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The Man Behind the Medals: Private Timothy Bright, 43rd Regt of Light Infantry

The Man Behind the Medals 

In this blog series, SOFO Museum's Research volunteers look at the stories behind some of the medal sets in the museum's collection, from those that can be seen on a visit in our dedicated Medals display to some of those that are still tucked away in the archive.

While medals will tell you a little bit about a soldier's service, it's only with further research that their full story can be revealed! SOFO's Research volunteers respond to enquiries we receive through our Research Service, helping people find out more about their relatives who served in the county regiments, and raising funds to support the museum in the process. Using a combination of the museum's records and those available elsewhere, they piece together stories like this one.

Private Timothy Bright, 43rd Regt of Light Infantry

Timothy Bright was baptised on the 7 th November 1784, in Grimley, Worcs, the son of Timothy & Elizabeth. The Brights appear to have been a family of farm labourers, but Timothy had other plans.

He is recorded as having joined the 43 rd on 25 th April 1805 in Exeter, aged just 20 years old, having previously served in the local militia. The Regimental Register notes that at that time he was about 5ft 5 inches tall, with a sallow complexion, grey eyes, and light brown hair.

Pte Bright’s first campaign with the 43 rd was in the invasion and capture of Copenhagen in August 1807, the land part of the operation which captured the Danish fleet and thus denied its use to Napoleon.
Bright was then with the 1/ 43 rd in the winter of 1808/09 when the army underwent the fearsome retreat to Corunna, although the 1 / 43 rd  fell back on Vigo before being evacuated. However, Pte Bright and the 43 rd were soon back in the Peninsula and fought in most of the major battles of that campaign which eventually forced the French out of Spain.

Print from the museum collection A large framed print showing Major-General Robert Crauford with men of the 43rd, 52nd and 95th Rifles during the retreat from Corunna

The battles in which Pte Bright took part are commemorated by the clasps on his campaign medal. One of the few major battles which the 43 rd did not appear in was Talavera, fought on
27 th /28th July 1809, although even then they managed an amazing feat of marching in the attempt to take their place in the line. Led by General “Black Bob” Crauford, they had marched 52 miles in 26 hours through the heat of the Spanish summer, each man carrying full kit of 50lb-60lb!

Following the successful campaign in Spain, Pte Bright and the 43 rd arrived back in England in July 1814 only to find themselves under orders for America where a war with the new USA was raging. They landed on 31 st December 1914, just in time to take part in the disastrous Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.

News from Europe that Napoleon had escaped from Elba found the 43 rd rushing back to England and by 19 th June they had landed at Ostend – just a day too late for the Battle of Waterloo! However, they did form part of the Army of Occupation which marched on and garrisoned Paris, not leaving France until November 1818.

Pte Bright continued to serve with the colours of the 43 rd until his discharge on 18 th May 1826, having served for 21 years. A Pension Board examined his case for a pension and found that “his constitution being worn out by long and arduous services”, he was “strongly recommended for a pension.”

Timothy Bright was obviously made of strong stuff however, for he was recorded in the Census of 1841 as being married and living in Bromsgrove on his pension. He was still there in 1851 and 1861 as a widower, having outlived his wife Mary and died there in 1862. Awards: Military General Service Medal with Clasps for Busaco, Fuentes D’Onoro, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nive and Toulouse

The Military General Service Medal awarded to Private Bright on display at SOFO Museum

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