William Hamilton was a native of Co Kilkenny Ireland. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in 1879. He won the award, at the age of 22, for bravery shown whilst serving with the Indian Army in Afghanistan. The Victoria Cross is awarded for ‘most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy’. The Victoria Cross has been awarded to 168 soldiers from Ireland, six of whom were born in Kilkenny.
Walter Richard Pollock Hamilton was born in Inistioge, County Kilkenny in 1856. On April 2nd 1879 he was serving as a lieutenant in the Staff Corps and Corps of Guides of the Indian Army during the Second Afghan War. He was leading the Cavalry against very superior numbers at Futtehabad when the following event took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
‘…at a critical moment when his Commanding Officer (Major Wigram Battye) fell, Lieutenant Hamilton, then the only Officer left with the Regiment, assumed command and cheered on his men to avenge Major Battye’s death. In this charge Lieutenant Hamilton, seeing Sowar Dowlut Ram down, and attacked by three of the enemy, whilst entangled with his horse (which had been killed) rushed to the rescue, and followed by a few of his men cut down all three and saved the life of Sowar Dowlut Ram’.
Lieutenant Hamilton continued to serve in Afghanistan. He was killed during the storming of the British embassy in Kabul on September 3rd 1879. There are memorials to Lieutenant Hamilton in Inistioge Church, Kilkenny, Horse Show Hall, Ballsbridge, Dublin and at Christ Church, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. A statue to him which was located at the National Museum in Dublin is now on display at the national Army Museum in London.
William Hamilton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry during an engagement in Afghanistan, was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in the year 1856 On This Day.