William Henry Thomas Sylvester VC

b. 16/04/1831 Devizes, Wiltshire. d. 13/03/1920 Paignton, Devon.

William Henry Thomas Sylvester (1831-1920) was born on 16th April 1831 in a house in Long Street, Devizes, Wiltshire. He trained as a doctor in Edinburgh and enlisted with the 23rd Regiment of Foot (later the Royal Welch Regiment) as an Assistant Surgeon.

William H T Sylvester VC

Sylvester was posted with his Regiment to the Crimean Peninsula in latter of 1854 and he served throughout the campaign in the trenches of Sebastopol. He was mentioned in despatches, awarded the Crimean Medal with clasp, and was created a Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French for his actions in the War.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross on 20th November 1857, for his actions during the assault on the Redan just under two years earlier on 8th September 1855. During the assault, Lieutenant and Adjutant Dyneley was hit and badly wounded. He was lying in the open in front of the right flank of the attack. Sylvester volunteered to go out and try and help the Lieutenant, and ran out under heavy enemy fire and managed to reach Dyneley. He was supported in the effort by Robert Shields VC.  Sadly, Dyneley was mortally wounded, but Sylvester still dressed his wounds in a dangerous and exposed position.

Sylvester was then posted soon afterwards to the Indian Mutiny, where his Victoria Cross was presented him having been posted out to India and presented to him in 1858. He served in the Relief of Lucknow and was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal with two clasps. He retired from service in the Army in 1861 as a Surgeon Major.

He retired down to the South West of England, and stayed in the medical profession. He died on 13th March 1920 at his home, 8 Beach Road, Paignton, Devon after a short illness, aged 88. He was laid to rest in Paignton Cemetery. His medals are now displayed at the Museum of Military Medicine, Keogh Barracks, Mytchett, Surrey.




Grave 2614


Kevin Brazier – Image of the Sylvester VC Grave and the Cemetery Map for Paignton Cemetery, Devon.

Thomas Stewart – Images of the Sylvester VC Medal Group at the RAMC Museum, Keogh Barracks, and of the VC Board at the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon.