Falla Family Monument

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In the sanctuary of St Sampsons Parish Church, over the priest's stall, is a marble tablet in memory of Daniel Falla, his wife Suzanne Le Pelley and their son Thomas.

"Dans cette eglise et dans le meme tombeau reposent les corps de Daniel Falla, Ecuyer, de la Ronde Cheminée, fils cadet de Michel Falla, Ecuyer, des Maison au Comte; agé de 41 ans 9 mois 20 jours, décédé le 28 fevrier 1792; et de Dame Susanne Le Pelley son épouse, fille de Jean Le Pelley, Ecuyer, des Pelleys, agée de 44 ans 9 mois 20 jours, décédée le 30 septembre 1796. Ce Monument est érigé à leur memoire... '"

The description of Thomas's death is as follows:


Death of Thomas Falla

"...et à celle de leur fils cadet, Thomas Falla, Lieutenant au 12me Regiment d’Infanterie. au Siege de Seringapatam, ie 6 Avril, 1799. Age de 18 ans, 6 mois, 25 jours, des suites d'une blessure d'un boulet de canon solide pesant 26 livres, qui s'etait loge entre les deux os d'une de ses cuisses, la dite blessure s'etant enflamme considerablement, ie chirurgien du Regiment, quoiqu'ayant examine la plaie, ignorait qu'un boulet y fut renferme, et ce ne fut qu'apres sa mort, qui eut lieu six heures apres I'dvenement, qu'il fut extrait, à la surprise de toute l’armee."

Which can be translated as:

"And to that of their younger son, Thomas Falla lieutenant in the 12th Regiment of Infantry, who died at the Siege of Seringapatam, the 6th April, 1799, aged 18 years, 6 months and 25 days, from the effects of a wound from a solid cannon ball weighing 26 pounds, which had located itself between the two bones of one of his thighs. The said wound becoming considerably inflamed the regimental surgeon, although having examined it, was unaware that a bullet was enclosed, and it was only after his death, which occurred six hours after the event, that it was extracted, to the surprise of the whole army."

Thomas promotion to Lieutenant was reported in The Army List:- "To be Lieutenant, Ensign Thomas Falla, by Purchase, vice Buckeridget, Feb 1799"

Other accounts of Thomas' death

Further details of his death can be found in the diaries of his fellow officers.

Death of Lieutenant Thomas Falla

"...This evening (6th April) we were relieved in the trenches by the gallant 74th Regiment, who lost several men in their approach, and we were heartily rejoiced to regain the encampment after 24 hours' hard fighting, fatigue and fasting. In this brilliant affair eleven officers and 180 men were killed and wounded. One of the officers received so extraordinary a wound that I cannot refrain from relating the particulars. As he was entering the nullah, a shot from Seringapatam struck him in front of the right hip, lodging between the bone of the thigh. The Dooley men, or bearers of the machine on which he was carried to camp, complained of the great weight bearing on the right side. On examination of the wound the surgeons could not suppress a hopeless cast of countenance; on which the wounded officer (Lieutenant Falla) requested that he might have a bottle of port wine to keep up his spirits, and die like "one brave soldier" (he was a Guernsey man not well versed in the idiom of the English language); he was supplied with the strengthening cordial, and soon after died. The body was opened, and to the astonishment of all in camp a wrought iron shot of 26 pounds' weight was extracted from between the bones of the thigh, which had been completely covered by a swelling of the part affected, so that it was not discoovered any ball was beneath the wound until the extraction took place. This almost incredible fact was generally known, and the shot weighed and exposed to the public scrutiny of the majority of the officers of the army ...."

Diary of Colonel Bayly 12th Regiment :1796-1803. London: Army and Navy Co-Operative Society, 1896 p. 87.

"The Colonel was assisted into his palanquin, and met one of his officers, a Lieutenant Falla, soon after himself killed before Seringapatam. ' Well, Falla,' said the Colonel, ' I have got a confounded lick in the guts, but I hope I shall get over it."

"I had been living about a month with Jackson, when we heard news from the army. Among the casualties in my regiment was the death of poor Falla from a cannon-ball, a twelve-pounder, from the fort of Seringapatam, three miles distant from our trenches. It rolled in and buried itself in poor Falla's groin. It was the most remarkable wound ever seen, and the general conversation of the army, for the shot was not to be seen, the flesh swelling completely over it."

from "Memoirs of George Elers, captain in the 12th Regiment of foot (1777-1842)

Medical Query

The Monthly Illustrated Journal reported in 1890 that questions on the medical accuracy of the memorial had been raised in a letter to the Lancet:

Sirs, .. I quote the words of the writing on the marble memento in the hope that some of your readers may be able to afford some expanation of the same. Surely an outrageous falsehood is out of place in the house of God. I remain Sirs, your obedient servant, Matthew Crookshank

It is not reported if there were any responses, but when it is stated that "..a solid cannon ball weighing 26 pounds, which had located itself between the two bones of one of his thighs." we know there must be something wrong as there is only one large bone in the thigh. Thus, the second account of Thomas's death, above, from Captain Elers is likely to be more accurate.

Other family members

Thomas' sister, Suzanne (1776-1849) married James Le Marchant, brother of John Gaspard Le Marchant. She died in St Helier aged 73, on 5 October 1849.

His brother, Daniel (1778-1851) was also in the army in the 65th and 48th foot regiments. He served in Egypt in 1801, was at Walcheren as Lord Chatham’s staff and at the siege of Flushing. In 1822 he was appointed town major at Gibraltar, a post he held until 1847. He was promoted to Colonel in 1838. Daniel died in St Helier aged 72 on 14 March 1851.

See also

Attack on Fallas An account from the Gazette de l’Isle de Guernsey, 19 November 1791 of an attack on the Falla household.

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