Valentine McMaster VC (1834 - 1872):
Valentine Munbee McMaster was born at Trichinopoly, India. His mother, whose maiden name was Munbee, was from County Londonderry, his father was from Belfast.
He qualified as a doctor and was commissioned as an Assistant Surgeon on 27 March, 1855, serving with the 78th Seaforth Highlanders (the “Ross-shire Buffs”). He first saw action in the Persian campaign, or Anglo-Persian war of 1856-1857, particularly the battles of Kooshab and Mohumrah. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 he took part in the battles at Cawnpore and Oude. On 25 September 1857 he was reported as having shown conspicuous bravery, looking after the wounded during the Battle of Lucknow, as related by his commanding officers: their force was under siege in the Residency building, but were able to fight their way out, during which McMaster took part in several sorties out of the building. The citation related that was awarded the VC for “the intrepidity with which he exposed himself to the fire of the enemy, in bringing in, and attending to, the wounded, on the 25th of September at Lucknow.”
He was also awarded the Indian Mutiny medal with two clasps and was entitled to claim an extra year’s service. He would remain in India for another decade, in various regiments including the famous 6th Inniskilling dragoons. He then moved to Belfast, and was serving with his old regiment, the 78th, stationed at North Queen Street Barracks, when he died in 1972 of a lung illness.
The Belfast News Letter reported that there was very large attendance both at the funeral service and to watch the cortege, which included his father. He was buried at the City Cemetery, Belfast, and there is a memorial to him in St Columb’s Cathedral, Derry.
|Born:||16 May 1834|
|Died:||22 January 1872|
www.britishmedals.us/people; Doherty & Truesdale: Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross, Dublin 2000.
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