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Additions 14.3.12. Minor edits 13.4.14. New info added 29.7.17.


1029, Trumpeter Joseph GAMMAGE — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Ramsgate, Kent, c.1827.


Enlisted at London on the 31st of August 1840.

Age: 13.

Height: 5' 4".

Trade: Musician [shown as Labourer on enlistment and at the time of his desertion].


Attained the age of 15 years, and to Private on the 30th of August 1842.

1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith South, Midlothian, Scotland.

Joseph Gammage, 24, soldier, born Ramsgate.

Note: It has not been possible to consult an image of the original Scottish Census document. The above information relies on the transcription available 28.3.2012, which is not always accurate.

Members of the Light Brigade in Piershill Barracks at this time, who would later go to the Crimea, include 1127 William Cresdee 13LD, 1029 Joseph Gammage 13LD, 762 John Linkon / Lincoln, 1140 Robert Lowthorpe 13LD, 1319 Daniel Mahoney 13LD, 1367 Isaac Manning 13LD (appears as Isaac "Maussings"), 1208 Edward Martin 13LD, 1207 Benjamin Marshman 13LD, 1339 Thomas McBrine 13LD, 1341 John McCann 13LD, 1254 James Pamplin 13LD, 1424, 1424 Robert Stanger, and many more.

From Private to Trumpeter: 4th of February 1854.

Deserted from Manchester on the 4th of March 1854 and rejoined on the 13th of March. No punishment is shown as being awarded for this nor a reduction in rank, as was usual.

Reverted to Private on the 9th of August 1856.

Transferred to the 17th Lancers on the 1st of September 1857. Regimental No. 91.

Embarked for India from Cork aboard the S.S."Great Britain" on the 8th of October 1857.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Brighton on the 15th of January 1868, as:

Unfit for further service. Has chronic bronchitis, complicated by very severe attacks of asthma — is also deaf and fair to say, worn out. Will be unable to contribute much towards earning his livelihood.

Served 22 years 138 days. In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years. India, 7 years 1 month.

Conduct: "very good". ("Most excellent" crossed out.)

In possession of four Good Conduct badges.

Four times entered in the Regimental Defaulter's book. Never tried by Court-martial.

Aged 40 years 6 months on discharge.

Awarded a pension of 10d. per day. He petitioned for a further increase in 1881 and was ordered to attend a Medical Board. His wife attended, with a medical certificate, "because her husband was sick".

He is mentioned by 1228 Harry Powell, 13th Light Dragoons in his Recollections of a Young Soldier for an incident at the battle of Inkerman:

"Joe Gammage's horse fell down a hole that had only been partly filled in; he must have thought at first his horse was shot. We had a laugh over it."


Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for (according to the medal rolls) Alma, Inkerman and Sebastopol. Although he is not shown as having the Balaclava clasp, it seems certain that Gammage rode in the Charge.

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.

Awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal on the 2nd of November 1866, with a gratuity of £5.


Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of Balaclava Commemoration Society 1879, where he appears as Trumpeter G. Gammage.

Signed the Loyal Address to the Queen in 1887.

Extract from the Army and Navy Gazette, February 1868:

A very handsome time-piece was presented to Private Joseph Gammage by the Band of his regiment (the 17th Lancers) on his being invalided after 28 years service (6 counting as "Boy's Service.") During his service his name was never shown in the Defaulter's book [sic]. He is in possession of four medals, one being for meritorious service, with a gratuity.

Life after service

Intended to live at 40, Euston Square, London, but he was living in Greenwich in 1873.

Marriage registered

Joseph Gammage married Laura J Lover, September Quarter 1866, at Portsea I.

Birth registered

Emily Gertrude Gammage, December Quarter 1870 at Croydon.

1871 Census

3, Sydenham Terrace, Croydon.

Joseph Gammage, 42, Pensioner, born Ramsgate.

Laura J. Gammage, 30, born Bognor.

Emily Gammage, 6 months, born Croydon.

1881 Census

No. 14 George Street, Croydon.

Joseph Gammage, aged 52 years, a Porter, born Ramsgate, was living with his wife, Jane, aged 50, born Bognor, Sussex.

1891 Census

72 Sabine Road, Battersea.

Laura Gammage, widow, visitor, 59, Housekeeper Domestic, born Bognor.

Emily Gammage, daughter, 20, Barmaid, born Croydon.

Graham Gammage, son, 2, born Hackney.

1901 Census

72 Sabine Road, Croydon.

p>Laura Gammage, 60, widow born Bognor.

Emily Gammage, 30, barmaid born Croydon.

Graham Gammage, 12, was visiting his aunt in Eastleigh.

[CP: it is interesting to note that Laura was a visitor at the same address in both 1891 and 1901.]

Death registered

Laura J. Gammage, 79, March Quarter 1920, in Stow on the Wold.

Death & burial

Died at Croydon, Surrey on 16th October 1887.

Death registered

Joseph Gammage, aged 60 years, December Quarter 1887, Croydon.

Joseph Gammage was buried on the 20th of October 1887, aged 60 years, in Queen's Road Cemetery, Croydon. The Cemetery records show that he was "brought from the Station" and buried in a common grave. The Grave No. is 18347, in Section EE2. No headstone was erected.

The burial of Joseph Gammage recorded in the Mi>Croydon Advertiser, 22 October 1887.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Extract from the Croydon Advertiser, 22nd of October 1887:

Another link has been broken with the memorable Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava by the death of Joseph Gammage. Private Gammage, as he was known in his regiment, died last Sunday afternoon (the 16th) of consumption, at a good old age. He went through the Crimean campaign, but though, as already stated, he rode into the Valley of Death with Lord Cardigan and his gallant Six Hundred, he came out of the struggle unscathed, although during the day he had three horses shot under him.

He also went through the greater portion of the Indian Mutiny without a wound. The physical effects of both campaigns were however, distinctly pronounced. The heavy cannonading during the Mutiny affected his hearing and produced a deafness from which he never recovered. In the trenches of the Crimea were also probably sown the seeds of a painful illness that eventually necessitated an operation and the insertion of a tube in his throat.

The disease had been coming on for some time and Mr. Gammage had at length to go into hospital. Consequently, he was discharged about 6 months before his full time, which would have been 28 years, thus only having served 27 years. Nevertheless, he was discharged with only half the pension to which he would otherwise have been entitled to and during the long years which followed, up to within a fortnight of his death, he only received 1/0d. per day.

Mr. Councillor Miller, in whose service Gammage has been employed for the past thirteen years, and Mr. Steele, the dentist, his previous employer, and other residents in the town who also took a great interest in the old veteran, endeavoured to get an improvement in his allowance. But red-tape was too strong for them and their efforts, when renewed representation to the War Office setting forth the old man's circumstances, led to his receiving an additional "One penny" per day.

Private Gammage, in addition to possessing the medals of his father and brother, who both served in the Army, had himself received four medals, one with four clasps separately inscribed, Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol. One of his trophies was also a long service and good conduct medal and the characteristics that secured this remained with him throughout his life, his description being that of an upright man.

His remains were quietly interred in the Croydon Cemetery last Thursday, such being the wish of Mrs. Gammage, though the members of the 1st Queen's Royal West Kent Regiment would gladly and reverently borne him to his last resting place. In addition to Mrs. Gammage, however, there were present at the graveside, Mr, Councillor Miller, Mr. Corbet Anderson, Mr. Ridge, and others. Mr Miller has received considerable correspondence about the interesting old veteran, including letters from Major Burroughs, who in his recollections about the 13th Lancers [sic] has spoken so very highly of the deceased soldier [probably Major Barrow of the 12th Lancers] and the Revd. P.J. Watts of Kutting [Kirtling] Vicarage, Newmarket. [This was 1740 Percival James Watts of the 13th Light Dragoons.]

Private Gammage was also the possessor of a photograph of the famous charger ridden by Lord Cardigan at Balaclava. He received it from Lady Cardigan, and on its description Mr. Miller also possesses some interesting correspondence. Many of our readers will understand that Private Gammage's life has not been an affluent one, and the sympathy felt for Mrs. Gammage has led Mr. Miller to raise a subscription on behalf of his widow. Many of his correspondents have added donations to the fund and Mr. Miller would be glad to receive the contributions of those who would like to add to and take this means of expressing their respect to the memory of a gallant old soldier.

References & acknowledgements

Registrations of birth and deaths, Census information, and clipping, kindly provided by Chris Poole.


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