THREE RARE CABINET PHOTOGRAPHS, of Pte John Ford in full uniform.



Three cabinet photographs of John (a.k.a. James) Ford of the 4th Light Dragoons who was part of the troop who rode into the ‘Valley of Death’ at Balaclava, 25th October 1854. Shot in full uniform, by J. J. Avery, London, with two medals (one; Crimea A.B.I.S., the other, Turkish Medal) best visible in the head and shoulders portrait; and, in the two full-length portraits, with his sabre unsheathed. Born in 1833 Private John Ford enlisted in December 1852 at the age of 19. Two years later he was part of one of the best known charges in military history, the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, so named by Tennyson in his poem of the same year.

John Ford was one of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade who testified during the ‘Cardigan vs Calthorpe’ lawsuit in 1863. His affidavit shows he was a Private in G Troop, 4th Hussars, and his statement of events is as follows: “I have been ten years and a half in the service. I was in the front rank near the centre of the right squadron of the 4th Light Dragoons, during the Light Cavalry charge at the battle of Balaclava. My horse was shot as we were advancing to the Russian guns, and fell with me, my leg being under him. This was about 300 yards from the battery. While lying on the ground looking for someone to assist in lifting the horse off me I saw Lord Cardigan to the left of where I was lying, cantering to the rear. He was quite alone. Just after Lord Cardigan passed me, a Private named Farrell came up, and assisted in getting the horse off me.”  

Ford remained in the army for the rest of his career, he appears in the photograph of the survivors of the Charge at the 33rd Anniversary Dinner (1887), photograph held in the National Army Museum collection (NAM. 1987-10-56-1). The current photographs of an older Ford wearing his 4th Hussar uniform that he would have worn during the Battle of Balaclava were probably taken in the 1890s or possibly 1900s.

In 1909, aged 74, Ford recited Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ at the Colchester Hippodrome whilst wearing his old uniform of the 4th Hussars. According to the United Services Gazette, who covered the event he was “Cheered to the echo by a powerful house, which included the Mayor and Mayoress and the Commanding Officer of the troops in garrison here [in Colchester]”. He died in 1911 and is buried in Paddington Cemetery, Willesden Lane.  

Stock Code: 221878

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