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Closing Down Sale At Home Of Dr. William Bradshaw

In 2018, we rightly condemn the closure of rural Post Offices, but take note, some five assorted clothing retail outlets, all situated within the area of Liberty Square, here in Thurles, [e.g. Heatons, Dempsey’s, Joanne’s Boutique, Elverys and First Editions] worryingly have either closed, moved or are about to shut shop, and all within a 12-month period. [Those that claim they rule over us, should perhaps please pay attention.]

Heatons
Established some 70 years ago, one such premises, ‘Heatons’ fast became one of Ireland’s largest group of department stores, providing the latest in men’s, women’s and kid’s fashions; as well as retailing contemporary home wares and home textiles. March 2016 saw the sale of this Irish chain store to Mike Ashley’s ‘Sports Direct’ for a reported €47.5m, following the eventual settlement of a bitter legal dispute.

The Heatons department Store building here in Thurles, which had allowed its outer appearance to greatly deteriorate, has however a rich, past, local, associated history.

Picture [1] – Heatons Liberty Square, Thurles. Picture [2] – Senior Surgeon Sir Anthony Dickson Home. Picture [3] – Assistant-Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw. Picture [4] – Dr. William Bradshaw’s medal display. Picture [5] – Painting by the VC Artist Louis William Desanges (1822–1906), depicting Surgeon (later Surgeon General) Sir Anthony Dickson Home (1826–1914), VC (Victoria Cross), KCB (Knight Commander of the Bath), and Assistant Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw (1830–1861), VC (Victoria Cross), Lucknow (Lakhnau), 1857.

The Heatons building once occupied the Medical Hall in Thurles and was the home of Dr. George Bradshaw and his son Dr. William Bradshaw; former who died on the 14th Aug 1867, aged 68 years and who was a member of the Thurles / Rahealty Famine Food committee, (1846/1847), contributing not only his medical skills, but also his family’s finances; and the latter, William, who died on March 9th 1861 aged just 31 years.

An assistant surgeon; Dr. William Bradshaw served in the 50th regiment (West Kents) during the Crimean war. This war was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856, in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. Dr Bradshaw was a recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), won while serving with the 90th (The Cameronians) Scottish Rifles, at the relief of Lucknow, latter the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

A Victoria Cross remains the highest and most prestigious medal awarded for valour in the face of the enemy granted to British and Commonwealth armed forces of any military rank. The VC was first introduced on the 29th of January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since that day, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, (11 to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army), have been awarded since the Second World War. The source of the metal from which the medals were struck / manufactured, was derived from Russian cannon guns captured at the Siege of Sevastopol, an important and historical port on the Black Sea. Metal for most of the medals struck since December 1914 are understood to originate from two Chinese cannon. Owing to its rarity, the Victoria Cross is highly prized, with medals fetching figures in excess of some €600,000 at auction.

An assistant surgeon in 1857 and then just 27 years old, Dr. Bradshaw’s VC was presented two years later by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, London, England on June 8th 1859. His Victoria Cross today is on display at the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum, Keogh Barracks, Mytchett Place Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

The London Gazette, the official journal of record of the British government, on June 18th, 1858 stated, “Her Majesty has also been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the Decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers of Her Majesty [Later to be Surgeon General  Sir Anthony Dickson Home (1826-1914) and Assistant-Surgeon Dr William Bradshaw] and of the East India Company’s Armies, who have been recommended to Her Majesty’s Warrant for that Decoration, in accordance with the rules & regulations laid down in Her Majesty’s Warrant before referred to on account of Acts of Bravery performed by them in India.

Citations
 Surgeon General Sir Anthony Dickson Home
“For persevering bravery and admirable conduct in charge of the wounded men left behind the column, when the troops under the late Major-General Havelock, forced their way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 18o7. The escort left with the wounded had, by casualties, been reduced to a few stragglers, and being entirely separated from the column, this small party with the wounded were forced into a house, in which they defended themselves till it was set on fire. They then retreated to a shed a few yards from it, and in this place continued to defend themselves for more than twenty-two hours, till relieved. At last, only six men and Mr. Home remained to fire. Of four officers who were with the party, all were badly wounded, and three are since dead. The conduct of the defence during the latter part of the time devolved therefore on Mr. Home, and to his active exertions previously to being forced into the house, and his good conduct throughout, the safety of any of the wounded, and the successful defence, is mainly to be attributed.”

Assistant-Surgeon William Bradshaw
Date of Act of Bravery, 26th September, 1857
“For intrepidity and good conduct when, ordered with Surgeon Home, 90th Regiment, to remove the wounded men left behind the column that forced its way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 1857. The doolie bearers had left the doolies, (Latter a Hindi word for a ‘litter’ or covered stretcher), but by great exertions, and notwithstanding the close proximity of the sepoys; Surgeon Anthony Dickson Home Home, and Assistant Surgeon Bradshaw got some of the bearers together, and Assistant-Surgeon Bradshaw with about twenty doolies, becoming separated from the rest of the party, succeeded in reaching the Residency in safety by the river bank.”

The British Residency at Lucknow saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Indian Mutiny (1857–1859). Under siege from July 1857, a relief force fought its way into the city in September 1857, but the siege could not be lifted until November. Surgeon Sir Anthony Dickson Home, and Assistant-Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw were both part of this relief force.

Sir Anthony Dickson Home gave his own account of the action in ‘Records of the 90th Regiment’: “Here our men fell thickly and all the doolies (covered stretchers) were deserted”.

Some of the doolies did manage to reach safety. William Bradshaw was sent back with Mr Hurst, latter an Apothecary (Chemist), to the rear of the column and after managing to round up some of the doolie bearers, they then succeeded in getting the wounded away from the area and along the river to the Residency.  Bradshaw became wounded in during this evacuation.
The remaining doolies; with their wounded still with them, were scattered about the street and square with the doolie bearers themselves sheltering from grapeshot fire. When the mutineers began to make their entry into the square; fearing for the safety of the wounded left stranded in the doolies, Sir Anthony Dickson Home rushed out into the open and with the help of some of the escort, they dragged the wounded into a doorway. The mutineers now turned their attention on this doorway. Using the bodies of dead mutineers and any other objects available; a barricade was erected against the mutineers increasing fire power. Further attempts continued in the rescuing of the wounded from the doolies, resulting in wounds to both the rescuers and the rescued. When not treating the wounded Sir Anthony Dickson Home found himself involved in the fighting.

Eventually the mutineers gained access to the roof with the intention of setting it alight and burning out the party below. The able bodied rushed to another building, however the mutineers followed followed and again set fire to the roof. Desperate for water and on constantly alert to the fighting in their vicinity, at daybreak the party were finally relieved and were led to safety.

Dr. William Bradshaw died on March 9th 1861 and today his ashes can be found buried in St Mary’s graveyard, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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