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The E.J. Boys Archive

Last amended 6.6.2011. Minor edits 17.2.14, 12.4.14.

1363, Private John KEELEY — 13th Light Dragoons

Also recorded as "Kieley".

Birth & early life

Born at Bray, near Dublin, c.1829.


Enlisted at Longford on the 9th of October 1848.

Age: 19.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Labourer.

Features: Fresh complexion. Lt. brown hair.

Height: 5' 7".


1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith South, Midlothian.

John Kealey [sic], soldier, 22, Private, born Dublin.

Transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Military Train at Cahir on the 31st of October 1856. Regtl. No. 959.

Left at Woolwich as servant to Captain McDonald when the regiment embarked for China on the "Blewie Castle", but joined it at Camp Taldansa in India on the 10th of October 1857.

Wounded at Alum Bagh during the Indian Mutiny on the 25th of February 1858 and died, "from wounds received in action", on the 16th of March 1858.

In his autobiography, Colonel James Robertson, who commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Military Train during the Mutiny, comments:

"I had one poor fellow mortally wounded in the final charge on the guns, who came to me from the 17th Lancers [this was an error, as it could only have been Keeley of the 13th Light Dragoons], and who rode in the celebrated charge at Balaclava. As he lay in hospital he said: 'it is very hard after being through the Balaclava Charge to be shot by a nigger'."


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

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and receiving it with a gratuity of £5, having been recommended for it on the 13th of February 1855, but it is not known under what circumstances.

Mutiny medal with clasp for the Relief of Lucknow.

Life after service

References & acknowledgements

Census information for 1851 kindly provided by Chris Poole.

Death & burial

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