- Name: Thomas LANE
- D.O.B: 2nd May, 1836
- D.O.A: 21st Aug, 1860
- D.O.D: 13th Apr, 1889
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Private, 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
The North Taku Fort, Peiho river, China 21 August 1860
21 August 1860
CHINA and JAPAN 1860-64
The relationship of China with the increasingly assertive Western powers was bedevilled by the Emperor’s unwillingness to have direct diplomatic relations with them or to treat them as equals. The execution of a French missionary and the seizure of Chinese crew members aboard the British-registered ship Arrow, both in 1856, had led in 1857 to the Second China War. In the south, British forces occupied Canton, while in the north, in May 1858, they seized the Taku forts at the mouth of the Peiho river. These guarded the route inland to Tientsin and Peking. The British envoy, Lord Elgin, had been determined to proceed to Peking but in June was persuaded to negotiate a Treaty with the Chinese commissioners at Tientsin. Apart from opening more Chinese ports to foreign trade, this allowed for a Western diplomatic presence in the capital itself. The Treaty was to be ratified at Peking in 1859. However a British and French attempt to send envoys there the following year was prevented and a British attack on the Taku forts was repulsed. The Third China War resulted. On 1 August 1860 an Anglo-French force of 16,000 men, under Lieutenant General Sir Hope Grant and General de Montauban, landed at Pehtang, just north of the Taku forts. After some preliminary skirmishes, on 21 August 1860 the allies attacked the northern fort on the left bank of the Peiho river. Attempts by a storming party of the 44th and 67th Regiments to use scaling ladders were unsuccessful and Sir Robert Napier ordered a further bombardment to widen the breach in the wall. This was protected by two water-filled ditches which the attackers had to cross. Two Frenchmen were the first to reach the fort but were soon joined by their British allies, and the fort was taken. Later the same day, the Chinese abandoned the south fort. The Allies crossed the river and occupied it, capturing 400 guns. After the capture of the forts the Allies advanced to Peking. The Emperor and his court had retreated north to Jehol. On 24 October 1860 the Emperor’s brother, Prince Kung, ratified the 1858 treaty and signed a convention by which China would pay a War Indemnity to the allies.
For distinguished gallantry in swimming the Ditches of the North Taku Fort, and persevering in attempting during the assault, and before the entrance of the Fort had been effected by any one, to enlarge an opening in the Wall, through which they eventually entered, and, in doing so, were both severely wounded.