‘Sharpe’ hero remembered

Napoleonic hero was a Sharpe kind of guy!
Napoleonic hero was a Sharpe kind of guy!

The historical significance of a Napoleonic era soldier who ended his days as a respected member of Ballymena society is to be marked.

Ensign - later captain - Jospeh Dyas may well have been the kind of soldier that Bernard Cornwell had in mind when he wrote the ‘Sharpe’ novels.

Dyas, who died 3 May 1850,in Ballymena served with the 51st Light Infantry.

He is famous for his actions at the storming of the San Christobal fort, Badajoz; one of the bloodiest actions of the Peninsular War. He twice volunteered to be part of the Forlorn Hope attack - a death or glory mission which always suffered terrible casualties.

Dyas was offered a promotion in another regiment by the Duke of Wellington, but declined and stayed with the 51st. He subsequently served at Waterloo.

He reached the rank of Captain, later serving in the 2nd Ceylon Regiment, before taking ‘half-pay’ (pension). He retired to Ballymenaand served as the local Stipendiary Magistrate. He is buried in St. Patrick’s Churchyard off Church Street in the town.

Dyas is still celebrated by The Light Infantry for his actions at Badajoz, with a toast to “Ensign Dyas and the Stormers!”.

Now Ballymena Council has agreed to host a commemoration ceremony featuring the historical re-enactors of the 51st Light Infantry from England - possibly in March of next year.

“They will be in full dress of the period with muskets and accurate uniforms,” explained acting Chief Executive, Mr. Roger McKnight.