Letter (March 1914) from 3313 Private John Bourke, who served in the Crimea and in the Mutiny (Lost his Crimea medal; a re-issue was made on application to the Regimental Association).
I thank you for sending me a little present of post cards. Glad to see some of the old Regiment on the post cards you sent me. I 'listed on the 3rd Nov. '52, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Six months in Newcastle and then to Leeds in '53 (he appears to have deserted in Leeds). 'Listed in 41st in '53, went to Ireland and was there 6 months; then we went to Limerick for 6 months. Then from Cork to the Crimea. The name of the vessel - Jumna - we sailed on. I had a good gentleman went with me to the Crimea from Gloucestershire was a Lieutenant in 'A' Company. Sailed from Queenstown out to Crimea; went to Constantinople then to Crimea. We had a good fire all night on landing, for though no assaults came we thought we might be attacked. Lord Raglan gave orders for refreshments so we had a good do. Joined our regiment the next morning. I went to the 28th after I had to go back to the Regiment. (He was recognised and had to serve with the 28th). Then we came to Malta. In Malta, as near as I can guess, 18 months. Then we went to India.
I was in the storm of the Redan with the 41st. I got a wound in my arm the day we stormed the town. I had my haversack belt cut from me, and had a narrow escape from death. We marched home; we did not take the town that day; we went the next day. We were to get up early in the morning for the town attack, but went in little boats across to Sebastopol. The place was set on fire - the Russians fired it, we would have taken it in half the time but the Constantine Battery kept our boats back, and we could not get up the them. I would not stop in hospital when I got wounded; I would go to my duties like a man. I often thought of these things when I was in the desert. Then we got our route to India, under command of Colonel Roberts. We had a good supper when we got into the desert. 18 months in India. Malta to India in '56. Malta to Alexandria, then we sailed from Alexandria to Grand Cairo. We marched 70 miles in the sand to Suez. In Suez a week; then we sailed to Bombay. We got order to go to Beyt, inland. We got a few men killed there and two or three officers by the rebels. We were under command of Col. Adams, after we came back to Bombay, after taking the place. Col. Adams was a brave and dear general. Four years in Nasirabad and come back again. Young Kingsford served with us. He was in the storm of the Redan with the 41st; he got to be Colonel; he was sadly wounded. I come away, got a good character with 2 medals.
remain, yours faithfully
3313 Pte John Bourke, late 28th Regt.