Duncan Charles Home VC

b. 10/06/1828 Jabalpur, India. d. 01/10/1857 Malagarh, India.

Duncan Charles Home (1828-1857) was born in Jubbulpore, Central Provinces, India on 10th June 1828, the son of Major General Richard Home of the Bengal Army. As with many sons of serving Indian officers, he was sent to England at the early age of eight for his education. As planned, he progressed to the HEIC Seminary at Addiscombe and passed out head of his class in July 1846. After further instruction with the Royal Engineers at Chatham, he returned to India as a subaltern in the 3rd Company, Bengal Engineers. He arrived in time to take part in the final battle at Gujarat in the Punjab Campaign (Second Sikh War) in 1849.

Duncan C Home VC

Home spent five years working more as a civil engineer than a military man, supervising the construction of canals in the Punjab. In 1854, he was promoted to Lieutenant. When news of the outbreak of the mutiny reached the Punjab, Lieutenant Home was delegated to select 160 of his best men, now named the Punjab Sappers, and take them to the British Camp at Delhi. They arrived on 20th August 1857 and Home and his canal diggers were immediately assigned to prepare gun emplacements for the forthcoming assault.

He had been with one of the reconnaissance parties that examined the breaches in the walls. When he returned at midnight, he learned he was to lead the “explosion party”. Once the door had been blown, Home remained in the ditch while Campbell’s No 3 Column dashed across the bridge and through the Kashmir Gate. He paused to check on the wounded, before following into the city. He caught up with them locked in hand to hand combat, and unable to join in the fighting, he found a sheltered corner and fell asleep.

When he awoke, he rejoined the advance and was slightly wounded. For the next few days, Home was with the troops as they closed in on the Royal Palace. Repeating his feat at the Kashmir Gate, he dashed forward, placed an explosive charge and blew in the doors. By 20th September 1857, the city had fallen into British hands.

Home then joined one of the columns that went in pursuit of the rebels. He was appointed Chief Field Engineer in Colonel Greathed’s Column which left Delhi on 24th September. On the 28th, they caught up with a strong force of rebels at Bolandshahr and, after a sharp fight, captured the town. From there, cavalry patrols were sent out to scour the surrounding areas and one reported that a small, deserted fort at Malagarh had been used as an arsenal. Home was given the task of blowing up the fortifications and making the area safe. For the next three days he worked with the sappers and some men of the 9th Lancers sorting through what could be safely saved and what should be destroyed. On the third day, 1st October 1857, with the work nearly finished, he was killed. He was killed by a mine that he was laying. He was buried in Bolandshahr Cemetery, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Home’s award of the Victoria Cross was gazetted on 18th June 1858, and his medal was posted to his parents. Sometime in the 1920s his Victoria Cross was lost when the son of the owner took the medal outside the house to play soldiers with it in a field. Despite numerous searches then and since, the medal has not been traced.