Thomas Murphy VC

b. c.1832 Dublin, Ireland. d. 22/03/1899 Luzerne, Pittston, Pennsylvania, USA.

Thomas Murphy (1832-1900) was born in circa 1832 in Dublin, Ireland as Thomas Cosgrove and enlisted at the age of 16 under his mother’s maiden name, Murphy, with the 24th Regiment of Foot (later South Wales Borderers). He was incorporated into the 2nd Battalion and was posted to India.

Thomas Murphy VC

Shortly before the 7th May 1867, at the island of Little Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal, a ship called the “Assam Valley” had anchored, and some of the crew went ashore. Shortly afterwards, news came that the crew had been set upon and murdered by some of the natives, as none of them had returned. In order to ascertain the crew’s fate, a second steamer was sent from Rangoon and landed near the island on the 7th. Some of their crew was attacked by the natives and with a huge storm raging, a rescue mission was organised to try and reach them. With the soldiers in peril on shore, Dr Campbell Mellis Douglas and four fellow members of the 24th including Thomas Murphy, manned a gig and attempted to reach them.

They very nearly succeeded in their endeavours, but, the boat beginning to fill rapidly, they were forced to retire. They then made a second attempt and were successful in reaching the shore, taking off five men. On these being placed safely on board, the doctor and his four brave men turned once more to the rescue of the rest of the soldiers, and by their strenuous efforts the entire party was eventually taken off the island.

Murphy alongside his four comrades, was gazetted for the VC on 17th December 1867, and was invested with his medal in Rangoon on 16th April 1868 by Major-General A Faunce, the GOC Pegu. Little is known of his later life except that he did emigrate with his family to the United States, where he and his wife Catherine (nee Dougherty) settled in Pittston, Pennsylvania. He worked as a miner and lived in Pittston for 30 years. He died at his home, 133 John Street, Luzerne, Pittston, on 22nd March 1900. Following recent research into his burial location it has now been uncovered that he was buried on 24th March 1900 at St John the Evangelist Cemetery, Pittston. Unfortunately, the cemetery records were lost in a fire in the 1930s so his exact burial location is not known at this time. The burial register records his burial as Thomas Cosgrove but does indicate he was a recipient of the VC. The location of his Victoria Cross is also not known.