Oct 272013
 

Regimental VC`s (Crimean War)

 (Regimental Airs (Please Play Me)

The Crimean War  (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict in which  Russia lost to an alliance of  France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and (to a lesser extent) the Piedmont-Sardinia ( The Kingdom of Sardinia ). Austria, while neutral, played a role in stopping the Russians.

The immediate issue involved the rights of Christians in the Holy Land, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Orthodox. The longer-term causes involved the steady weakening of the Ottoman Empire, and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain more and more territory and control. Russia lost and the Ottomans gained a twenty-year respite from Russian pressure. However the Christians were granted a degree of official equality and the Orthodox gained control of the Christian churches in dispute. Russia survived, gained a new appreciation for its religious diversity, and launched a reform program with far-reaching consequences. The war, say the historians:

was not the result of a calculated plan, nor even of hasty last-minute decisions made under stress. It was the consequence of more than two years of fatal blundering in slow-motion by inept statesman who had months to reflect upon the actions they took. It arose from Napoleon’s search for prestige; Nicholas’s quest for control over the Straits; his naive miscalculation of the probable reactions of the European powers; the failure of those powers to make their positions clear; and the pressure of public opinion in Britain and Constantinople at crucial moments

Russia and the Ottoman Empire went to war in October 1853 over Russia’s rights to protect Orthodox Christians. Russia gained the upper hand after destroying the Ottoman fleet at the Black Sea port of Sinope; to stop Russia’s conquest France and Britain entered in March 1854. Most of the fighting took place for control of the Black Sea, with land battles on the Crimean Peninsula in southern Russia. The Russians held their great fortress at Sevastopol for over a year. After it fell, peace became possible, and was arranged at Paris in March 1856. The religion issue had already been resolved. The main results were that the Black Sea was neutralized–Russia would not have any warships there–and the two provinces of  Wallachia and Moldavia became largely independent under nominal Ottoman rule.

There were smaller campaigns in eastern Anatolia, Caucasus, the Baltic Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the White Sea. In Russia, this war is also known as the “Eastern War” (Russian: Восточная война, Vostochnaya Voina).

The war transformed the region. Because of battles, population exchanges, and nationalist movements incited by the war, the present-day states of Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and regions such as Crimea and the Caucasus all changed in small or large ways due to this conflict.

The Crimean War is notorious for logistical, medical and tactical failure on both sides. The naval side saw both a successful Allied campaign which eliminated most of the ships of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, and a successful blockade by the Royal Navy in the Baltic. It was one of the first “modern” wars because it saw the first use of major technologies, such as railways and telegraphs. It is also famous for the work of  Florence  Nightingale and Mary Seacole, who pioneered contrasting nursing practices while caring for wounded British soldiers.

The Crimean War was one of the first wars to be documented extensively in written reports and photographs: notably by William Russell(writing for The Times newspaper) and the photographs of Roger Fenton. News from war correspondents reached all nations involved in the war and kept the public citizenry of those nations better informed of the day-to-day events of the war than had been the case in any other war to that date. The British public was very well informed and regarding the day-to-day realities of the war in the Crimea. After the French extended the telegraph to the coast of the Black Sea during the winter of 1854, the news reached London in two days. When the British laid an underwater cable to the Crimean peninsula in April 1855, news reached London in a few hours. The daily news reports energized public opinion, which brought down the Aberdeen government and carried Lord Palmerston into office as Prime Minister

Regimental VC`S From the Crimean War

Colonel Claud Thomas Bourchier VC (22 April 1831 – 19 November 1877)

Bourchier was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was 23 years old, and a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade ( Prince Consorts`s Own ) of the British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 20 November 1854 at Sebastopol, Crimea, Lieutenant Bourchier, with another lieutenant ( William James Montgomery Cuninghame) was with a party detailed to drive the Russians from some rifle pits. Advancing on the pits after dark they launched a surprise attack and drove the Russian riflemen from their cover, but in the fierce fighting which ensued the officer in command of the party was killed. The two lieutenants, however, maintained their advantage, withstood all attacks from the enemy during the night and held the position until relieved next day.

He later achieved the rank of Colonel. In later life he was a member of Boodle`s club in St James’s, London.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

Joseph Bradshaw VC  (1835 – August 29, 1893)

Bradshaw born in Pettigreen, Dromkeen, County Limerick, was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Bradshaw was approximately 20 years old, and a private in the 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade ( Prince Consort`s Own ) of the British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22 April 1855 in the Crimea, Private Bradshaw and another private (Robert Humpston), on their own attacked and captured a Russian rifle pit situated among the rocks overhanging the Woronzoff Road. The pit was occupied every night by the Russians and its capture and subsequent destruction was of great importance.

He later achieved the rank of corporal. He died at St Johns, Limerick, County Limerick 29 August 1893.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

Major General Sir Henry Hugh Clifford VC KCMG CB (12 September 1826 – 12 April 1883)

Clifford was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Clifford was the third son of  Hugh Charles Clifford, 7th Baron Clifford, who died in 1858, by his marriage with Mary Lucy, only daughter of  Thomas (afterwards Cardinal) Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorsetshire. He was born on 12 September 1826 and received his first commission as a second lieutenant in The Rifle Brigade, on 7 August 1846.

He served in South Africa against the Gaikas under Sandili in the following year, and then against the Boers, until their submission at Weinberg on the Vaal river. On the outbreak of another Kaffir War in 1852 he again went to Africa, where he remained until November 1853.

He took part in the Crimean war, where he received the appointment of aide-de-camp to Sir George Brown, commanding the light division, and was present at Alma and Inkerman, and for his gallantry in the latter battle was decorated with the Victoria cross, by leading one of the charges, killing one of the enemy with his sword, disabling another and saving the life of a soldier (5 November 1854).

In May 1855, he was appointed deputy assistant quartermaster-general, and remaining in the Crimea until the conclusion of the war was then promoted to the rank of brevet major, and received the medal and clasps for Alma, Inkerman,  Sebastopol and from foreign governments the Legion of Honour and the 5th class of the Medjidie.On the outbreak of hostilities in China he sailed thither, and as assistant quartermaster-general was present at the operations between December 1857 and January 1858 which resulted in the capture of Canton. For his services he received the brevet of lieutenant-colonel, with the China medal and Canton clasp.

On his return to England he commenced a long term of service on the staff; he was assistant quartermaster-general at Aldershot 1860–4, held a similar appointment at headquarters 1865–1868, was aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief 1870–3, and assistant adjutant-general at headquarters 1873–5. Early in 1879 Clifford was selected to proceed to South Africa to take charge of the communications of Lord Chelsford between Durban and the forces in the field. His task was no light one, for great confusion prevailed at Durban, the port of disembarkation; but by his great experience in staff duties, his knowledge of the requirements of the supply of an army, and, above all, by his familiarity with Kaffir warfare and his indefatigable nature, he very soon reduced everything to order, and his labours were fully acknowledged by Sir Garnet Wolseley.

He was gazetted a C.B. 2 June 1869, and a K.C.M.G. 19 Dec. 1879, and was granted a pension of 100l. for distinguished services 7 Oct. 1874. He was major-general of the eastern district of England from April to September 1882. He died at Ugbrooke, near Chudleigh, Devonshire, 12 April 1883.

Sir William James Montgomery-Cuninghame, 9th Baronet VC  (20 May 1834 – 11 November 1897) was a Scottish soldier, politician and Victoria Cross recipient.

Montgomery-Cuninghame served in the Crimean War as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort`s Own). On 20 November 1854 at Sebastopl, the Crimea, he, with another lieutenant at (Claud Thomas Bourchier) was with a party detailed to drive the Russians from some rifle pits. Advancing on the pits after dark they launched a surprise attack and drove the Russian riflemen from their cover, but in the fierce fighting which ensued the officer in command of the party was killed. The two lieutenants, however, maintained their advantage, withstood all attacks from the enemy during the night and held the position until relieved next day. For their actions they were subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.

Montgomery-Cuninghame later achieved the rank of Colonel.

Montgomery-Cuninghame sat as Member of Parliament for Aye Burghs from 1874 to 1880. He died in November 1897, aged 63.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

Robert Humpston VC (1832 – 22 December 1884)

Humpston was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Humpston was about 23 years old, and a private in the 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade ( Prince Consort`s Own ) of the British Army during  during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22 April 1855 in the Crimea Private Humpston and Private Joseph Bradshaw, on their own, attacked and captured a Russian rifle pit situated among the rocks overhanging the Woronzoff Road. The pit was occupied every night by the Russians and its capture and subsequent destruction was of great importance.

Following his death in 1884 Robert Humpston was buried in a pauper’s grave. In September 2007, following a two year campaign to raise £1,200 to get a headstone for Pte Humpston, his grave was dedicated in a ceremony at Nottingham Cemetery.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

John Simpson Knox VC
Brevet Major John Simpson Knox VC (30th September 1828 – 8th January 1897) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and military career

Born in Glasgow on 30th September 1828, Knox joined the British Army at the age of 14. He was under-age, but was unusually tall, he was promoted to corporal before reaching the age of 18.

Crimean War

By the time of the Crimean War he was serjeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards (now called simply the Scots Guards). The British and French forces began to land on the Crimean Peninsula on 14th September 1854. On 19th September the combined forces moved off toward Sebastopol and on 20th September came the first major engagement of the campaign, the Battle of the Alma.
The Scots Fusilier Guards were part of the 1st Division, brigaded with 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, the division’s other brigade was the Highland Brigade. The division was at the extreme left of the Allied line (furthest inland), and initially in reserve to the Light Division. The two divisions halted a short distance before the Alma River, the Russians having taken up defensive positions just the other side of river. Here, on the further side of the river the British troops faced first fording the river itself, climbing the bank on its far side, then after a small amount of level ground, a further relatively low, but steep bank, and then a gradual upward slope, at the top of which the Russians had built an earthworks armed with artillery. The British contingents were ordered forward at about 14:45, the French having managed to force a crossing further downstream, near the river’s mouth. The Light Division crossed first, but were thrown into confusion by the Russian artillery, and began to withdraw. The Guards’ Brigade was ordered forward, and crossed the river. The battalions began re-establishing their ranks on the other side having scrambled up both of the banks on that side of the river. The brigadier ordered them forward without delay, and the Scots, in the middle of the Guards’ line obeyed. They began their advance, but the retreating troops of the Light Division broke their line, and some of the Scots Guards joined the retreat. Officers and others, prominent among them Knox, regained control, and rallied much of the battalion. It was this action which was the first of those for which he was eventually awarded the VC. Four other Scots Guards were also to be awarded the VC for their actions that day. In a letter to his family, he described the battle:

The scene that met my gaze was the most awful description: it made me shudder. The bodies of our opponents were so thick on the ground that for some distance I had to go on tiptoe to pass without touching … the enemy cheered, and endeavoured to drive us back; however, we stuck to them until we were masters.

He was commissioned (without purchase) into the 93rd Regiment of Foot as an ensign on 27 February 1855. On 20 April 1855 he was transferred to the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) as a lieutenant, and his original commission was backdated to 5 November 1854.

On 18th June 1855, Knox volunteered for the ladder party in the attack on the Redan, an attempt to finish the Siege of Sevastopol, he was struck by a Russian cannonball, removing part of his left arm. His actions that day also contributed toward his receiving the VC. His Crimea Medal shows that he also fought at the Battle of Balaclava and the Battle of Inkerman.

On 29th January 1856 Queen Victoria signed the warrant creating the Victoria Cross with the intention of rewarding acts of valour in the Crimean War. Knox’s own VC was not gazetted until 24th February 1857, by which time he had already been made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by an Imperial decree of 16 June 1856. His VC citation read:

War Office, 24th February, 1857.

THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the Decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Men of Her Majesty’s Navy and Marines, and Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men of Her Majesty’s Army, who have been recommended to Her Majesty for that Decoration,—in accordance with the rules laid down in Her Majesty’s Warrant of the 29th of January, 1856—on account of acts of bravery performed by them before the Enemy during the late War, as recorded against their several names, viz. :—
2nd Bat. Rifle Brigade Lieutenant John Knox

When serving as a Serjeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards, Lieutenant Knox was conspicuous for his exertions in reforming the ranks of the Guards at the Battle of the Alma.
Subsequently, when in the Rifle Brigade, he volunteered for the ladder-party in the attack on the Redan, on the 18th of June, and (in the words of Captain Blackett, under whose command he was) behaved admirably, remaining on the field until twice wounded.

He was among the 62 men at the first presentation of the VC, made by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1857. His action at the Alma was the earliest for which a VC was awarded to a member of the British Army—earlier actions leading to the award of a VC were carried out by members of the Royal Navy.

Later life

Despite the loss of his arm, he continued to serve, and was appointed an Instructor of Musketry on 7th January 1858, and promoted captain on 30th April. On 15th June 1866 he was appointed Inspector of Musketry for the South Western District. He briefly returned to regimental duties from 22nd January 1872, and on his retirement from the army on 8th June 1872 was granted a brevet majority. He took up residence at Cheltenham where he died on 8th January 1897, and was buried in the town’s cemetery where three other VC recipients also lie.

Sale of medals

In March 2010 it was announced that his VC is to be sold at auction in May by medal and coin specialists Spink’s, with an estimated price of £100,000–120,000. His VC was sold along with his Crimean War campaign medals, insignia of the Légion d’honneur, and the Russian cannonball which caused the partial loss of his left arm at the Redan. No details of the current owner have been given. The sale took place on 22nd April 2010 with the medal and the cannonball being sold for £252,000 ($387,500) to an anonymous buyer.

Roderick McGregor VC (1822 – 9 August 1888) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

McGregor was about 31 years old, and a private in the 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade ( Prince Consort`s Own ) of the British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

In July 1855 at the Quarries, Crimea, a bandsman going to fetch water from a well in front of the advanced trench, was killed. A number of men at once rushed out determined to drive the Russian riflemen from the pits which they occupied. Private McGregor and two others were the first to reach the Russians, whom they drove out, killing some. Private McGregor was employed as a sharpshooter in the advance trenches before Sebastopol. He crossed an open space under fire and, taking cover under a rock, dislodged two Russians who were occupying a rifle-pit.

The official citation was as follows:

” For courageous conduct when employed as a sharpshooter in the advanced trenches in the month of July, 1855; a Rifle Pit was occupied by two Russians, who annoyed our troops by their fire. Private McGregor crossed the open space under fire, and taking cover under a rock, dislodged them, and occupied the pit.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

Francis Wheatley VC, DCM (1826 – 21 May 1865) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, which he won for his actions during the Crimean War. It is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Wheatley was born in Riddington, Nottinghamshire,  his father was a frame work knitter, a trade which Francis took up before joining the army. He was enlisted at Daventry on 5 November 1839 (for a bounty of £3.17s.6d) into the 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade ( Prince Consort`s Own ), of the British Army.

He was awarded his Victoria Cross for duty in the Crimean War on 12 October 1854. The day before his VC action, another act of gallantry earned him the Distinguished Conduct  Medal. The citation reads: On 12 October 1854 Wheatley and some other Riflemen were occupying a section of the trenches before Sevastopol when a live Russian shell fell amongst the men. Without hesitation Wheatley seized hold of the shell and endeavoured to knock the fuse out with the butt of his rifle. He was unsuccessful at the first attempt and so, with great presence of mind and deliberation he managed somehow to heave it over the parapet of the trench. It had scarcely fallen outside when it exploded. Had it not been for his coolness, presence of mind and supreme courage and discipline, the shell would have inevitably exploded amongst the party causing serious casualties, but instead not a man was hurt.

His VC was presented by Queen Victoria in person at the first investiture at Hyde Park London on 26 June 1857.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum in the former Peninsula Barracks

By Julie-Ann Rosser

Sourced from Wikipedia

original source from www.thegazette.co.uk