Monday, 11 March 2013

Cawnpore in the news

General Havelock's relief of Cawnpore did not mark an end to the fighting there. Tatya Tope later attempted  to recover control of the city. There was a major battle and the British took heavy casualties.

The National Army Museum has just been given the tunic of one of the officers wounded in the fighting. Lieutenant Campbell Clark was ambushed by rebel sepoys and shot in the stomach. Astonishingly, he survived. The tunic, complete with bullet hole, was passed down through his family and given to the museum by his great-great-nephew.

Tunic worn by Lieutenant Campbell Clark, 2nd Bengal European Fusiliers, at Cawnpore, 1857

Lieutenant Clark was forced to wear a truss for the rest of his life to support his stomach and prevent his bowels from spilling out. He went on to have a long and successful career in India and at home, rising to the rank of colonel. He died of stomach cancer in Suffolk on 28 March 1896, aged 69.

The National Army Museum is one of London's less known museums. Situated close to Chelsea Hospital (the home of the Chelsea pensioners), it is a treasure trove of militaria, commemorating the army's activities for over 200 years. For anyone with an interest in military history, it is well worth a visit. Admission is free.

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