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Lieutenant Purefoy Lockwood

Waterloo 200

Known as Bombproof Lockwood


Captain Arthur Gore's Company

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Submitted by: Amanda Townshend

Date added: 2 Apr 2015

My great great great grandfather is something of a legend in our family in the light of his unlikely survival upholding the honour of his regiment at Waterloo (Quatre Bras)!

In spite of the severity of the head wound he received, his recovery was remarkable and subsequently earned him the nickname of “Bombproof Lockwood”. He became quite a notability of the day, according to Macready’s diary!!

He was born in 1792 in Tipperary, Ireland, son of a vicar. No more than a tall lad, he obtained his commission first in the Tipperary Militia from whence he joined the 30th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign on 18th April 1811, and crowded into five short years, active service around Europe.

He served in the Campaign of Holland in 1811 and his first battle was probably the storming of Badajoz on April 8th 1812. Here it is said he was the first man into the breach but history also relates that he rescued a distressed young nun by returning her to her parents “on a mule” after the battle. The Colonel, five officers and thirty eight soldiers were killed and a further eighty eight wounded.His next fight was the battle of Salamanca, fought on 23rd July 1812, for which he received the medal and clasps. It was at this battle that John Pratt of the Light Company, took the Eagle of the French 22nd Infantry.

On the memorable morning of June 16th 1815, at Quatre Bras, Lockwood was severely wounded by a musket shot to his head. The story goes that on this occasion it was a nun who saved him! Finding his lifeless body, but discovering he was not quite dead, she took him from the death cart to the surgeons. It is likely that he was first “trephined “ at the field hospital at Quatre Bras, in order to remove the shattered bits of bone and some of the disrupted musket ball from his head. The musket ball had been split by the sharp edge of the cranial bone.It is probably that he was trepanned later, probably in Brussels, so as to remove the rest of the bone shards and the lead ball. Whether one could remain conscious for such an operation without anaesthetic, with only some laudanaum or opium after the operation, is doubtful, but Purefoy Lockwood was saved.

As the bone would never grow back and, disliking the look of his head wound, he had a silversmith tap out a silver plate inscribed with the word “Bombproof”to cover the head wound - which he then partially covered with a dashing black headband, “which lent to his handsome face and tall manly figure, something of its distinguished bearing.

Capt Lockwood was placed on half pay in August 1816. He married the daughter of a distinguished Dublin physician, had three children and died in June 1859,taking his wound to his grave some forty four years after the Battle of Waterloo. His silver plate however, remained a rather gruesome relic!

He had a funeral with military honours; his coffin was borne on a gun carriage led by a firing party with the band of the Scots Greys (his son’s regiment) and the pall bearers were four captains of his regiment.

Sources:*The XXXth Regimental Magazine of 1910
Dr Michael Crumplin, expert on Napoleonic surgery
Michael Lockwood O’Flynn (my father), family history.
“The Advocate” June 1859

Submitted by Amanda Townshend

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