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Amended 14.5.2011. Minor edits 16.2.14, 13.4.14.

1340, Private Robert DUKE - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Bantry, Co. Cork, on the 6th of July 1833.

Educated at the Royal Hibernian School, Dublin, his father having served in the 34th Foot.


Enlisted at Dublin on the 16th of August 1847, to "serve in the Band."

Age: 14.

Height: 5' 5".

Trade: None.

Features: Fair complexion. Hazel eyes. Brown hair.

Attained the age of 15 years and on to "Man's Pay" on the 5th of July 1848.


1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith South, Midlothian.

Robert R Duke, Soldier, Private, 18, born Cork, Ireland.

Wounded in action at Balaclava on 25th October 1854 and taken prisoner of war. He rejoined the regiment on the 26th of October 1855.

In his Reminiscences of Crimean Campaigning and Russian Imprisonment, 1277 R. S. Farquharson, 4th Light Dragoons, a fellow "charger" and POW, recalls Duke:

"Week after week, while in Veronitz, our numbers were increased by new arrivals of prisoners from the Crimea, including some of our wounded comrades whom we had left at Simferopol.

Among these were Dryden of the 11th Hussars, who had no fewer than thirty-six wounds; Cooper and Duke of the 13th Light Dragoons, who had each been desperately wounded ...

All of these fellows seemed to have been well cared for in hospital, for their hurts were well and solidly healed."

From Private to Trumpeter: 22nd of August 1857.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Kilmainham on the 28th of June 1858:

"Labours under confirmed epilepsy - the result of wounds received at the battle of Balaclava, but more especially of shell wounds received at vortex of head. Number of wound, Fourteen. Wound from shell on head gun-shot wound to right wrist, two sword wounds on knee and ten lance wounds in body and arm."

Served 6 years 295 days (to count). In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years.

Conduct: "good".

In possession of one Good Conduct badge.

Aged 24 years 9 months on discharge.

He was granted a pension of 1/2d. per day.


Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava and Sebastopol.

Further medal information archived.


Life after service

He said he intended to live in Dublin after discharge. He was living in Belfast in 1875.

Death & burial

References & acknowledgements

Census information for 1851 kindly provided by Chris Poole.

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