Michael Daniels
Edward St John Daniel VC
 The story of the first man to forfeit the Victoria Cross



The Life of Edward St John Daniel


HMS Diamond and Captain Peel


On 7th September 1853, Edward St John Daniel joined HMS Diamond, under the celebrated Capt. William Peel, third son of the British statesman Sir Robert Peel (Prime Minister in 1834-1835 and 1841-1846) and founder of the modern police force. The next day, 8th September 1853, Daniel was promoted to Midshipman.

HMS Diamond was sent to the Black Sea in 1854, after the outbreak of the Crimean War, and officers and men from the Diamond formed part of the Naval Brigade, under Capt. Stephen Lushington of HMS Albion, which assisted the Army in the land operations.

Daniel was appointed ADC (Aide-de-camp) to Capt. Peel and was, by all accounts, devoted to his handsome and charismatic leader. In his memoirs, Sir Evelyn Wood, who as a 17 year old Midshipman became Daniel's fellow ADC to Capt. Peel in May 1855, writes:

"I was evidently much struck with Captain Peel's appearance and manners, for I recorded in boyish language, 'Captain Peel, very intelligent, sharp as a needle; I never saw a more perfect gentleman.' His looks and bearing were greatly in his favour, for both in face and figure there was an appearance of what sporting men, in describing well-bred horses, call 'quality' ... Before the first bombardment, Captain Peel asked Lieutenant Ridge and Midshipman Daniels (sic) of H.M.S. Diamond, and Lieutenant Douglas and Midshipman Wood of the Queen, to disregard fire in the battery, by always walking with head up and shoulders back and without undue haste. He himself was a splendid example. I know that he felt acutely every shot which passed over him, but the only visible effect was to make him throw up his head and square his shoulders." (Wood, 1906, pp. 26, 42)

In a letter home from the front, penned on 16th October 1854 (published in the Cambridge Chronicle, 9th December 1854, p. 8, col. 2), Daniel wrote:

"Encamped off the Walls of Sebastopol, Oct. 16,

My dearest * * * I dare say you are surprised that you have not had a line from me, but I have not had a minute to myself for the last month. We are encamped with a thousand of our blue jackets and we have twenty of our guns ashore. We have had a good many shots fired at us, but none of our men (Oct. 16), have been wounded. I am the Captain's aide-de-camp. I have been obliged to provide myself with a horse as we are six miles from Admiral Sir E. Lyons and very often I have to go to him twice a-day, and after that to go in the trenches all night with the Captain. Thank God, our battery will be completed by daylight to morrow. I am very much obliged to you for the pistols. Remember me to all. I wish aunt all happiness. Good bye; God bless you all; and if I am spared will write to you after Sebastopol is taken. - I remain your ever affectionate,


    Capt. William Peel (1855)

Capt. William Peel, RN
(in 1855)

<< Previous          Next >>


 All rights reserved 
 We are not responsible for and do not endorse the content of external sites