Memorial plaque to Sgt John Smith VC of Ticknall

Jane Clayton, Maria Picken, Nigel Picken Chair of Ticknall Parish Council, Mrs Jill Tucker, William Tucker HM...

Jane Clayton, Maria Picken, Nigel Picken Chair of Ticknall Parish Council, Mrs Jill Tucker, William Tucker HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire. Cllr Stefan Green, flanked by members of the Derbyshire Army Cadet Force, Melbourne Detachment - Credit: Archant

A Service of Dedication and Unveiling of a memorial plaque in remembrance of Sgt John Smith VC of the Bengal Sappers & Miners took place at Ticknall Village Hall on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon in May

Music from the Melbourne Town Band welcomed guests, who included HM Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire Mr William Tucker, and the High Sheriff Mr David Coleman Cllr Pat Murray Chairman of South Derbyshire District Council, Lt Col J Coulson Bengal Sappers and Miners (Retired), Col Mike Reynolds RE (Retired) and Alison Wood the great, great, great niece of John Smith VC. The Revd Dr Mark Powell conducted a moving short service with an address from Cllr Nigel Picken, Chair of Ticknall Parish Council, before the Lord Lieutenant unveiled the plaque and the bells of nearby St George’s Church were tolled.

Alison has researched and written a fascinating booklet about the life of her brave ancestor who was born on Ashby Road in Ticknall in 1814. John Smith joined the Army in 1837, arriving in India the following year. Actions he took part in included the First Afghan War in 1841, the battle of Sobraon and the Punjab Campaign in 1849. With the return to peace in 1854 he became Overseer for the Meean Mir Division and settled with his wife and four daughters at the Meean Mir Cantonment, near Lahore. In 1856 he was posted to the Bengal Sappers depot at Roorkee as the discontent that would erupt in the Indian Mutiny was growing. Smith took part in the fighting from the start of the Mutiny and won his VC at the siege of Delhi as a member of a ‘forlorn hope’ party sent to blow open the Kashmir Gate so that troops could storm the city. John Smith’s VC was sent to his father in England and in 1918 passed to the widow of the only Smith son not to return from the First World War. The family lost touch and the whereabouts of this and John Smith’s other medals is now unknown – Alison would dearly like to see them.