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Samuel Parkes – Charge of the Light Brigade

Samuel Parkes VC

Samuel Parkes, of Wigginton near Tamworth, was a hero who won the Victoria Cross in the Charge of The Light Brigade in 1854. He was only the second man to receive this honour and he was presented the medal in person by Queen Victoria in 1855.

The Victoria Cross is the highest possible accolade for bravery on the field of conflict, and only 1,357 Victoria Cross medals have ever been awarded. The entry from the London Gazette of 24th February, 1857 announcing the award read:-

“Samuel Parkes, No. 635, Private, 4th Light Dragoons in the charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade at Balaclava, Trumpet – Major Crawford’s horse fell, and dismounted him, and he lost his sword; he was attacked by two Cossacks, when Private Samuel Parkes (whose horse had been shot), saved his life by placing himself between them and the Trumpet – Major, and drove them away by his sword. In attempting to follow the Light Cavalry Brigade in the retreat, they were attacked by six Russians, whom Parkes kept at bay, and retired slowly, fighting and defending the Trumpet – Major for some time, until deprived of his sword by a shot.”

When Samuel Parkes died, in 1864, he was buried in an unmarked grave. No one knew where he was buried, he was lost. In 1999, after a lifetime’s search, his great-great-great nephew discovered his final resting place in Brompton, London and a memorial stone was placed on the spot. In 2005, on the 150th anniversary of The Charge of The Light Brigade, he was honoured by a plaque in St Editha’s Church in Tamworth, where he was christened.

In 2011, a magnificent 12 foot high obelisk in Wigginton was erected, just yards from his actual birthplace. On September 14th 2011, H.R.H. The Countess of Wessex attended the dedication of this wonderful monument and laid a wreath This was the final and most glorious memorial to Samuel Parkes at his place of birth—Wigginton.