Sergeant Henry Edward Gallagher


Henry Gallagher was an Irishman from Killenaule, Tipperary, born in March 1855. He was educated by the Catholic Church and when his parents died the Church demanded the family home as payment for Henry's education. They came to take over the house but it had mysteriously burned down. And Henry was on his way to join the 2nd/24th. He was stationed at Dover for a while and met and married Caroline Stanley. During the course of the marriage they had three sons and three daughters. Henry was rapidly promoted and was a sergeant by the time the 24th went to South Africa. Caroline stayed in Pinetown near Durban when he went off to fight the Zulus. He was the senior sergeant at Rorke's Drift, while Colour-Sergeant Bourne was the senior NCO. They were on the high ground of the Shiyane on the morning of the 22nd to watch for the approaching Zulu impi. When he saw them, Gallagher said to Bourne, "Here they come, thick as grass and black as thunder!"

During the siege he found that the Martini Henry rifle had serious flaws, one being the barrel which became red hot; he had to tear off his sleeve and wrap it around the barrel so that he could hold it. Also the black powder flashed back and 'tattooed' his face so that he bore the powder marks for the rest of his life. He carried on with his military service after the Zulu War, serving in Gibraltar, India, Burma, Aden and Egypt. He was promoted to Colour-Sergeant in 1881, and Sergeant-Major in 1889. The coloured photo shows him in the uniform of a Warrant Officer of the South Wales Borderers. He was discharged in May 1897 after 23 years service and immediately was offered the post of Barrack Warden at Coleworth Barracks, Hilsea. In 1910 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and in 1911 he retired to live in Drayton, Hampshire. He died of a heart condition on 17th Dec 1931 and was buried with semi-military honours at Christ's Church, Portsdown.


Regimental details | Soldiers at Rorke's Drift




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by Stephen Luscombe