Friday, June 1, 2012

McGarry, Jacob

buried Church of England Cemetery, Kaiapoi



A paragraph was reprinted in "The Press" yesterday, giving a new explanation assigned by a witness of the event, of the charge of the gallant Light Brigade in the Crimean war. The explanation was that Captain Nolan was shot by an ambush of Russians, and as he threw up his arms, with the sword in his right arm, the action formed the signal to Lord Cardigan to order the fatal charge.

In regard to this matter, one of our reporters has interviewed Corporal Jacob McGarry, of Kaiapoi, who was a member of the Royal Artillery Battery W, under Captain G. R. Barker, in action before Balaclava. The artillery had its position in front of three redoubts, which, were manned by Turks.

Corporal McGarry was with the guns near No. 2 redoubt. The Turks who were to support the guns however, abandoned their position directly the Russians began to advance up the hill. The Royal Horse Artillery had held their own till there was not another round left, and they retired under the fire of nine 18-pounders which the Russians had captured.

The guns had no British supports save the 93rd Highlanders, and these were too far away to be of service. There was a charge of the heavy cavalry against the Russians, and as it disappeared Corporal McGarry saw the Light Brigade move, but was not near enough, to hear the orders. The staff under Lord Raglan, whose chief was Captain Airey, with Captain Nolan as his aide-de-camp, were an a terrace overlooking Balaclava plain, and these he saw with distinctness. The heavy cavalry charge to re-take the guns he also saw plainly by the aid of glasses lent him by the captain of his company, who was short-sighted, and who asked him to give him information of tho positions.

Captain Nolan, was known as an officer greedy for fighting, and one of the best horsemen in the British army. As to his death, Corporal McGarry believed it did not come from any ambush, but from part of a shell. It was possible that Captain Nolan threw up his sword arm and the weapon. The smoke was too thick for Corporal McGarry to see exactly what happened. Captain Nolan was carrying the order from Lord Raglan to Lord Cardigan to re-take the guns which had been captured earlier in the day from the Royal Artillery. It is said that Colonel Airey suggested, when Lord Raglan gave the order, that it had better be put in writing, and Captain Nolan was said to have written it.

Corporal McGarry thinks that Colonel Airey possibly thought it was a mistake, and therefore should be recorded. If Captain Nolan had not been killed the public might have known more about this. However, Captain Nolan went with the order.

There was always a doubt on this point, but Corporal McGarry is firmly of opinion that Lord Cardigan could not see Captain Nolan's sword for the cannon smoke. As to the charge, the Royal Horse Artillery W Battery, to which Corporal McGarry was attached, were within 25 chains of the gallant six hundred as they rode fearlessly "into the valley of death."

A troop of the Artillery were to have accompanied the cavalry, but were ordered to wheel and cover the light Brigade. They saw the famous six hundred disappear altogether into the Russian ranks. Soon after they saw a Hussar, who had lost his busby, and had been sword slashed, ride out at a gallop, cutting right and left, imagining he was still in the fight, the blood pouring into his eyes as he came into the open.

Corporal McGarry witnessed the disgraceful act of the Russian gunners, in firing right into the mass of blended friends and foes, not caring if they slaughtered their own men, so long as they could kill the British soldiers.

The survivors of the charge came out in two and threes, and then singly, and sometimes a riderless horse emerged, or a steed with its rider hanging by his heels in the stirrups.

Other men came out wounded and grasping the necks of their horses. There was not a British officer or man who witnessed their return, who, if the order had been given, would have refused to follow and share the fate of the Light Brigade, so maddened were all the troops with the sight.

It may be added that a veteran of the C Company, under Captain Maude, some months since gave a statement to a reporter which coincides in its main points with that of Corporal McGarry.
Press, Volume LXII, Issue 12371, 9 December 1905, Page 6

Corporal Jacob McGarry, Royal Artillery, Battery W, holder of the Crimean, Turkish, and China medals, with clasps, for engagements from 1854 to 1864, died at Kaiapoi on Friday night, in his 78th year.

He received one slight wound from a shot in the leg at Balaclava, where he was one of the witnesses of the gallant charge of the Light Brigade. McGarry joined the colours with the Royal Artillery at Belfast in 1852, and from Woolwich Barracks was transferred, in anticipation of the the Russian war, to Malta, under Colonel Yelverton, and thence to Varna, in Turkey, in 1854.

He was under fire at the Alma, Balaclava, and siege of Sebastapol. It was at the Balaclava engagements he received promotion to corporal's rank, and on termination of the war gained the Sardinian medal for valour in the field, to which was attached four clasps.

At the time of Lord Kitchener's visit, in February, 1910, the veteran Artillery corporal attracted his attention. "What is this medal?", said Lord Kitchener, pointing to a plain-looking silver medal attached to a blue ribbon. "That is the Sardianian medal for valour, sir," was Corporal McGarry's answer. "That must be rather rare. How and where did you get it?" queried Lord Kitchener. "I got it at Balaclava, sir, for spiking some guns in a battery the Russians were, just breaking into," was the reply. "You must let me shake hands with you," said "K. of K.," and did so, and before leaving wished Mr, McGarry good health and a long life.

Corporal McGarry, on leaving the service, retired on his small. pension, and has resided at Kaiapoi for some years. He leaves a widow and family of four sons and five daughters, with several grand-children, to lament his death.

The military officers have made arrangements to accord Corporal Mc Garry's remains a military funeral tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon.
Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 14424, 3 August 1912, Page 12

The remains of the late Corporal Jacob McGarry, Royal Artillery, a Crimean veteran, were accorded a military funeral yesterday. The coffin, on which was deceased's old uniform and medals, was draped with the Union Jack, and was borne on an open hearse, with members of the Kaiapoi Rifles acting as bearers.

The cortege was preceded by the Town Band, which played the""Dead March" in Saul. The firing party consisted of old volanteers and Territorials. The Rev. J. Holland officiated at the graveside after which the Last Post was sounded by the buglers.
Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 14425, 5 August 1912, Page 5

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