Wrexham born Balaclava Ned’s history online

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

ONE of Wrexham's most colourful historical figures has galloped out of the past and on to the internet.

Thousands of British Army Service Records have now been published online for the first time by family history website www.findmypast.co.uk in association with the National Archives.

And among the many thousands now lining up for inspection is Edwin Hughes, famous for being the last survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

The disastrous charge, immortalised in a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson, was made by the British cavalry against Russian forces in 1854 during the Crimean War’s Battle of Balaclava.

The online records show Troop Sergeant Major Hughes, known as Balaclava Ned, was a shoemaker before and after he joined the 13th Light Dragoons – later known as 13th Hussars and part of the Light Brigade – as 1506 Private Hughes.

He had been born in Wrexham on December 12, 1830, and died in Blackpool on May 14, 1927, aged 96.

In 1854 he went to fight in the Crimean War for two years in Russia and was also based in Turkey for two years 11 months.

He was awarded the British Crimea Medal, the Turkish Crimea Medal, as well as the Silver Medal for long service and good conduct.

The Chelsea Pensioner Service Records also list his progression through the army.

In 1858 Hughes was promoted to corporal, in 1863 to sergeant, and in 1871 to troop sergeant major.

On November 24, 1873 he was discharged from the army at Colchester Garrison at his own request having completed 21 years and 24 days service.

His discharge papers describe him as being 42 11/12ths years of age, 5ft 9ins tall, of fresh complexion with sandy hair and hazel eyes.

The day after leaving the army, Hughes enlisted in the Worcestershire Yeomanry, a mounted volunteer unit, staying as sergeant-instructor until January 5,1886. He was discharged on account of “old age”.

Debra Chatfield of findmypast.co.uk said: “Finding Edwin within the records is fascinating, as we get to imagine him on a more personal level, adding to the legends that already surround him.

“Collections like the censuses and the British Army service records can enable everyone researching their family tree to add the same level of personal details to their own ancestors – truly bringing to life their family history.”

The collection currently comprises more than four million full colour images of the service records of soldiers in the British Army in receipt of a pension administered by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and who were discharged between the dates 1760 and 1900.

Each individual soldier’s record consists of a minimum of four pages and can be up to 20.

Edwin Hughes has eight pages of records charting his time with the military in great detail.

Each page has been filmed by findmypast.co.uk’s partner, FamilySearch, in a two-year project.

See full story in the Leader

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