THIS is the story of Private Alexander Gardner, who served with the 2nd North British Regiment of Dragoons (Scots Greys or the 2nd Dragoons) during the Crimean War. This story is one of many joint projects between Hidden Oswestry and the Oswestry Town Museum.

Alexander Douglas Gardner was born in 1826 in Norwich, to Corporal Alexander Gardner, who served in the Battle of Waterloo. Following Cpl Gardner’s own discharge from the army in 1835, the Gardner family moved to Oswestry, settling in Llwynmaen.

Private Gardner was described as being “aged 22 years, a labourer, being 5 feet 9 7/8 inches tall, of a fresh complexion, with grey eyes and light brown hair” when he was recruited into the army by his brother, Pte James Gardner, in 1848. His pay for 12 years’ service was £8.15s.6d.

Unfortunately, Pte Gardner had difficulty adapting to army life at first. Only 200 days into service, he was sentenced to military imprisonment for a period of one week.

In August 1851, he was again sentenced to military imprisonment, for a period of three months this time.

Pte Gardner saw service in the Battle of Balaclava, serving in the reserve during the Charge of the Light Brigade. This was where he was fatally injured by a cannonball, which hit him in the left leg. He was assisted to safety by Pte Harry Ramage, also of the 2nd Dragoons; Ramage rode up to him and, unable to lift him onto his horse, lifted him onto his back and carried him through the gunfire. Ramage was awarded the Victoria Cross for these acts.

Gardner’s left leg was amputated and he was given a discharge from the army on October 23, 1855. He was awarded the Good Conduct Badge and the Crimean War Medal.

In a previous article we discussed John Fox Jr, of the Trustee Savings Bank.

This is where we continue the story…

Pte Gardner returned to Oswestry with only one leg, so following a stroke of sympathy, Mr Fox Jr saw to it that a subscription would allow for an artificial leg to be made – almost like how a crowdfunding campaign would work today. Both the corporation and the burgesses were approached to contribute, but sadly a shortfall meant that literally only enough was raised for HALF a leg!

Fox saw to it that he would, personally, write to Queen Victoria to explain the situation – how a soldier who fought for his Queen and Country lost his leg. Touched by the appeal, Her Majesty responded, agreeing to pay the balance.

Now the proud owner of a new leg, Pte Gardner left Oswestry and moved to Leeds. He married Emma Lavina Ramsden in March 1859 and the couple bore five children and the family later moved to Warrington. In later years Gardner succumbed to gangrene and on May 14, 1879, at the age of 52, he died from his illness.

The 2nd Dragoons continued until 1971, when they were amalgamated with 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales’s Dragoon Guards) to form the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards which still exist today. Sources: Oswestry Town Museum and Oswestry Soldiers of the Peninsular War, Waterloo and the Crimean War by Paul Ridgley, Ian Smith and Helen Smith