Ufford: Soldier’s bullet riddled Indian Mutiny tunic gets a new home
- Credit: Contributed
A RARE tunic worn by a Suffolk soldier who cheated death during a bloody gunfight has found a new home.
The 156-year-old military jacket belonged to Lieutenant Campbell Clark, who spent his later life in Ufford, near Woodbridge, and is buried in the village. His great-great nephew, John Gordon Clark, has now donated the bullet pierced tunic to the National Army Museum in London.
Lt Clark was wearing the jacket while attached to British Army unit, the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers), during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-59. He was ambushed by rebel sepoys and shot at point blank range, with the musket ball passing through his stomach, taking with it his gold watch-chain and pieces of clothing.
His comrades managed to get him back to the basic military hospital and he was considered beyond hope. But he defied the odds and subsequent surgeries removed fragments of watch-chain, clothing and lead musket ball from inside the wound.
In a letter of January 4, 1858, Lt Clark, whose younger brother Edgar served with the 21st Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, wrote: “The Gen Hospital was a terrible place and I really think had we remained there we should have died or gone very near death.
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“I have only one fear about my wound, and that is that there may be still some flannel shirt or red flannel from which my coat was made or merino under-waistcoat, or dyed blue trouser in my stomach and that may trouble me after the wound has healed up.”
Despite his concerns he went on to have a long and successful career, rising to the rank of colonel. He moved to the Red House in Ufford in 1887, where he lived for nine years, eventually dying of stomach cancer on March 28, 1896, aged 69.
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Pip Dodd, a curator at the National Army Museum, said: “Campbell Clark’s tunic and the story surrounding it provide a graphic example of the perils of soldiering in the 19th Century, yet also the extraordinary fortune of some soldiers to survive horrific wounds.”