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Himley, Wombourne, John Stratford, Staffordshire Yeomanry.
My thanks to the contributor of the following story, which, with corrections, will I hope, make interesting reading. Once again, we are dealing with a man who was not born in the region, had a rather exciting early life, but lived here for over 60 years. John Stratford, was christened at Saint George in the East, Middlesex, on 23rd July, 1829. He was born in the mean and dirty streets of Stepney, just off the Mile End Road, and within the sound of the old Bow Bells. A proper " Cockney ". How he ended up in a Lancashire Regiment, the 14th ( Kings own ) Hussars, I have no idea, but thats what he did, in 1846. Perhaps it was because they were stationed in exotic India at the time, and the Uniform was impressive.
Having joined the Regiment in India, he was soon in action, as the Second Sikh War broke out. He certainly took part in the famous ( but rather stupid ) charge at the Battle of Rumnuggar, in 1848, when his Commanding Officer, disobeying orders, led the 14th in a charge into the river. 14 men were killed, including the C.O, and 85 wounded, As for the story of him being the only survivor, well thats just an old soldiers tale. He took part in two further battles, Chillianwallah, 1849, and Gujerat, also 1849, for which he got two clasps to his campaign medal. The unit was sent to the Persian Gulf in 1856, and so missed the all the fun in the Crimea. Back to India again in 1857, to take part in the Sepoys Revolt, ( otherwise known as The Indian Mutiny ) in Bengal, central India. The 14th were deployed back to the United Kingdom in 1860, being quartered this time in Perthshire, Scotland. It was here, on the 17th February,1869, that he married Margaret Constable Burry, and the 14th were then sent to Dublin, Ireland, where John Stratford ended his active service career. Back home, he was offered the role of Sargeant Major of Instruction, at the Ist Himley Troop, of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, and took up the post in 1870. He lived at Battle Cottages, Wombourne, until the late 1880s, when they moved to 372, Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton. Sorry to disappoint again, but theres no record of him being a Tax Collector, why indeed would there be, as a Chelsea Pensioner, he didn't need to work. The couple never had any children, so when he died, in 1932, at the grand old age of 102, he left his estate, ( £717.8s.9d ) to the Reverend Thomas Smith Cave. The funeral was huge, attended by members of his old regiment, now called the 14/20th Hussars,( 1922 ) and the streets were lined with hundreds of his many admirers. A grand funeral, for a grand old man.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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