b. 29/06/1845 Kilibriken, Ireland. d. 01/12/1880 Poona, India.
James Bergin (1845-1880) was born on 29th June 1845 in Killbricken, County Laois, Ireland. Little is known about his early life prior to his enlistment with the 10th Regiment of Foot in 1862. The following year, he volunteered to transfer to the 108th Regiment, with whom he sailed for India in 1863. In 1867, he transferred again to the 33rd Regiment of Foot (later Duke of Wellington’s Regiment), and would serve with them with distinction in the Abyssinian War of 1868.
On the 13th April 1868, during an assault on Magdala, the head of the column’s attack stuttered due to obstacles at the gate. At this point, a small group of officers and men of the 33rd Regiment and an officer of the Royal Engineers broke away from the main approach, climbed a cliff and forced their way over a wall, thus turning the defenders from the gateway. The first two men to enter the gates of Magdala were Private James Bergin and Drummer Michael Magner.
Both men were recommended for, and awarded the VC on 28th July 1868. He would be presented with his medal in April 1869 by Brigadier-General James Domville at Belgaum, India. Following his VC action, Bergin transferred for a fourth time into the 78th Highlanders, and returned to service in India. Sadly, he died aged just 35 on 1st December 1880 in Poona. He was buried in an unmarked grave in St Patrick’s Churchyard, Poona. His medals are held by the Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Museum, Halifax, Yorkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:DUKE OF WELLINGTON REGIMENT MUSEUM, HALIFAX, YORKS.
BURIAL PLACE: ST PATRICKS CHURCHYARD, POONA, INDIA. (UNMARKED)
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Bergin Medal Group in Duke of Wellington Regiment Museum, Halifax.