Charles Henry Lumley VC

b. 1824 Forres, Scotland. d. 17/10/1858 Brecknock, Powys, Wales.

Charles Henry Lumley (1824-1858) was born in 1824 in Forres House, Forres, Morayshire, Scotland. He decided to enlist in the Army at the age of 20 on 30th August 1844, joining the 97th Regiment of Foot (later The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment). He rose up the ranks reaching Lieutenant in February 1848 and Captain on 29th December 1854, just after the outbreak of the Crimean War.

Charles H Lumley VC

Lumley served throughout the conflict, particularly in the trenches outside of the walls of Sebastopol, where he was to perform the deed which would eventually lead to the award of the VC. On the 8th September 1855, during the assault on the Redan, Captain Lumley was one of the first to get inside the Russian works, where he was immediately set upon by three Russian gunners, who were reloading their field gun. They attacked him, and he was able to shoot and kill two of them with his revolver. He was then hit by a stone thrown by the third man, which momentarily stunned him. He quickly regained his senses and drew his sword. He then began to encourage the other men forward, when he was struck in the mouth by a ball, which wounded him severely.

He was awarded the Brevet of Major on the 2nd November 1855, and the French awarded him the Legion of Honour. On 24th February 1857, he was amongst the first group of men included in the London Gazette announcing the award of the VC.

Lumley who had recovered from his severe wounds, then attended the first investiture of the medal in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857 and was personally presented with it by Queen Victoria. Lumley was promoted to Major on 4th December 1857, and soon afterwards was posted to St Mary’s Barracks, Brecknock, near Brecon, Wales. Lumley was badly affected by his experiences in the Crimea and it is believed fell on hard times, which may have explained why, on 17th October 1858, aged 34, who chose to turn a gun on himself.

Lumley was buried in the churchyard of Brecon Cathedral, and is also named on his wife’s (Letitia) headstone in Locksbrook Cemetery, Bath when she died in 1890. Lumley’s medals are held by the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum, Maidstone where replicas on are on display.