Private Joseph Porch, 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons (The Cherrypickers)
Joseph Porch joined the army on the 29th of January 1805, not much is known about his life beforehand as his records have to my knowledge not survived. He is listed as having been a labourer in civilian life, having been born in Coombs (?), Somerset. I know he died in February 1835, in Meerut hospital in India (the area that is currently “Uttar Pradesh”), and left all his worldly possessions to a fellow soldier. He could not write, instead making his mark “X”. After five years service, he was to see active service with the 11th in Ireland, and then he went to Spain and Portugal in June 1811. They saw much action against the French;
“A dawn attack by the French in woods between Elvas and the Guadiana forced the 11th to retire on to what they thought were friendly Portugese lines. When they realised they were French, their commander Capt Lutyens ordered the charge. The shock tactic worked and they were able to drive their way through, but a second line of enemy troops was able to resist them. They lost 8 killed, 22 wounded and 77 taken prisoner.
The regiment had more success at El Bodon near Cuidad Rodrigo on 25th September. By this time they were commanded by Lt Col Cumming, a brave and efficient cavalry officer. A large force of French cavalry was threatening Allied infantry and artillery on the plain in front of the 11th and a squadron of the King’s German Legion who were well placed on high ground. Although they were vastly outnumbered the 11th and KGL charged at the enemy again and again, 20 times in all.”
They then saw service with the Duke of Wellington at Salamanca on the 22nd of July 1812.
They returned to France on the 2nd of April 1815, they were attacked heavily at Quatre Bras, on the 18th June 1815 the Battle of Waterloo commenced after a night of torrential rain, they made a valiant charge against the French and broke the French infantry square, and chased the French army as it retreated. Private Porch, was in Captain J.A.Schreiber’s Troop, he was wounded during the charge.
“Wellington entered Paris in triumph on 7th July escorted by the 11th and others. The regiment bivouacked on the Champs Elysees and became part of the army of occupation in France and Belgium. On 20th November they eventually arrived home after 3 years on the continent.”
In February 1819 the Regiment embarked for India, where they were stationed at Cawnpore and Meerut, and there was no serious fighting until 1825 when they took part in the siege of Bhurtpore:
“This was an apparently impregnable fortress garrisoned by 15,000 anti British Indians under the leadership of Doorjun Saul. The British, led by Sir Stapleton Cotton, now Lord Combermere, had 30,000 men. The enemy were aided by a British deserter, Bombadier Herbert who instructed the Indian artillery making them more effective.
After a five week siege, the mining endeavours of the engineers and bombardment by the artillery had weakened the defences enough for Combermere to order an attack. Bellingham Smith led 80 men and 2 Lieutenants into the fortress after an enormous explosion had created a breach big enough to storm through. The explosion killed many inside and some outside the walls. Enemy resistance did not last long and large groups fled on horseback pursued by the 11th Light Dragoons. They took many prisoners and captured the unfortunate Herbert who was hanged from the nearest tree. The regiment’s casualties were 2 men killed, one officer and 12 men wounded and 4 horses killed.”
Joseph Porch died in 1835 in Meerut Hospital, and is presumably buried in India where he fell, although I can find no trace of where.