John Watson VC

Name: John Watson

Conflict: Indian Mutiny

Gazetted: June 18, 1858

Service: Indian Army

John Watson VC
John Watson Medals
Medal group

Place/date of birth:  Chigwell, Essex/September 6, 1829

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Lieutenant (later General and Sir)

Date of bravery: November 14, 1857

London Gazette citation:

1st Punjab Cavalry. Lieutenant John Watson. Date of Act of Bravery, 14th November, 1857.

“Lieut. Watson, on the 14th November, with his own squadron, and that under Captain, then Lieutenant, Probyn, came upon a body of the rebel cavalry. The Ressaldar in command of them, – a fine specimen of the Hindustani Mussulman, – and backed up by some half dozen equally brave men, rode out to the front. Lieutenant Watson singled out this fine looking fellow, and attacked him. The Ressaldar presented his pistol at Lieutenant Watson’s breast, at a yard’s distance, and fired; but, most providentially, without effect; the ball must, by accident, have previously fallen out. Lieutenant Watson ran the man through with his sword, and dismounted him; but the native officer, nothing daunted, drew his tulwar, and with his Sowars renewed his attack upon Lieutenant Watson, who bravely defended himself until his own men joined in the melee, and utterly routed the party. In this rencontre, Lieutenant Watson received a blow on the head from a tulwar, another on the left arm, which severed his chain gauntlet glove, a tulwar cut on his right arm, which fortunately only divided the sleeve of the jacket, but disabled the arm for some time; a bullet also passed through his coat, and he received a blow on his leg, which lamed him for some days afterwards.”

(Despatch from Major-General James Hope Grant, K.C.B., dated 10th January, 1858.)

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations: GCB

Place/date of death: Finchampstead, Berkshire/January 23, 1919

Grave/memorials: St James Churchyard, Finchampstead, Berkshire

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Sotheby’s, London, 1999

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum