Sergeant Patrick Mullane VC

Patrick Mullane was born in India, at Ahmednuggar, in October 1858. He began his service in India and rose to the rank of sergeant. He served in E Battery, B Brigade which was part of Brigadier-General Burrows’ column that set out from Kandahar to confront the huge army of tribesmen under Ayub Khan in July 1880. Sergeant Mullane distinguished himself at the Battle of Maiwand on 27 July 1880. As the battery were retreating, Driver Pickwell was severely wounded and lying on the ground with the advancing enemy only 15 yards away. Mullane ran back and brought Pickwell to the limber. It is not clear if the driver was already dead or died soon after. During the retreat to Kandahar in which men were going mad with thirst Mullane entered one of the dangerously hostile villages and fetched water.

Patrick Mullane was gazetted for the VC on 16 May 1881, the same day as Gunner Collis. In his letter written on 9 Sep 1880, Captain Slade wrote that he recommended ‘Serjeant Mellane' [sic] for the VC but did not have enough evidence. Obviously, evidence came to light and Mullane was presented with his medal at Poona Racecourse by Lord Roberts on 11 July 1881. He later gained the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major and on retirement he moved to London. He died on 20 November 1919 at his home, 31 Coronation Road, Plaistow and buried in an unmarked grave in St Patrick’s RC Cemetery, Leytonstone. A headstone has since been erected stating that he is buried nearby.

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by Stephen Luscombe