Military General Service Medal with clasp 'Guadaloupe'
John was born in around 1776 in Whipsnade near Lincoln. We don't know anything about his family or his early life.
By the time he was 23 John was working as a labourer. He must have wanted more from life though because on the 4th November 1799 he travelled to Stamford in Lincolnshire to join the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot. He was 5 feet 11 1/4 inches tall when he enlisted, with a 'fair' complexion and brown eyes and hair.
John served with the 2nd Battalion of the 52nd Regiment in the UK for 3 years and 51 days. Towards the end of 1802 it was decided to convert the Regiment into Light Infantry, so the fittest officers and men were moved into the 1st Battalion and the rest stayed in the 2nd. John stayed in the 2nd Battalion. On Christmas Day 1802 this became a separate Regiment; the 96th.
After a year in Ireland the 96th were sent overseas. They sailed to the West Indies in January 1805 and were mainly based in Jamaica. During this time the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were underway. Both Britain and France owned islands in the West Indies, and their ships fought many battles in the area.
Denmark also owned islands, known as the Danish West Indies. Until 1807 Denmark was neutral, but it then allied itself with the French. As a result the British forces in the West Indies invaded their islands. John was involved in the capture of 2 of them: St Croix and St Thomas, during December.
John was promoted to Corporal in around September 1809. As well as disrupting the operations of the French Navy the British began to invade and capture French owned islands in the West Indies during 1809. The last remaining French possession was Guadeloupe. John took part in the invasion of this island on the 27th January 1810. He was a member of Captain Adam's Company. After a short conflict the French surrendered on the 5th February.
We don't know when John was promoted to Sergeant, one source gives December 1810 and another suggests it was in October 1811. John and the 96th Regiment stayed in the West Indies until July 1816 when they returned to the UK.
On the 21st August 1816, at Hilsea near Portsmouth in Hampshire, John was approved for discharge 'in consequence of being worn out'. He finally left the Army on the 24th September, after 16 years 326 days. He had been abroad for 11 years 179 days of this time.
When he was discharged John was still 5 feet 11 1/4 inches tall, but his hair had turned grey and his complexion was described as 'sallow'. He was entitled to a pension from the Army in recognition of his service. He was able to sign his own name on his discharge form.
We don't know what happened to John between then and 1841. In that year he lived on Chapel Gate in the village of Gedney, Lincolnshire. He was an agricultural labourer. John lived with 2 other people. They were both called Elizabeth Longlands. One was 59 years old and the other was 12. We don't know whether they were John's wife and child, or other relatives.
John married between April and June 1845. We don't know his wife's name.
The Military General Service Medal began to be issued in 1847. It was only awarded to former soldiers who applied for it themselves.
John died in Gedney between October and December 1848. He was around 72 years old. His medal was displayed in the Officers' Mess at the Manchester Regiment Depot at Ladysmith Barracks, Ashton-under-Lyne, for a number of years before being donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1959.