Personal info

  • Name: William CONNOLLY
  • D.O.B: 1st May, 1817
  • D.O.A: 7th Jul, 1857
  • D.O.D: 31st Dec, 1891
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Gunner, 1st Troop, 3rd Brigade, Bengal Horse Artillery, Honourable East India Company Forces
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Jhelum, India 7 July 1857

7 July 1857

More details about:
The Indian Mutiny 1857-59 

For the most part the Punjab, annexed in 1849, remained quiet due to the efforts of its Chief Commissioner Sir John Lawrence (brother of Sir Henry Lawrence). Any regiment, the loyalty of which was doubted, was disarmed. In July a column was sent to disarm the 14th Native Infantry, stationed at Jhelum, over 350 miles north-west of Delhi, where the Grand Trunk Road between Lahore and Rawalpindi crosses the Jhelum river. In fact, the approach of this column on 7 July triggered the mutiny of the regiment. In the fighting that followed the 24th Regiment succeeded in driving the rebels out of their lines into the neighbouring village. The British artillery came under heavy attack and one gun was actually captured by the mutineers who, however, abandoned their positions during that night.

Citation

 This Soldier is recommended for the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in Action with the Enemy, at Jhelum, on the 7th of July 1857. Lieutenant Cookes, Bengal Horse Artillery, reports, that “about daybreak on that day, I advanced my half Troop at a gallop, and engaged the Enemy within easy musket range. The Sponge-man of one of my Guns having been shot during the advance, Gunner Connolly assumed the duties of 2nd Sponge-man, and he had barely assisted in two discharges of his Gun, when a musket-ball, through the left thigh, felled him to the ground; nothing daunted by pain and loss of blood, he was endeavouring to resume his post, when I ordered a movement in retirement, and though severely wounded, he was mounted on his horse in the Gun-team, and rode to the next position which the Guns took up, and manfully declined going to the rear when the necessity of his so doing was represented to him. About 11 o’clock, A.M., when the Guns were still in Action, the same Gunner, whilst sponging, was again knocked down by a musket-ball striking him on the hip, thereby causing great faintness and partial unconsciousness, for the pain appeared excessive, and the blood flowed fast. On seeing this, I gave directions for his removal out of Action; but this brave man hearing me, staggered to his feet, and said, ‘No, Sir, I’ll not go there, whilst I can work here’, and shortly afterwards he again resumed his post as Sponge-man. Late in the afternoon of the same day, my three Guns were engaged at one hundred yards from the Walls of a Village with the defenders, viz., the 14th Native Infantry – Mutineers – amidst a storm of bullets which did great execution. Gunner Connolly, though suffering severely from his two previous wounds, was wielding his sponge with an energy and courage which attracted the admiration of his comrades, and while cheerfully encouraging a wounded man to hasten in bringing up the ammunition, a musket-ball tore through the muscles of his right leg; but with the most undaunted bravery he struggled on; and not till he had loaded six times, did this man give way, when, through loss of blood, he fell in my arms, and I placed him on a waggon, which shortly afterwards bore him in a state of unconsciousness from the fight.” 

The London Gazette of 3 September 1858, Numb. 22179, pp. 4014-15

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