The Royal Irish Regiment

Private John Barry VC

On 7th/8th Jan 1901, on Monument Hill, Belfast, South Africa, during a night attack, Private Barry, although wounded and threatened by the enemy, smashed the breach of the Maxim Gun, thus rendering it useless to its captors. While doing this he was shot dead by the enemy who surrounded him.

John Barry was from Kilkenny, born on 1st Feb 1873. He had served with the 2nd Battalion on the Northwest Frontier of India. In his report on the battle of Monument Hill General Smith-Dorrien stated that Barry had been killed in the act of disabling the Maxim gun 'otherwise I would have recommended him for a VC'. At that time the medal was not awarded to heroes who had died while carrying out their act of bravery but the authorities had a change of heart and decided that he should be awarded the medal posthumously. His widow received it on his behalf. The date of award in the London Gazette was 8th Aug 1902. His grave is to be found in Belfast cemetery, South Africa.

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by Stephen Luscombe