b. 19/10/1836 Broxborne, Hertfordshire. d. 03/09/1927 Garessio, Italy.
Sir Edward Talbot Thackeray (1836-1927) was born on 19th October 1836, at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, the son of the Reverend Francis St John Thackeray MA, and of Mary Anne, daughter of John Shakespear, of Singleton, Essex. Sir Edward Thackeray was the first cousin of the writer William Makepeace Thackeray. He was educated at Marlborough College and then the Honourable East India Company College at Addiscombe Seminary. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Bengal Engineers in 1857 just weeks before the outbreak of the Mutiny and joined the Delhi column that fought the engagements at Hindun and Budli-ki-Serai.
On 16th September 1857 he was in the Delhi Magazine when the rebels attacked and started a fire in a shed filled with live shells; Thackeray remained there until he had extinguished the flames. Thackeray played down his own part in the action stating “We had got up on the roof with leather bags of water and put it out while they threw stones at us….I think that day I had the narrowest escape of any. After putting out part of the fire, I was jumping down when three of them put their heads over the wall and took three deliberate shots at me, all of which missed. A Lieutenant of Artillery (George Renny VC) then got on top of the Artillery Magazine with 10 inch shells in his hand. He lighted the fuse and dropped them on their heads.
After Delhi, Thackeray was present at many actions during 1858-1859 and thought little more of his actions at the Delhi Magazine. A whole year had passed before the Bengal Engineers learned that Renny had been awarded the VC, and they believing that their man deserved the same, the former Chief Engineer, Colonel Baird Smith petitioned the War Office, who despite the 5 year gap, finally agreed that Thackeray should also receive the VC. He was gazetted on 29th April 1862, and received his medal in Dover in July that year from General A.A. Dalzell.
He went on to serve in the Afghan War of 1878-1880 and made Commandant of the Bengal Sappers and Miners before retiring from the Army in 1888. He was an active member of the Red Cross and was Chief Commissioner of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He retired to Italy and during the First World War was Commissioner of the Bordighera branch of the British Red Cross, receiving a Mentioned in Despatches as well as WWI campaign medals – surely the only veteran of the Indian Mutiny to do so. He died in Bordighera on 3rd September 1927 aged 91 and was buried in the English Cemetery in Bordighera. His medals were sold at auction in 2007 at Bonhams and purchased by the Military History Museum of South Africa in Johannesburg.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MILITARY HISTORY MUSEUM, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA.
BURIAL PLACE: ENGLISH CEMETERY, BORDIGHERA, ITALY.