John Bambrick (b1832)

Son of John Bambrick (b1791) and Harriet Ann Reddan Bambrick (nee Villars) , brother of Robert Bambrick (1827) and Valentine Bambrick (1837)

Charge of the Light Brigade.

11 Mar 1876 - THE CHARGE OF THE SIX HUNDRED. - Trove

The following graphic account of the
celebrated charge by the Light Brigade
at the battle of Balaclava has been fur-
nished to the Narracoorte Herald by Mr.
John Bambrick, one of the fortunate few
who survived that ever-to-be-remembered
test of British valour. As Mr. Bambrick
is a resident of the town mentioned in this
province, and is well known throughout
the district, his version will no doubt be
read with interest :
The 25th day of October, 1854- a day
full of sad remembrances- dawned cold
and hazy. We turned out as usual at break
of day, and were standing at our horses'
heads, watching our outlying pickets,
(furnished from the 17th Lancers), whom
we could just discern through the heavy
mist, anxiously waiting signals from
them whether the enemy were on the
move or not. Just as the sun tipped the
heights of the Tchernaya we saw bur
pickets forming the figure eight at a
canter, which indicated the advance of
the combined forces of the Russians
infantry, cavixlry, and artillery. Lord
Cardigan, with his staff, came galloping'
across the plain towards us, and gave
the order ' Light Brigade will advance ! '
We obeyed, moving towards the Turkish
redoubts, where we saw the poor "Bono
Johnnies" (as we had nicknamed the
Turks), running away as hard as pos-
sible, the shot and shell at this time
becoming rather unpleasant for their
faint hearts. We were here ordered to
take ground to the left in column of
troops, and shortly after the 11th Hus
sars (to which I belonged) were detached
to cover the guns of the 1st Troop Horse
Artillery, Capt. Maude commanding. I
may just mention here as a rather
strange incident that Captain Maude,
having ordered the stretcher party to tho
guns, was carrying the stretcher before
him on his saddle when he was wounded
in the leg, and was the first to be carried
off the field upon it.
It was at this time we saw the Russian
cavalry advancing upon Sir Colin Camp-
bell's position, under a murderous fire
from the marine heights above Balaclava,
which looked like one sheet of fire. On
coming up they were met by the High
land division, under Sir Colin, in rank
entire, with a volley that emptied many a
Russian saddle. 'Twas then we gave a
shout ,of delight when we saw the enemy
actually reel and turn tail. Before the
Russians had time to recover from the
panic caused by the Highland reception,
down came the Heavy Brigade (composed
of the Scots Greys, Inneskillens, 4th
Royal Irish, 5th Dragoon Guards, and
1st Royal Dragoons), led on by as noble
a soldier as ever drew blade from scab
bard, General Scarlett, and, thundering
across the plain on the heels of the Rus-
sian cavalry, actually mowed them down.
We at this time were anxiously awaiting
our turn, and it came. After the Heavy
Brigade had driven the enemy back to
their own position we were ordered to
advance to the mouth of the valley, where
we dismounted and looked to our horses'
girths and appointments. We had not
been long dismounted, when we saw Cap-
tain Nolan, one of Lord Raglan's staff,
galloping down to the Earl of Lucan.
Immediately afterwards an aide-de-camp
was dispatched from Lucan's staff to Lord
Cardigan. What orders were then given
is a mystery to me ; however, we were
there to obey, and that was enough for
us, although it was evident there was a
blunder in the matter. His Lordship
then came back, and gave the orders,
'Light Brigade, stand to your horses!'
'Prepare to mount !' ' Mount!' To the
best of my remembrance the 8th Hussars
were on the right of the line, the 13th
next, the 17th next, the 11th Hussars,
and the 4th Light Dragoons. We were
ordered to advance in echelon of regi
ments from the right. Before us was a
battery of Russian artillery, another on
the right of us, and another on the left,
with some squares of infantry to our
right front, the guns being supported by
masses of cavalry. The battery on our
left was silenced by the -Chasseura
d'Afrique. After cutting our way through
the batteries, squares of infantry, and
squadrons of cavalry, the command was
still 'On, on, forward, boys!' till we
reached the Trakta (?) bridge at the
bottom of the valley. Our horses were by
this time pretty well blown, and it was
there we noticed how fearfully thin our
ranks had become. Colonel Douglas, fully
aware of the awful position we were in,
exclaimed, 'For God's sake, boys, what
is to be done ?' or words to that effect,
and I with others answered, ' The 17th
Lancers are deployed in line in our rear,
Sir.' He then called out, 'Threes about,
and rally on the 17th Lancers.' We did
so, but on reaching them, found to our
dismay, they were the Polish Lancers,
who came from the carry to the engage
lance, giving vent to a wild yell of de
light as they bore down upon us. We
cut our way through them, when we were
confronted by a second line. There a
few of us, with Colonel Douglas, of the
11th Hussars, at our head, skirted their
right flank.' Shortly after having done so
a shell, fired from the Russian battery on
the left (which was on our right going
down) lodged in my (B6) mare's side
and exploded, tearing her completely open.
Whilst trying to extricate myself, her
whole weight being on my left leg, I was
attacked by a Russian officer. He made
a cut at me with his sword, which I
guarded, having fortunately retained hold
of my blade, at the same moment grasp
ing his reins with my left hand, which
caused his stallion to throw up his head,
thus dragging me from under my own.
On regaining my feet, still retaining hold
of his horse, he made a cut (seven) at my
head, which guarding I delivered first
point, which took effect under his waist
belt. He at once quitted hold of his
sword, and seemed to be fumbling in his
holster for his pistol. While in the act of
doing so I ran him through about the
same place, the blood spurting over me as
I drew my blade, which I followed up
with a well-delivered blow on the face,
when he fell to the earth dead. On trying
to mount the charger thus gained the
saddle slipped round with me, and I had
gone some considerable distance before I
became properly seated and found that I
had received two wounds- in my late con
flict, one just below the knee and the
other in my arm, the Russian having
given me a severe wound in the muscle of
my right arm, but in the excitement I had
felt neither at the time.
On getting out, the first faces I met
were, to my delight, those of the 4th
Regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique of
France, who were thrown out in a line
of skirmishers to cover our retreat after
having silenced the battery on the left.
The first words that greeted me  for I
was alone now  were 'Bon charge!'
(grand charge), ' Vive la Reine I' (Long
live the Queen), and such exclamations as
these. I called out as well as my state
would allow for in addition to loss of
blood, be it known we were on the allow
ance of a handful of biscuit per diem
'Ou ert la Cavallerie Legere V (where is
the Light Brigade I)  when they answered
' Morte ! morte !' (dead, dead.) After
going through their line I came on to
the 47th Regiment of British Infantry
in skirmishing order. Dismounting, I
requested a drink of water, which was
immediately proffered me by a son of the
Emerald Isle, which he poured into Ms
pannican from his calabash, with this
characteristic remark,. ' By the piper of
war I will, my boy, for yes hiv' irned it
to-day.'' I was about drinking, when the
doctor of the regiment stopped me and
mixed some brandy with it, and also gave
me a biscuit. I then made enquiries as
to where the Light Brigade were. They
directed me. I found them in a group
some lying down, others standing to their
horses' heads. In their centre were
Brigade-General Lord Cardigan, Colonel
Douglas, Sir Roger Palmer, and other
officers. As I rode up they greeted me
with a cheer, for many of my comrades,
some of whom saw my horse shot under
me, thought I was lying with the lost
When in calmer moments I had time
to reflect on the host of narrow escapes
which I, with all the survivors, expe-
rienced, it seems little short of a miracle
that any of us ever came out. The
carnage was something terrible, and
although 22 years have now nearly elapsed
since that fearful day, what I saw on
that 25th of October still remains a vivid
picture, and must ever remain such to
the end of my days. I remember well
the comrades on my right and left hand
falling, while the one immediately behind
me lived through it, although he, like
myself, had those on each side of him
stricken down.
But here I must cry halt, for were I
to write all I remember in connection
with the charge it would make a book of
I afterwards got permission from my
commanding officer to sell the horse (a
chesnut stallion), as a reward, I suppose,
for the way in which I had gained posses
sion. Sir Roger Palmer bought him, who
afterwards exchanged to the 2nd Life
Guards, on our return to England, taking
the horse with him. The last time I saw
my Russian prize was on Ascot race-
course, with the ugly scar over his eye
that I gave him, though meant for his
rider, in the tussle already referred to.
He was then the off-leader of Sir Roger's
four-in-hand drag. I was furthermore
rewarded, through the recommendation of
my commanding officer, Colonel Douglas,
with the Cross of the Legion of Honor,
as Chevalier or Knight of the same
The following paragraph, which we
extract from an account of the charge in
Once a Week, will prove interesting in
connection with the above :"On the
same night I buried their arms, which had
been shot off. One of the men named
John Bambrick had his horse shot from
under him. A Russian officer in riding past
at the time was dismounted, when Bam-
brick rushed after the horse, caught it,
and mounting it took it to Balaclava. '


Extract from pg 134, "Forgotten Heroes: The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Roy Dutton

John Bambrick died in 1893. Here is a story about him, published in 1892.

Quiz and the Lantern (Adelaide, SA : 1890 - 1900)  Fri 8 Jul 1892  Page 7  CRACRED CHESNUTS
Cracked Chesnuts
Some years ago one of the Six Hundred named
Bambrick occupied the position of ostler at the
Narracoorte Hotel. He had just come off a bad
tear, and by way of weaning himself decided to
invest in some locally made cider. Narracoorte
was never captivating. Bambrick sampled the
stuff, and was about to ruin the cider-maker's con
stitution for ever when a happy idea struck him,
and he carted off two gallons of the cider.
Having deposited it safely in his small but neat
room (he had all the good order of a soldier), he
went out and invited to his room all the people he
didn't like and placed the cider before them.
None of them died, but they got near enough to
doing so to fully satisfy Bambrick, and he was
hard to please in a little matter of that sort.

Source: Quiz and the Lantern (Adelaide, SA : 1890 - 1900) Fri 8 Jul 1892 Page 7 CRACKED CHESNUTS - trove

(An ostler is "a man employed to look after the horses of people staying at an inn"... I imagine he would've been more than capable of this!)

John Thomas Bambrick
BIRTH 6 Feb 1832 India
DEATH 17 Oct 1893 (aged 61)
Bourke, Bourke Shire, New South Wales, Australia
BURIAL Bourke Cemetery
Bourke, Bourke Shire, New South Wales, Australia
PLOT Unknown

Find a grave memorial 184116862/john-thomas-bambrick

(I don't believe he married or fathered any children.)

There are newspaper advertisements in Australia showing that after he published his story in the paper, his older brother Robert, in south Australia, tried to get in touch with him. I don't know if they ever did meet up.

See also


This article is a stub: the tiny seed of a mighty article, not yet written.