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Minor edits 1.1.2014, 22.1.2015. Grave images added 1.7.17.

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1440, Corporal Joseph MALONE — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Eccles, near Manchester, on the 11th of January 1833.

His birth is not recorded in the parish records, neither has he been found in any of the early Catholic registers available.


Enlisted at Manchester on the 28th of March 1851.

Age: 18.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Farrier.


From Private to Corporal: 14th of October 1854.

At daybreak on the 24th of September 1854, about a month before Balaclava, Corporal Malone had done a smart bit of work. He had volunteered with three Privates of the 13th and had captured an escort of the enemy's cavalry and also the baggage they were taking into Sebastopol.[PB: Source? Say more?]

870 James Nunnerley, 17th Lancers, said in his memoir that after his horse had been shot under him, himself being knocked down and trodden on by riderless horses and regaining his feet, he observed one of the 13th Light Dragoons under a dead horse, the rider (J. Malone) not being able to free himself. He dragged the horse off him and set him at liberty and accompanied him a short distance.

[W]hen he was within a few yards of the Russian guns, his horse was shot under him and fell on its head. He endeavoured to pull it up in order to dash at the gunners. but found it was unable to move, its foreleg having been blown off.

He then left it and forced his way on foot through shot and shell, when he was attacked by the Russian Cavalry, through whom he cut his way, his more than ordinary height, combined with a powerful frame, proving at this crisis most advantageous to him.

He had no sooner got clear of his foes than he was knocked down and ridden over by a number of riderless horses, together with a few Hussars.

Having regained his feet, he observed one of the 13th Light Dragoons under his horse, which had been killed, the rider (J. Malone) not being able to free himself. He dragged the horse off him, and set him at liberty, and accompanied him a short distance till he fell in with Sergeant John Farrell of his own regiment.

He assisted Farrell to carry Captain Webb out of danger on a stretcher, which had been brought to their aid by Sergeant John Berryman.

He then returned under a heavy fire to the field, and brought out Trumpeter William Britton, who was very seriously wounded; and, after having obtained water for him and the remainder of the wounded, he caught a horse belonging to the 8th Hussars, whose rider had been shot, which he mounted, and then joined his regiment.

[Source: Nunnerley, James lkin (Corporal), Short Sketch Of The 17th Lancers And Life Of Sergeant-Major J. I. Nunnerley, privately printed, Liverpool, 1884, pp.18-19.]

This story, coupled with Private James Lamb's account of how he and Malone drew lots for the V.C., would make it appear that the latter's award was almost pure chance.

 alaclava: Sergeant Malone gains the VC. Painting by Harry Payne [date?]. Click to enlarge.

Balaclava: Sergeant Malone gains the VC. Painting by Harry Payne [date?].

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"As I went on I saw one of the captains — Captain Webb it was — lying on the ground, and there was two troopers trying to help him. And one of them called to me. 'Lamb,' he says, 'can't you give Captain Webb a drink of water?'

"Now, my water bottle was strapped to my saddle; we could carry our bottles that way if we wanted, or strapped to ourselves, and I always kept mine strapped to my saddle to keep my sword arm free.

"So I hadn't any water, and there was Captain Webb, wounded and suffering. And afterwards he died, sir.

"Well, I felt that of course I must get that water for the captain, and so I went back, picking my way over horses and men, looking for an unsmashed bottle. I suppose it seemed queerlike, to see me just walking hack again the wrong way, but I never took thought o' that. I just wanted to get some water for Captain Webb, for he was a fine officer, and he was suffering. I wouldn't think of calling it bravery. I just wanted to get some water, and pretty soon I found it, strapped to the saddle of a dead horse.

"I unfastened it, and all in a minute it came to me that I never was so thirsty in all my life. That thirst, it was something awful the way it come over me the minute I got that water bottle in my hand. Till then I never thought of such a thing — you don't, while you're fighting, you know. Well, I had never knowed such thirst, and there I was with water in my hand, and so I took a pull at it before I started back for Captain Webb.

"There was enough for us both," he added naively.

"I got back to the captain. 'Men, leave me and save yourselves,' he was saying; but he felt better with the drink of water, and then the two troopers helped him to get ahead.

"And now I saw a lancer close by, and I helped him on, and carried him on my back for a little.

"Now, don't think it was bravery at all. When there's something to do like this you don't notice shells or such things; that's all."

He was silent for a little, going over and over the events of the long-past battle. Then he said, wistfully:

"I almost got the V.C. for that little matter of the drink of water. For some of the men or the officers saw it, and so, when it was decided to pick a man from each of the five regiments for the V.C. — for they said that though every man deserved it, yet they couldn't give it to every one of us — well, for the 13th, it was decided that it was between my comrade Malone and me, and we were told to draw lots for it. And Malone he drew first, and so he got it."

To Lamb's mind it is clear that Malone won because he drew first. "He drew first, and so he got it," he repeated, still aggrieved after all this time. "Well, he's dead this many a year. A fair man he was, and he got the V.C. fair, but he had the first draw."

[Source: James Lamb, "Personal Narrative of the Battle of Balaclava, as told by a survivor, at his home in Battersea, and set down by Robert Shackleton", Harper's Monthly Magazine (1908), p.305-306.]

Corporal to Sergeant: 20th of September 1855.

Served in Captain Tremayne's E Troop.

EJB: Lummis and Wynn refer to his having been Acting Quartermaster and Adjutant in the 13th Light Dragoons from the 3rd of September 1855, but there is no actual record of his ever having been commissioned into the 13th.

Sent to the Riding Establishment at Maidstone on the 10th of August 1857, where he remained until the 10th of June 1858.

Extract from a letter sent from the Cavalry Depot, Maidstone, dated 20th July 1858, which stated in part (after referring to other possible candidates):

"But there is Sergeant Malone of the 13th Light Dragoons, who was passed out with the last Ride in June, and is in every respect qualified, and would make a very efficient Riding Master. If now sent back to this establishment immediately he would be ready to proceed with the 6th Dragoons or meet them in India via the overland route. I can thoroughly recommend him; he has the Victoria Cross and is a very intelligent man.

Believe me, etc.,

Yours faithfully,

Charles Baulders,

Col. Commandant."

Sent back to the Maidstone Riding Establishment from Dublin on the 30th of July 1858, and was transferred (By Authority) to the 6th Dragoons as No. 450, on the 24th of August 1858.

Embarked for India on the 26th of August 1858, and gazetted as Riding Master, without purchase, in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, on the 7th of September 1858. He remained in India until the 6th of April 1867.

1881 Census

Royal Artillery Barracks, Cheriton, Kent

The 1881 Census Return shows Joseph Malone as a Riding Master, aged 46, born at Eccles, Lancashire, with his wife, Eliza, aged 44, born at Boston, Lincolnshire, and six children: three sons and three daughters. The two eldest of were born in the East Indies.

Two Domestic Servants were also shown.

It would appear that wives and families of the Regiment were not present in South Africa at the time, judging from the large number of entries of men sending allowances back to England. The only entry for Joseph Malone in the musters, apart from that merely recording his death, is, "Credit in Pay List, £38/18/9d".

Embarked at Chatham from the Canterbury Cavalry Depot for South Africa on the 7th of November 1882.


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

A supplementary roll (undated) signed by Major Henry Holden shows him as being issued with the Crimean medal (with clasps for Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman) on the 7th of October 1855.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the citation stating:

"For having stopped under a very heavy fire to take charge of Captain Webb, 17th Lancers, until others arrived to assist him in moving that officer who was (as it afterwards proved) mortally wounded. Sergeant Malone performed this act of bravery whilst returning on foot from the Charge at the Battle of Balaclava in which his horse had been shot."

He was also present at the actions of the Bulganak and Mckenzie's Farm and during the Expedition to Eupatoria.

He was one of a small number of men who were presented by Queen Victoria with the Victoria Cross at a ceremony held on the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle on the 28th of November 1857, the whole of the Windsor Garrison attending.

Further detailed medal information archived.



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J Malone photographed in later life in the uniform of the 6th Hussars [date?]

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Death & burial

He died suddenly in the Officers' Mess, the Rugby Hotel, at Pinetown, Natal, South Africa, at the age of 50, from bronchitis, on the 28th of June 1883, and was buried on the 29th of June. (Then ranking as Captain and Riding Master.)

Joseph Malone VC, 13th Light Dragoons. Headstone. Photograph by Mrs Bee, allatsea.co.za/blog/joseph-malone-vc

Joseph Malone VC. His headstone at the Old Cemetery, Pinetown, Natal, South Africa. Photograph by Mrs Bee, allatsea.co.za/blog/joseph-malone-vc.

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The inscription on his tombstone in the Old Cemetery (St. Andrew's, Kings Road, also known as Christ's Church) Pinetown, Natal, South Africa, reads:

"In memory of Captain J. Malone, V.C. Riding Master, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, who died at Pinetown, June 28th 1883, aged 50 years.

He served throughout the Eastern campaign of 1854-55 and was One of the Six Hundred at Balaclava, October 25th 1854."

Joseph Malone VC. Grave location at the Old Cemetery, Pinetown, Natal, South Africa. Photograph by Mrs Bee, allatsea.co.za/blog/joseph-malone-vc Joseph Malone VC. Grave at the Old Cemetery, Pinetown, Natal, South Africa. Photograph by Mrs Bee, allatsea.co.za/blog/joseph-malone-vc

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Extract from the United Services Gazette for the 21st of July 1883. After recording his death, the article continues:

"A correspondent writes — Having known this officer for a great number of years I am in a position to say what an excellent, energetic and hard-working officer he has always been and in what an admirable manner he has performed his duties. I know that his death at a comparatively early age will be very much regretted in the regiment where he had so many friends and in which he had served for so many years.

He had been ailing ever since he arrived with the regiment in 1882, but he would not be invalided home as he could have been, his great wish being to end his service (he had only one more year left to serve) in the Dragoons, and then to retire. He has, however, died at his post and the country has lost a faithful officer."

His name is recorded, among others, on a brass tablet in Maritzburg Cathedral as having died from bronchitis.

Further information

He was concerned, as was his father-in-law, Captain Weir, with giving evidence in the court-martial at Mhow, India, of Paymaster Smales of the Inniskillings in 1861, and indeed held the post of Assistant Paymaster whilst this was in progress, a position that he did not relish.

The whole proceedings were admirably covered in a book by A.H. Haley, The Crawley Affair, published in 1972.

Extract from an unknown and undated printed report (but obviously some time in October 1954):

Balaclava recalled

About 150 people gathered in the little Pinetown churchyard of St. Andrew's (King's Road) last Sunday afternoon to commemorate the centenary of Balaclava. Wreaths were laid on the renovated grave of Captain Malone of the 13th Hussars, who won the Victoria Cross in the epic Charge of the Light Brigade. Mr. A.C. Fitch, a Trooper in the 13th Hussars during the Boer War, laid a wreath on behalf of the Regiment.

Mr. Fitch was commissioned to lay the wreath by the Officer Commanding the regiment now stationed in Germany. Many of the wooden crosses there had rotted away and as the result of much work done by the late Councillor Norah Dales and the S.A. War Graves Board in conjunction with the Pinetown Lodge of the Sons of England, the 1879 military plot was also re-railed and a handsome granite cross erected, on which are engraved the names of 22 soldiers and a soldier's son, aged 3 years. (Families of regiments were brought out from England and many stayed here.)

The obelisk was erected in January of 1962 and each year on a date near to the battle of Isandlhwana anniversary, the local Sons of England hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial. In St. Andrew's churchyard there is a marble monument to the names of 14 men of the 7th Hussars who died at Pinetown between 1881-82 and there are several individual graves of soldiers who died at later dates.

In one such grave lies Captain Malone, V.C. Riding-Master of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. He was one of the early recipients of the V.C. and he died on June 28th 1883 in Pinetown. He served throughout the Crimean War and was one of the 600 immortalised in Tennyson's poem, "Charge of the Light Brigade".

In 1954, the centenary of the battle of Balaclava, the Pinetown Moths, persuaded by Mr. Neil Pascoe, had renovated this military plot, erected the marble monument and held a memorial service. The writer vividly remembers a talk on "Old Pinetown" nearly 30 years ago when Miss Sarah Horton described Pinetown as she remembered it as a young girl. These are her own words:

'Sometimes the bandsmen mounted on their horses, played martial music from one end of the village to the other. Every Sabbath evening at 9.p.m the band played three verses of "Hark my soul, it is the Lord", the first coming over as a whisper, the next louder, and the third verse swelling grandly over the darkness of the night.

'There were not any street lamps or electric lighting in those days and only twinkling little lights betrayed where the music came from; it was an experience once heard never to be forgotten, the first notes of the hymn stealing over the quiet country-side at night.

'The first soldier's funeral witnessed by me was that of Captain Malone, V.C. His body was brought from the Rugby Hotel (where he had died in the Officer's Mess there) on a gun-carriage, drawn by soldiers, his horse led in front of it, his boots hanging reversed from the saddle with his sword and knapsack rolled on it, the helmet resting on the coffin.

'The band played the "Dead March" and the men moved slowly and majestically to the solemn sounds; and we children were moved to tears by the pathos and marvel of it all. We never became accustomed to the pathos of a soldier's funeral, although we witnessed many during the years the troops were here. Enteric fever claimed many deaths and it was not known how to combat it in those days.'"

Unfortunately, only a few records of the burial of soldiers can be found in the Church registers, the services probably being conducted by a military chaplain. A note in the "Natal Mercury" of the 28th February 1885 states that cases of enteric fever were still being treated at the camp hospital, so it can be presumed that this was the cause of Captain Malone's death.

EJB: Many famous regiments were stationed at Pinetown in the 1880s, including the 7th Hussars, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, the South Lancs. Regiment, and Pinetown was a hive of social activity. Dances and concerts were held in the local carpenter's shop, in the school-room and in the camps, but a village-hall became a pressing need and was first mooted in August of 1881.

The obvious place for it was in the Market Square, but the contentious question of ownership arose, which was not settled until 30 years later. On a site offered on liberal terms by the Revd. T.E. Robinson near St. John's Church, the first village-hall was built by share-holders, the hall being opened on the 15th of November 1883 with a concert under the patronage of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons.

External links

To follow up

"The Crawley Affair"

A full account of these trials appeared in The Crawley Affair, by A.H. Haley, published by Seeley, Service & Co in London in 1972. There is a copy in the archive.

PB: The publisher's blurb reads:

"India in 1861 was not a place where the whims of a British Cavalry Colonel could be lightly ignored. When Colonel Crawley took over command of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons at Admednugger in April of that year the Regiment, already at odds with higher authority, was subjected to a man with a remarkably volatile temper and acid tongue.

In a very short time the officers' mess was split into two opposing camps — a majority burning with resentment against their Commanding Officer and a few who supported him.

Thus began a chain of events which led to the death of the Regimental Sergeant Major and which ended with a Court Martial in Aldershot on which was focussed the full glare of Victorian publicity, at once prudish and prurient.

Mr Haley skilfully weaves together the personal tragedy of RSM Lilley and his wife with the invidious position of Senior Officers who became personally involved in the problems of Colonel Crawley and were gradually manoeuvred into supporting him in order to maintain their own reputations."

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