I think I was meant to find this grave in a pretty graveyard at Ryde Cemetery on the Isle Of Wight. I was staying on the southern part of the island but got a bus north with the sole mission to locate the grave of a brave soldier who had his arm cut off with sword. As I was walking down the main path of the cemetery a man with an open amicable manner stopped me and saved me walking up and down the down grass verges looking for the grave. With a friendly smile he offered his hand. I shook it and said I was looking for Sam Brown and did he know him? You bet he did. He also knew of other recipient of the VC buried there along with other notable people. It was as though he was there waiting to help any geek who enjoys looking for graves.
He led me to the grave of Sir Sam Browne whose final resting place is a long way from Barrackpore in India where he was born. His parents were based there while his brainy dad worked as an eminent surgeon.
Sam joined the 46th Bengal Native Infantry and fought in various parts of India. Aged only 25 he was made a lieutenant and put together his own cavalry which he commanded for the next five years. After seeing much fighting he was made a captain at 33.
On 31st August 1858 he was fighting in Pradesh, India. Very early in the morning his troops were being shot at. He spotted the main killer: a large gun discharging a curtain of bullets. With another man he stormed the position without concern for their lives and shot the gunners, preventing them from re-loading. A physical fight ensued and Sam received a cut from a sword on his knee and another cut which cut off his left arm - not part of it but all of it from the shoulder. He still won the fight with one arm missing while bleeding to death.
Afterwards he found he could not use his left hand to pull out his sword and began wearing a belt with an extra strap. This held his sword in just the right place. The “Sam Brown Belt” became famous and is now favoured by army and police officers. The original belt is now in the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
He was no wimp and didn’t leave the army with a bottle of painkillers. Twenty years later was fighting in the Second Anglo-Afghanistan War. He mustered 16,000 troops and 48 guns to the Khyber Pass and used their combined firepower to take over the fortress of Ali Masjid. They could now proceed though the pass and capture Jalalabad. For this Sam was promoted to general and even given a knighthood
He retired from the army at 74 and moved to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. The lazier life mustn’t have suited him as he died within two years. Even though there’s a grave here he was cremated. I assume his ashes are buried here alongside his wife.
The nearby grave looked a little like a dog kennel (see photo.)
Touching the VC…
There was an unusual dog kennel grave next door but one…
At the building where I luckily bumped into John the sexton who knew the cemetery well.
The Sam Browne Belt…