b. 1822 Bradford, Yorkshire. d. 09/01/1882 Wapping Road, Bradford, Yorkshire.
Matthew Hughes (1822-1882) was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1822. It is known he was baptised in Bradford on 31st March 1822, but his birth date is unknown. He enlisted as Private Matthew Hughes, Number 1879 in the 7th Royal Fusiliers sometime prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854.
Hughes travelled with his Regiment to the Crimean Peninsula and spent the majority of his time there in the trenches during the Siege of Sebastopol. On the 7th June 1855, Hughes’ actions were noticed by Colonel Campbell of the 90th Light Infantry who witnessed during the storming of the Quarries, the gallantry performed by the Private. Hughes was seen twice going for ammunition under heavy Russian fire across the open ground. He also was seen charging to the front and rescuing Private John Hampton, who was lying severely wounded in the open.
Hughes would repeat some of his gallant actions just 11 days later during the assault on the Redan. He volunteered without hesitation to run out into the open ground, again under heavy fire, to bring in the severely wounded officer, Lieutenant Hobson of the 7th Royal Fusiliers. Hughes managed to carry the officer back to British lines despite being severely wounded himself. Hughes recovered from his wounds and returned to England with the Crimean Medal with three clasps.
Less than a year after his return to England, it was announced on 24th February 1857, that Hughes was one of the first men to be gazetted for the Victoria Cross. Hughes was one of the 62 men who attended the first investiture in Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1857 and was personally presented with the medal by Queen Victoria.
Hughes retired from the Army and though little is known of his civilian life, it is known that he returned to his roots in West Yorkshire. He died in Bradford on 9th January 1882 aged 59 at his lodgings in Wapping Road, and was buried in Undercliffe Cemetery. In 1998, his grave was renovated after being discovered in an overgrown state. His medals are held and displayed at the Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL FUSILIERS MUSEUM, TOWER OF LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: UNDERCLIFFE CEMETERY, BRADFORD, YORKSHIRE.
CONSECRATED SECTION N, GRAVE 388
John Halley – Image of the Hughes VC Grave in Undercliffe Cemetery.
Kevin Brazier – Undercliffe Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Hughes Medal Group at Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London.
Paul Deeprose – Image of the Hughes VC Medal.