A career soldier who served a total of nearly fifty years starting on the island of Saint Helena and ending in West Bromwich.
John Malcolm Carter (1835-1914)
John was born at sea on the “Sir Charles Malcolm” (merchant ship acting as a troopship) carrying his father Matthew out to serve in India. He would move around with his parents to wherever his father was posted until they arrived on Saint Helena. (a small volcanic island in the south Atlantic Ocean – part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha.) Matthew joined the newly formed First Helena Regiment of foot as did John at the age of 14 and also his younger brother Matthew Jnr. It was on Saint Helena that John met his wife Ann Bertha. Her father, through his association with the 66th Regiment, had been one of Napoleon’s guards during his incarceration and death on the island.
John, Bertha and their two sons moved back to England in the 1860’s after his discharge due to disability. After a short time in London they settled in West Bromwich, living in Queen Street, Sandwell Road then Griffin Street where he died aged 78.
Once a prominent figure in the military life of the town John Malcolm Carter was given a funeral with full military honours. Members of the military organisations taking part marched up from the Drill Hall on Carters Green to the house in Griffin Street. From there a gun carriage carried his coffin, draped with the Union Jack, his helmet and sword placed on top, to All Saints Church. After the ceremony the Last Post was sounded and the customary three-volley salute fired over his grave. Thanks to his descendent Ray Durnall we know that the gravestone for John and his wife still remains in All Saints churchyard.
The Earl of Dartmouth wrote:
“I always held Sergeant Carter in the highest esteem and it has always been a pleasure to me to feel that the acquaintance commenced so many years ago in the old Volunteer days, soon ripened into a friendship which continued to the end”.
1850 May Enlisted 1st Helena Regiment of Foot aged 14
1855 Promoted to Corporal
1858 Promoted to Colour Sergeant
1860 Promoted to Sergeant
1861 Sept Discharged for disability (Ophthalmia) Awarded a daily pension of 10d, later increased to 2s.
1861-1865 30th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers – Sergeant Instructor
1866-1891 3rd Administrative Battalion Staffordshire Rifle Volunteers.(Sergeant Instructor) Associated with the Old Twentieth.
1891-1898 Pensioner recruiter (Lichfield & Birmingham)
A member of the West Bromwich National Reserve
As a mark of respect, in 1869, Sgt Carter was presented with a silver watch and purse of gold by the 20th South Staffs Regiment. He was also presented with the War Officer Volunteer long service medal.
His father-in-law was one of Napoleon's bodyguards on St. Helena