Michael Sleavon VC

b. 1826 Magheraculmoney, Ireland. d. 15/08/1902 Dromard, County Sligo, Ireland.

Michael Sleavon (1826-1902) was born in 1826 in County Fermanagh, Ireland. Like many of his compatriots, the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s forced him to join the British Army. Sleavon enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1847 but soon his skills as a mason persuaded him to transfer to the Royal Engineers. He served in Bermuda, Mauritius and India, gaining promotion to corporal. He was serving with 21st Company attached to Brigadier Stuart’s 1st Brigade when he became involved in the build up to the assault on the fort of Jhansi in early April 1858.

Michael Sleavon VC

On 3rd April 1858, Sleavon was directed by his commanding officer, Captain John Ballis, to construct a parapet by piling up doors and bedsteads, boxes and other materials to provide cover for the assault. The enemy quickly realised what was happening and concentrated their musket fire on that spot. Scarcely anything had been built up when the enemy fire became so intense that it seemed that the task was impossible. Several men were hit and killed, but Sleavon persevered and maintained his position at the head of the sap. He continued to build the parapet, and worked until the capture of the Palace had been achieved.

His commanding officer’s report helped Sleavon to be awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation appeared on 11th November 1859, and it is believed he received his medal via post sometime in 1860. He retired from the Army in 1871 after 24 years’ service. He returned to Ireland and lived on a farm on the Archdall estate at Dromard near Kesh. He died there on 15th August 1902 and was buried in Bannagh Roman Catholic Churchyard, Tubrid, County Fermanagh. His medals are not publicly held.