b. 11/1823 Carrabane, County Galway, Ireland. d. 01/12/1888 Penzance, Cornwall.
John Divane (1823-1888) was born in November 1823 in Canavane, Loughrea, County Galway, Ireland. Little is sadly known of his early life except that it is believed that his surname was misspelt and was probably Duane. He enlisted with the 60th Rifles in April 1854 and, from the start of his military service, he was a problem soldier. Periods of detention and forfeiture of pay are regularly seen on his service record from 1854-1857, when he seems to have cleaned up his act.
After he enlisted as an older recruit (being 31 when he enlisted), he was sent to join his new regiment in India, where they had been since 1845. On 10th September 1857, as the Delhi Field Force made its moves prior to the assault on the city, Divane was at the head of a charge of the Baluchi and Sikh troops on one of the enemy’s trenches. Divane reached the top of the enemy’s breastworks before being shot down.
He was elected by his peers for the Victoria Cross, which was announced in the London Gazette on 20th January 1860. Divane was badly wounded during the assault on Delhi, and had to have his leg amputated. The result was that he was invalided out of the Army in January 1858. He returned to England and would receive his VC from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 9th November 1860. He spent his remaining years as a fish hawker on the streets of Penzance, Cornwall.
Divane passed away on 1st December 1888, aged 65 at his home, 35 New Street, Penzance. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Penzance Cemetery. In 1995, a Commonwealth War Graves headstone was placed on his grave. Unfortunately, the new headstone struggled to cope with the extremes of Cornish weather and was replaced by a polished granite headstone. His medal is not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: PENZANCE CEMETERY, PENZANCE, CORNWALL. SECTION M-3, GRAVE 18
Kevin Brazier (May 2016)