McCabe inscription


Sergeant Bernard McCabe occupies a special place in the history of the Regiment. As a Sergeant in the 31st Foot he displayed outstanding bravery at the Battle of Sobraon on 10th February 1846. When both officers carrying the Colours had been shot down he carried the Regimental Colour to the top of the Sikhs' Army ramparts, and by this action the Regiment was inspired to go over and through the defences, leading on to the final defeat of the Sikhs in the short, but very intense 1st Sikh War. Sergeant McCabe's action was subsequently recorded in the official painting portraying the Battle, while his gallantry is remembered each year on 'Sobraon Day' by the Battalions of the present Regiment. On this day each Battalion's Regimental Colour is formally handed over to a selected Sergeant, the Sobraon Sergeant, to be held in the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess for the day.

After his gallantry at Sobroan, Sergeant McCabe was awarded a commission in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, and with them went to Hong Kong taking part in April 1847 in a short campaign to protect the British 'factories' at Canton. After returning to India, in April 1849 McCabe transferred on promotion to Lieutenant to the 32nd Regiment, now remembered as the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

When the Indian Army Mutiny started in the summer of 1857, the 32nd were at Lucknow and Cawnpore, some 50 miles away. After the destruction and massacre of the force at Cawnpore, those at Lucknow came under close siege, the Garrison being confined to a small area centred on the Residency. Throughout the siege Bernard McCabe, now promoted Captain, was a tower of strength. He was assigned to defend the key south-east sector of the perimeter, and distinguished himself continually, first especially in repelling the second main assault of the Mutineer forces, and then in a series of sorties to disrupt them by blowing up positions and spiking their guns. Sadly on the last of these sorties Captain McCabe was seriously wounded and died three days later on 1st October 1857. He has no known grave, but his then Regiment placed a special Memorial tablet in the Lucknow Church of which this is a replica extolling his conspicuous gallantry during the siege and recalling his bravery at Sobraon.for gallantry during the battle.