aboard the SS "Great Britain" at Cork on the 8th of October, and arrived at Bombay, India, on the 19th of December.

Embarked for England from Bombay aboard the "Agamemnon" on the 21st of January 1865, landing at Tilbury, en route for Colchester, on the 5th of May.

Discharge & pension

Discharged, "time expired", from Colchester on the 24th of January 1866.

Intending to live in Birmingham, he was allowed 13/8d for his travel fare.

Conduct and character: "very good."

In possession of two Good Conduct badges.

Medals

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

The "Inkerman" clasp was shown as having been "Sent on a certificate, dated the 11th of September 1857."

Can find no trace on the Mutiny medal roll.

The musters for July-September 1858 show no particular service movement during the whole of the period.

In a photograph which appeared in a local newspaper around the time of his death, Badger is shown wearing a Mutiny medal without clasp.

Assuming that Badger remained with Morris until then, and was not eligible later, there is no valid reason for him wearing it. Dying as he did at Poona in July of 1858, William Morris did not receive the Mutiny medal, only those actually being under arms getting this.

The men of the 17th who went on "Field Service" are shown in the musters of the period as such, as "On Detachment at Sholapore", and seemingly not entitled to a medal, or nothing against their name, as his has. Having been a servant to Colonel William Morris of the 17th when the latter was on Staff employment during the Mutiny, GB may have considered himself entitled to the medal.

Commemorations

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1879.

Signed the Loyal Address to the Queen in 1887.

On the 5th of November 1895, George Badger, together with just over 100 veterans of the campaigns up to and including the Ashanti War of 1874-8. were invited to an Assembly and Banquet at Shrewsbury, and from the Market Square marched to the Music Hall. A newspaper report of the time stated that:

"Corporal Badger, another survivor of the famous Charge, ascended the platform after the meal and gave a graphic account of the 'ride', and then recited the 'Charge of the Six Hundred', for which he was roundly applauded."

Attended the Annual Dinner in 1897.

He was also present at the Fleet Street offices of Mr. T.H. Roberts for the Jubilee celebrations held there in June 1897 and he signed the testimonial given to Mr. Roberts on that occasion. (There is a copy in the "Memoirs" file.)

Life after service

On the 3rd of April 1897 he was living at 3, Freeman Street, Wolverhampton.

1881 Census

13 George Street, Bilston, Staffs

The 1881 Census shows George Badger, aged 45, a "Yard Foreman (Iron)", born in Shrewsbury, and his wife Lucy, aged 28, a Dressmaker. They had at that time two sons: Henry, aged 9, born at Worcester, and George, aged 4, born in Bilston.

Two lodgers are also listed in the household.

Death registered

Lucy Badger [wife], aged 44 years, March Quarter 1898.

1901 Census

3, Freeman Road, Wolverhampton

The 1901 Census shows George Badger, aged 67, born Shrewsbury, Staffs. Of "no occupation", he was a widower and was living with his married son George, 25, and his wife Alice, 22, who had a son Bert, 1. (George junior is listed as being crippled in the spine.)

Also living in the house was another unmarried son, Bert, aged 19.

Death & burial

Death registered

George Badger, aged 68 years, January-March Quarter 1904, Wolverhampton.

He was buried on the 14th of January 1904, in the Merridale Cemetery at Wolverhampton, in Grave No. 17671. (See photograph of his grave-site in the 13th Hussar file.) This area of the cemetery was said to have been cordoned off in the 1950s as a separate Jewish section, the later burials taking place between those of an earlier interment. There were five burials in Grave No. 17671 between the 14th and 20th of January 1904, Badger being the second. The same area was used for the burials of cholera victims in the 1830s, the graves having been dug 18 feet deep.

Extract from the Wolverhampton Chronicle, 13th of January 1904:

Passing of a Hero of Balaclava

A Death-Bed Request... The ranks of the heroes of the famous Balaclava Charge, about which the late Lord Tennyson sang, are gradually thinning out, few remain. There has just passed away in Wolverhampton one who fought under the colours of the 'Death or Glory Boys' [sic] on that dreadful day. We refer to Private George Badger, formerly of the 17th Lancers, who died at his residence in Mostyn Street, and was proud of the fact that he was one of 'The Noble 600' immortalised in the 'Charge of the Light Brigade'.

For many years, it seems, he was employed by the Great Western Railway, and whilst he was lucky to escape the terrors of the 'Valley of Death' it was his fate to lose a leg when involved in shunting operations a few years ago. Badger was very fond of the soldier's life, and is stated to have left a death-bed request that he should be accorded a military funeral.

We understand that the relatives have been communicated with and that Colonel McBean has interested himself in the matter. Strange to say, a military funeral is against the regulations of the Army, but Colonel McBean wired the officer commanding Badger's old regiment at Edinburgh asking for representatives to be present at the interment and a favourable reply was received. Two of the senior N.C.O.s will be sent, whilst it is possible other representatives will attend to honour one who participated in an event which thrilled the civilised world."

EJB: This report highlighting his loss of a leg casts some doubt as to whether it is Badger or Richard Palfreman of the 8th Hussars who is the limbless survivor shown in the picture taken with "Buffalo Bill" in 1891. (See record of 1218 Richard Palfreman , 8th Hussars, as to the loss of his leg.)

Extract from the Wolverhampton Chronicle, 20th of January 1904:

"A Military Funeral — Wolverhampton Veteran Interred

Private George Badger has fought his last fight and answered death's imperative roll-call. He was one of the Light Brigade immortalised by Lord Tennyson and he fought in the ranks of the 17th Lancers and the 13th Light Dragoons. His dying request was that he should be afforded a military funeral, but such an honour to a retired soldier is against the regulations.

Under the circumstances, however, it was decided that a semi-military funeral could be arranged and so it came about that a detachment of soldiers arrived in Mostyn Street, Wolverhampton, on Thursday afternoon. These were ten members of the Walsall Troop of Yeomanry under the command of Squadron Sergeant Major Churchman, accompanied by Sergeant Ellison, R.A.M.C., Sergeant Shipley, Sergeant Brown, and a Sergeant-Major and a Cpl. from the 17th Lancers and the 13th Hussars. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, almost hidden by floral memorials. The hearse was followed by the little troop to the cemetery and the soldiers stood to attention whilst the remains of the veteran were committed to their last resting-place."

Extract from the Shrewsbury Chronicle, 15th of January 1904:

Death of a Shropshire Veteran — A Hero of Balaclava

Yesterday the last honours were paid to Mr. George Badger of Wolverhampton, and formerly of Shrewsbury, one of the best known of the Shropshire veterans, and one who was always held in high regard both in his native county and elsewhere. Ex-Quartermaster Sergeant [sic] Badger, saw much service whilst in the Army and was the proud possessor of three medals, the first with three clasps, for Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol, another for the Indian Mutiny, and the third medal — the Turkish medal — from the Crimea. The deceased used to tell stirring stories of his experiences and the accounts of his life and battles were always of the most interesting character.

Mr. Badger enlisted at Birmingham in January of 1854, when he joined the 13th Light Dragoons (now the 13th Hussars). He was sent out in a short time to Varna in Turkey, afterwards proceeding to the Crimea. In an early engagement he was wounded in the foot, and was in hospital for a short time.

He left behind him a vivid description of the 'Charge' in which he says:

In the return ride Mr. Badger's horse was again struck by a shell, and killed, and Badger fell:

He lay on the ground for some time, but was eventually able to get out of the enemy fire and rejoin his comrades. Later on, Mr. Badger was posted to the 17th Lancers, to which regiment he belonged at the time of his retirement.

The remains of the gallant old soldier were laid to rest in Wolverhampton Cemetery yesterday amongst many expressions of sympathy and respect.

The funeral cortege left the deceased's former residence in Mostyn Street, Staveley Road, at 2.30p.m. Various branches of the military services were well represented, and in the funeral party was also Alderman Kilvert, of Wednesbury, late of the 11th Hussars, and also 'One of the Six Hundred.'

The coffin was of polished oak with brass furniture. It was covered with the Union Jack, and bore the inscription on the breastplate: 'George Badger. Died 11th January 1904. Aged 69 years.'

The many handsome wreaths included two sent by the 13th Hussars and the 17th Lancers."

From The Regiment, 30th of January 1904:

"From a correspondent...

I am sure you will be sorry to hear of the death of an old soldier and hero, George Badger, late of the 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers. He was buried in the Wolverhampton Cemetery on Thursday last, the funeral being attended by two non-commissioned officers of the 17th Lancers and the 13th Hussars, then the 13th Light Dragoons, with which I believe Badger also served. There were also present a 4th Dragoon Guard and a 6th Dragoon and representatives of the Volunteers at the graveside, two Volunteer buglers sounding the 'Last Post'.

It was a most impressive ceremony, and I am proud that I was privileged to attend. As you are aware, a military funeral is not allowed to a retired soldier under the present regulations, but being a special case, we received permission from the War Office to turn out."

It is just 50 years since George Badger, who was then a grocer's assistant in a shop on the Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, joined the 13th Light Dragoons...and a braver heart never beat beneath a British uniform than that of the plucky Shrewsbury lad, who was destined to share in the glory of the heroic "Six Hundred". His account of the charge was related to the writer by himself some ten years ago, and his narrative ranks as the most interesting on record."

[Source: "Private 1545 George Badger, 13th Light Dragoons", War Correspondent, October 2004, p.41.]

Notice again the suggestion that there is a longer account in existence (which would have been written about 1894). Can it be located?]

Report from a Wolverhampton newspaper (unknown date):

"An exhibition of a film at the Odeon Cinema, Wolverhampton, based on the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' during the Crimean War, recalls the name of the late Mr. G. Badger, of Wolverhampton, who took part in the famous charge. Mr Badger, who died in 1904, was the father of Mr. B.H. Badger, who now lives at No. 145 Bingley Street."



http://chargeofthelightbrigade.com/furtherinfo/health_to_britains_heroes/health_to_britains_heroes_badger_doolan_mugg_holland_images_1to2.jpg. Click to enlarge. . Click to enlarge.

Advertorial for "Doan's Backache Kidney Pills", featuring George Badger, Patrick Doolan, Henry Mugg, and Matthew Holland, published in the Sunderland Daily Echo, 25th of March 1903.

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THE LAST MAN TO COME OUT OF THE CHARGE

We only wish space admitted of our publishing in full the remarkable and cleverly-written narrative of the Balaclava Charge, told by Mr George Badger, a native of Shrewsbury, now living at 3, Freeman Street, Inkerman Street, Wolverhampton, who served in the 13th Light Dragoons (now known as the 13th Hussars).

In his graphic description of the engagement, Mr Badger says:

"When Lord Cardigan received the order to charge and take the guns, he replied, 'I shall lose all my Light Brigade!'"

Mr Badger was twice wounded, yet he struggled on, only to be wounded a third time by a Russian sword thrust. Misfortune still dogged his footsteps, and his horse was killed under him by a shell. How he escaped with his life he never knew. Mr Badger was the last man to come out of the historic charge.

When peace was declared he returned to the Curragh Camp (Ireland), but with his typical British pluck he shortly afterwards volunteered for service in India, and went through the Mutiny. Mr Badger speaks in glowing terms of Miss Nightingale, and her great work amongst the wounded.

What Mr Badger says.

"The hardships and privations of a soldier's life told on my health in the end, and for years I suffered from kidney complaint. There was a severe pain in my back; it was like a sword thrust. I could not stoop, or rise after sitting, without terrible pain. The there were serious organic disorders; I cannot refer to them here, but they are what every doctor recognises as certain signs of kidney complaint.

After a while my general health was upset by this kidney trouble; my back, aching all night, kept me awake, and there was no ease in any position. I was troubled with dizziness and languor; my appetite was bad.

A friend urged me to try your Doan's Backache Kidney Pills. I felt better after the first box, so I went on with the medicine, and after using a few boxes I was very thoroughly cured."

"GEORGE BADGER"


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