James Alexander Mustard
Survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade
Enlists as an ordinary soldier
Born in Soho on 12 February 1830 the son of Thomas, a tailor, and Ann, James Mustard enlisted in the 3rd Dragoons in 1850.
He transferred to the 17th Lancers and, in 1854, went with his regiment to the Crimea, under the command of Lord Lucan. Thus, he took part in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, 145 men of his regiment taking part. He was wounded and so did not attend the roll call the following morning, one of the 38 men of his regiment who had survived unscathed. In later years he described the episode:
On the morning of the 25th we were standing to our horses… the hour had nearly come when, at all costs, we had to advance to the Russians and retake the cannons they had captured… All I know is that we started off under Lord Cardigan, first at the trot, then at the canter and finally at a mad gallop in which horses and men were wedged together in one great mass. The 17th Lancers led the way on the left, and I was in the front rank. It was hell. Cannon belched forth shot and shell all round us and I saw many a comrade fall, but I got through all right. Then we turned. We came back in extended order, but the ride was just as awful, just as maddening. This time I was not so fortunate. I got a canister shot in my left side that cut my belt and sent my sword rattling to the ground. I kept my saddle, and pulled up with the rest.
Returns to Twickenham
He returned to England, but in 1857 his regiment was sent out to India to assist with the suppression of the Mutiny. Promoted Corporal, he took part in various engagements, including the siege of Delhi. He was discharged in 1864 and came to live in Orleans Road, Twickenham with his wife Sarah Jane. There were four sons and two daughters of the union. Here he worked as a tailor, a trade which perhaps he had learnt from his father. The family moved later to Turks Road (now Winchester Road), St Margarets, where he died on 4 February 1916, the last surviving 17th Lancer from the Charge.
St Margarets Community website: sgmgrts.org.uk/archives/2008