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Cundall & Howlett

Private John Dryden 1856

Hand-coloured salted paper print | RCIN 760220

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Hand-coloured photograph of Private John Dryden seated with his arms crossed. He is wearing blue hospital clothing and a red hat. There is a brick wall behind him.

John Dryden served with the 11th Prince Albert's Own Hussars during the Crimean War. He was wounded during the Charge of the Light Brigade, suffering 27 lance wounds to his back and sides and cuts to his head and the bridge of his nose. He was taken prisoner on 25 October 1854 and was eventually exchanged at Odessa a year later, on 26 October 1855. He was invalided back to England [on 23 January 1856]. He was one of the wounded veterans seen by Queen Victoria at Chatham Military Hospital. Following her visits to the hospital she commissioned a series of photographs of the veterans from the photographers Joseph Cundall and Robert Howlett.

Dryden had enlisted in August 1853, aged 23, having previously worked as a joiner. His medical discharge note stated: 'Disabled from active service from vertigo and headache consequent on three sabre wounds at back of head received on 25 October 1854. Received also the same day, a sabre wound at upper part of left arm and the bridge of the nose. 26 lance wounds of back, the right side of the body, and the right thigh. From the sabre wound at back of head there occured an exploiation of a portion of the occupital bone which was fractured.'

The Queen wrote in her journal for 16 April 1856: 'Then, Private John Dryden of the 11th Hussars, who had received 31 wounds, 26 of which lance wounds, the remainder, being sabre cuts, received at Balaklava, where he was completely surrounded by Russians & taken prisoner, being for a year in prison at Simpheropol. He only suffers from the cuts in his head & has a scar across the bridge of his nose. But I fear I have not the time to write down all I should like.' (QVJ, Royal Archives)