South Africa Medal 1834-1853. Sergeant H. Peter, 90th Regiment Light contracting GVF


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Henry Peter was born around 1811 at St Merryn, Bodmin and enlisted on 16 May 1831, a clerk by trade. Joining the 90th as they arrived back from the Ionian Islands, Peter was initially posted to Scotland and Ireland, which at that time had a spate of cholera cases in the summer of 1832. Taking the role of Recruiting Sergeant, the unit then moved off to Ceylon in January 1836, on duty there until 1846. During this time he was promoted Colour-Sergeant and was Senior NCO for the detachment at Colombo when the remainder of his Regiment went to Kandy. After such a long time on the island the news came that they would be returned home, with the Maria Soames hired for the journey. During the transit they had the dreadful misfortune to encounter a double hurricane. These destroyed her sails and forced the pumps to be kept going constantly for all the water that was being taken on. On 28 March the seas and winds threw her onto her beam ends, rigging torn from the masts and the main top capsizing. All that was on the decks were washed away and no water or provisions were possible, those on the lower decks suffering from suffocation. Thirteen of those lower decks were found dead when the hatches were eventually opened. The ships rudder was useless but she finally made Mauritius on 18 April 1846. The 90th began arriving in South Africa from 25 April 1847 and served during the campaign (Medal), before returning to England in 18 April.

He was court martialled whilst the Regiment were in Ireland on 25 July 1851, on a trial for embezzlement in Cork. Found guilty he was reduced in rank and faced 84 days hard labour. His sentence completed, he was discharged on 26 May 1852 by the Medical Board at Kilmainham. The discharge was on account of the tropical climate he had served in and especially the poor vision suffered by many of his comrades who spent extended periods in Ceylon. Retired to Southwark, London, he died in January 1865 and was survived by his wife and children; sold together with a file of detailed research and rolls.