Saturday, 17 May 2003

A ceremony took place on Saturday, 17th May 2003, at Dundee's Eastern Necropolis, to place two suitably inscribed benches commemorating Private Thomas Beach VC and Private Peter Grant VC, both of whom were buried in Poor Ground, their exact burial location being unknown owing to the many areas of mass graves within the cemetery.

The benches were dedicated by the City of Dundee branch of the Royal British Legion of Scotland who launched a fundraising campaign to erect a permanent memorial to the two men. After raising the necessary funds the branch decided to purchase two benches bearing the names of Thomas Beach and Peter Grant and place them on the edge of the Poor Ground overlooking the River Tay.

Over one hundred people attended the ceremony, including 23 standards from the Angus and Perthshire area council of the Royal British Legion Scotland. Other ex-service associations and cadet groups turned out to pay their respects, as did representatives from the Gordon Highlanders, the successor to Beach's regiment, the 92nd Foot; and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, which incorporated Grant's regiment, the 93rd.

Saturday's ceremony was conducted by Pastor David Taylor, chaplain to the City of Dunee branch of the RBL Scotland who said "the memorial was a fitting tribute to their bravery". Also attending the service was the Deputy Lord Provost Charles Farquhar, representing the Lord Provost John Letford who boosted the campaign to honour the VC heroes by presenting a cheque to the Legion for 500.


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 24 February 1857 ]. Inkermann, Crimea, Private Thomas Beach, 92nd Foot ( Gordon Highlanders ) att'd 55th Regiment ( The Border Regiment ).

"For conspicuous gallantry at the Battle of Inkermann, 5th November 1854, when on piquet, attacking several Russians who were plundering Lieutenant-Colonel Carpenter, 41st Regiment, who was lying wounded on the ground. Beach killed two of the Russians and protected Lt-Colonel Carpenter until the arrival of some men of the 41st."

Thomas Beach was invested with his Victoria Cross by Lieutenant General Sir J. Fergusson, GOC Gibraltar in July 1857.

Following the end of the Crimean War Thomas Beach returned to the 92nd Foot ( Gordon Highlanders ) left the army in 1863 and returned to Dundee. He died on 24 August 1864, aged 40, in the Royal Infirmary, Dundee, from what is thought severe alcoholism. Beach's Victoria Cross was purchased on behalf of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupendra Singh, in the 1920s and is one of the five VCs included in the Sheesh Mahal Collection, housed in Patiala, Punjab, India.

The medal entitlement of Private Thomas Beach - 92nd Regiment ( Gordon Highlanders )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Crimea Medal ( 1854-56 )
    • 3 clasps:
    • "Alma" - "Inkermann" - "Sebastopol"
  • Turkish Crimea Medal ( 1855-56 )


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 24 December 1858 ]. Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, India, Private Peter Grant, 93rd Regiment ( later the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders ).

"For great personal gallantry on 16th November 1857 at the Secundra Bagh in killing five of the enemy with one of their own swords who were attempting to follow Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart when that officer was carrying a Colour which he had captured." Elected by the regiment.

Peter Grant was invested with his Victoria Cross by Major General Sir R. Garrett at Umbeyla, Peshawar, India, on 6th December 1859.

From the Dundee Advertiser newspaper, 11th January 1868:

"On Friday, 27th December, Private Peter Grant, of the 93rd Regiment, was missed from where he lived in Dundee and was not again seen till yesterday morning, when his body was discovered by Constable Bremner floating in the river a little to the east of the Craig Harbour. Bremner had the body taken out and conveyed to the dead-house.

On the breast of Grant's uniform coat were five medals and the Victoria Cross. One medal had two clasps, bearing on them "Relief of Lucknow" and "Lucknow, 1857".(*) The others were for Pegu, Sobraon, Sebastopol, and the Crimea. The Cross had inscribed on it the name of the deceased and is dated 1857. In the pockets were found a four-penny piece, a penny, and a knife. Grant was stationed in Aberdeen and was here on a visit to his friends. It is said that he was last seen in Wheatley's public house, Overgate."

Peter Grant's Victoria Cross group has never been sold or auctioned and its whereabouts after being discovered on his uniform coat, following his death in the River Tay, is unknown. Of course, there is a possibility that Grant was buried still wearing his Victoria Cross and other medals.

(*) Peter Grant was only entitled to the Crimea Medal, Turkish Crimea Medal and Indian Mutiny Medal. The other two campaign medals mentioned in the newspaper article as being attached to Grant's uniform coat is a mystery.

  • Victoria Cross
  • Crimea Medal ( 1854-56 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Sebastopol"
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Relief of Lucknow" - "Lucknow"
  • Turkish Crimea Medal ( 1855-56 )
  • ( Sutlej Medal ( 1845-46 ) clasp: "Sobraon" )
  • ( India General Service Medal ( 1854-95 ) clasp: "Pegu" )


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Iain Stewart, 1 June 2003