1854-95 India General Service Medal Pair "Victoria Cross Recipient"

Stock code: MD000035
Categories: Military Medals
The campaign pair to Colonel R. K. Ridgeway, V.C., C.B., 44th Gurkha Regiment of Bengal Infantry, awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Konoma in the Naga Hills when he was severely wounded.

India General Service 1854-94, 2 clasps, Naga 1879-80, N.E. Frontier 1891 (Capt. R. K. Ridgeway, 44th Bengal N.I.), India General Service 1895-1902, 3 clasps, Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Samana 1897, Tirah 1897-98 (Lt. Coll. R. K. Ridgeway, V.C. I.S.C.) official correction to ‘V.C.’, good very fine (2).

This pair is from the collection of Colonel R. B. Jay, who died on 23 June 1964, and who was the author of Men whose Fathers were Men, published under the pseudonym “Centurion”. His collection was for many years held at Norwich Castle until disposed of by auction some 20 years ago. The whereabouts of the Victoria Cross itself is not known.

Richard Kirby Ridgeway, the second son of R. Ridgeway, Esq., F.R.C.S., and Annette, daughter of R. Adams, Esq., of Cavanagh, County Cavan, was gazetted from Sandhurst to H.M’s 96th Regiment as Ensign on 8 January 1868. He became Lieutenant on 14 February 1870 and was transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps in 1872. Appointed to the 44th (Sylhet) Regiment of Native Infantry, he served as Adjutant from 1874 to 1880, and in February 1875 took part in the punitive expedition to Ninu after the attack by Naga tribesmen on Lieutenant Holcombe’s survey party (mentioned in despatches).

On 14 October 1879 the Nagas again carried out an unprovoked attack this time on the Local Commisioner, Mr Damant, who was killed together with Jemadar Prem Singh and ten Sepoys of the 43rd Gurkhas. An expedition was mounted to restore order in Naga territory; the force comprising a small party of the 34th N.I., a detachment of 300 Gurkhas of the 43rd N.I. and the whole of the 44th N.I., under Colonel Nuttall, with two 7-pounder mountain guns. The Field Force was commanded by Brigadier-General J. L.Nation, and, having taken to the field, a detachment of the 43rd attacked and secured the village of Sephima on 15 November. On 21 November the Field Force prepared to attack the fortified Naga village of Konoma on the following day.
‘This village, which bore the finest fighting reputation throughout the Naga hills, was situated on a sort of rocky island in a valley, and was strongly fortified in terraces, with stone walls and towers. The attack was made by 500 rifles, three-fourths being 44th, with their two 7-pounder guns, and one fourth 43rd, together with 26 Frontier Police. The stoutness of the defence created surprise. True, it was probable that several thousand men were behind the walls and stockades of Konoma, and that half of them were equipped with firearms, including many Sniders and Enfields, but such preparations, and such stubborn resistance, were a new feature in Naga warfare. The village was first shelled by the two guns, but without effect on the fortifications, so Colonel Nuttall decided to storm the place. The outlying fortifications were soon taken, but then the attackers found themselves faced by the inner lines, a stone-faced scarp, surmounted by a loopholed stockade, the whole about twelve feet high. The guns were brought up to within seventy yards, and the gateway was more or less shattered. Two assaults on the stockade were made; these were led with the greatest gallantry by Lieutenant R. K. Ridgeway, Adjutant of the 44th, who was severely wounded as he reached the gateway, where he heroically remained until the men were able to force an entrance.’

The 44th’s assault, which cost the lives of Major C. H. Cock, D.A.A.G., Lieutenant H. H. Forbes, 44th, Subadar-Major Narbir Sahi, 44th, and seventeen men, came to a standstill at nightfall. The artillery detachment had used all its ammunition during the day-long fight and although the force prepared for another major assault on the following day, the Nagas evacuated Konoma during the night, retreating to entrench
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