b. 08/1818 Probus, Cornwall. d. 24/09/1872 Folkestone, Kent.
Joseph Charles Brennan (1828-1872) was born in the village of St. Probus, Cornwall in August 1828. He enlisted with the Royal Artillery on 27th December 1855, giving his occupation as a “clerk”. His regiment joined Sir Hugh Rose’s Central India Field Force at Mhow on 6th January 1858; Brennan was despatched with a number of men to fight Tantia Topi at Betwa before returning to join the bombardment of the Jhansi Fort. He would be recommended for the Victoria Cross for his actions at Jhansi, and his citation appeared in the London Gazette on 11th November 1859.
On 3rd April 1858 during the assault on Jhansi, he helped bring up two guns of the Hyderabad Contingent, manned by the natives, laying each gun under a heavy fire from the walls of the fort, and directing them accurately as to compel the enemy to abandon the position. He was presented with his VC at Gwalior on 20th April 1860 and he was promoted to quartermaster-sergeant.
In October 1863, while stationed in Delhi with the 22nd Brigade Royal Artillery, he was court-martialled for not attending a commanding officer’s parade. He was found guilty and was reduced to the rank of gunner. He took part in the Bhutan War of 1864-1865 before returning to England. He later regained his sergeant rank and married the daughter of a Royal Artillery pensioner in 1870. They had two children born in 1871 and 1872.
Tragically, Joseph died suddenly of pneumonia at Shorncliffe Camp, Kent on 24th September 1872, leaving his widow with two infants. He was buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Kent. His medals were auctioned in 2008 and were purchased by a private buyer from South Australia. They have since been purchased by Lord Ashcroft.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
BURIAL PLACE: SHORNCLIFFE MILITARY CEMETERY, KENT.
Stewart May – Grave Image from Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Lord Ashcroft Collection Website – Image of the Brennan VC Medal Group.