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Sergeant     Frederick Thomas Peake,

 

13th Light Dragoons

A Sheppey man

A survivor of The Charge of the Light Brigade. October 25th 1854.

Born November 17th

Died 18th December 1906 aged 77  The  last survivor of his battle regiment .

Grave Location Halfway Cemetary site 83FF

 

Lord Cardigan formed his ten squadrons in two lines numbering from the right the 13th Light Dragoons , the 17th Lancers, and the 11th Hussars, in the second , the 8th Hussars and the 4th Light Dragoons .

Lord Lucan did not approve of this arrangement and drawing the 11th Hussars from the first line he placed them in the left rear of the 17th Lancers .Thus the Brigade formed three lines. The whole did not amount to many more than 600.

The signal was given and into the valley of Death rode the 600 .

The Brigade went over the brow of the hill at a trot .  At once they came under the fire of the guns on the Fedonkine heights .  On went the Brigade .    In the race of Death they had to run the course which was more than a mile long .After the heroic charge Lord Cardigan rode up to the front and said “ Men, this is a great blunder ; but it is no fault of mine “  And the men cheered and replied “ Never mind my Lord we are ready to go back again “

Of the 670 who rode into the Valley of Death there were left only 195 mounted men , and all this havoc was wrought within the short period of 20 minutes

 

It was as a mere boy that Mr. Peake first became imbued with the desire to join the Army , he was then about 18 years of age .

He was the possessor of two medals .one in connection with the Crimea the other being with three bars, viz. Alma , Sebastopol , and Balaclava.

He left two sons and two daughters.

He was buried with full Military Honours , the gun carriage drawn by four fine animals , the firing party consisted of 20 strong formed up in single file on either side of his house and presently the bearers came forth carrying their sad burden  shoulder high to the gun carriage .The band of the Royal Navy Gunnery School Sheerness was now playing The Dead March by Saul and the sympathetic beat  of the muffled drums combined with the softened notes of the cornets at once touched one’s emotions .In most cases all house blinds were drawn on the route . The final incident in connection with the funeral  was a touching one … It consisted  of the firing of three volleys over the grave by the firing party and between each  volley two buglers played “ The Last Post “ and that well known hymn “Now the labourers task is o’er “

 

Many years ago whilst compiling my Family Tree , part of the process was to search all hard copies of the old Sheerness Times/Guardian kept in the Sheerness Library and extract all references to “ PENNEY and RELATIONS        I had just started and  thought that I would also extract anything else that may be of use to Family Historians having had a lot of help from other people..

For example  I noticed a yearly meeting of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade and of course the number  attending each year was less and less  but I thought this may be of interest to some one some day so I copied these also.

For example  , the matinee performance of The Alhambra (??) London in October 1910 was preceded by the Annual  Balaclava  Reunion  and this  was attended by some eleven survivors .

 In 1979 I wrote to Francis K Horton who was compiling a list of the Survivors of the Charge and he was delighted to receive my letter as the information that he had was   F T Peake was buried  at Thornton Heath in Surrey. But he could never find the grave. This is because he was taken ill and died at his sons house in Thornton Heath but his body was taken to Sheerness   for burial.

He lived at 37 Alma Road and his 75th birthday was November 17th 1907

I also located for Francis  the memorial to  Lewis Edward Nolan another survivor ,who was the first to be killed at the head of the Brigade charge ,  this is  in  what was The Holy Trinity Church  Maidstone , and is now a general meeting place, near the multi storey car park.

There is also a memorial  to William Harris of the 8th Hussars in the churchyard of Harrietsham , he survived the Charge and four months later died of cholera at Sailasi in   Turkey.

Many survivors graves have  also turned up in Ireland and many other parts of theWorld.

As Francis was working on his book  he asked me to pin point the exact location of the grave  so I  went to the Halfway Cemetary and in the potting shed , among all the flower pots plants and dirt  ,in one of the drawers  of the bench were the 4 books containing all the burials from 1850 to 1950. ( I photocopied these four books and put them on my web page   http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~penney/  should  these books be destroyed or lost )

 I located F.T.Peakes burial site which was a mass of ivy , these  I cleared away  and there was a broken column on the floor  , crossed swords and a shako , (the  hat.) I spent all day cleaning the memorial  of ivy and years of accumulated lichen and replacing the broken column ,  I then took photographs which were sent on to Francis  together with the detailed directions on how to reach  the grave  from the Cemetary entrance  He was very pleased and he said they would be in his book , a private  edition called “ One  Hussar “ on the Survivors of the Charge

By 1979 he had located  190 headstones and  had approximately another 200 to find with good leads on 80 to 100 of these. He also corresponded with 40 separate descendants of survivors

In 1892 I wrote to Francis because  a member of the Kent Family History Society owned a  diary of a soldier  written up to   the night before  the “  Charge “.  And he was allowed access to it   , he was delighted.

Francis Horton has given his lecture on The Survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade to York, Hollingham, Norwich, Chelmsford, Bristol and Avon    Family History Societies , the  FH Federation at Birmingham, the Guild of One Name Studies  etc etc,            In 1981 he was invited to be the Chairman of Stourbridge Family History Society.

He always starts his talks  by blowing the  “Charge “ on the bugle that was actually used on that fateful day. Very eerie .  In the reading room of the National Army Museum  they have seven photographs of Sergt. F.T.Peake   one portrait, three of his funeral ,  one of his memorial, and two groups at reunions.

He treasured the uniform which he wore in the Famous Charge  the sleeve of which was perforated by the bullet which wounded his arm and would wear it at Benevolent Concerts in aid of charitable events when he would recite Tennyson poem  ” Into the Valley of Death “

 

 

In January 1907 The Town held a meeting to suggest a suitable public Memorial to him as he had resided in Sheerness for a very considerable  portion of his life .The Rev. Noblet said that Mr. Peake was always straight forward, upright and most civil and obliging as a civilian.. .Mr. Peake was willing to do all he could to  help anyone in distress . He had dared to die and never liked to speak about himself and the Charge of the Light Brigade. When one spoke to Mr. Peake about the battle he quietly proceeded to talk on another subject. Mr.W J Penney suggested that a committee should be appointed  to prepare a scheme to lay before another meeting .This committee could prepare an estimate as to the probable cost of a Memorial. This was agreed upon and the memorial was later erected over his grave.

 

A headstone of such a soldier should never be allowed to become hidden again .It should be proudly shown and maintained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOME  CRIMEAN VETERANS FROM SHEPPEY

 

J.S  OUTHERN   J TROTTER   W.WALSH   G.BLACKMORE
 J.WHITING  F.GRIFFITHS.
 J.BENTLEY  BOWDER    J.BROTHERS   J.EASTCOTT   G.LANCASTER  R.LEDDEN
 E.LEDGER   G.PHILPOTT 

 

VARIOUS OTHER  VETERANS FROM SHEPPEY
 
M.BLACKMORE    Battle of  BALACLAVA
LAWTON         Battle of  WATERLOO
LEONARD        Battle of  TRAFALGAR
H.MATTHEWS     LUCKNOW
J.MOORE        INDIAN MUTINY
POVER          DR.LIVINGSTONE’s EXPEDITION
H.STRONG       POLAR EXPEDITION
I.STUBBERFIELD ARTIC EXPLORER