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


Victoria Cross Award


For three separate acts of bravery, Edward St John Daniel was awarded the newly instituted Victoria Cross in the very first list of citations (London Gazette, 24th February 1857). Daniel's citation reads:

"Sir Stephen Lushington recommends this Officer: - 1st. For answering a call for volunteers to bring in powder to the Battery, from a waggon in a very exposed position under a destructive fire, a shot having disabled the horses. (This was reported by Captain Peel, commanding the Battery at the time.)
2nd. For accompanying Captain Peel at the Battle of Inkermann as Aide-de-camp.
3rd. For devotion to his leader, Captain Peel, on the 18
th June, 1855, in tying a tourniquet on his arm on the glacis of the Redan, whilst exposed to a very heavy fire. (Despatch from Sir S. Lushington inclosed in letter from Admiral Lord Lyons, 10th May, 1856)"

At the time, Daniel was the youngest recipient of the Cross (being just 17 when he won it). Peel also won the VC for three separate actions in the Crimea. Evelyn Wood, nearly a year younger than Daniel, was recommended for the Cross, but was not awarded it. He had left the Royal Navy in 1855 and joined the Army. However, in October 1858, Lieutenant Evelyn Wood won the VC in the Indian Mutiny. He eventually rose to the rank of Field Marshal.

At his speech at the Mansion House on 15th February 1858, Admiral Lord Lyons said:

"All behaved well, but I should doubt whether there is anything in the annals of chivalry that surpasses the conduct of Capt. Peel's Aides-de-camp, Messrs. Daniel and Wood."

Peel himself wrote to his brother, later Sir Frederick Peel:

"the names of these two heroes are known throughout the whole army, and I really sometimes thought it rather inconvenient having two such spirits with me as Messrs. Daniel and Wood."

Neither Daniel nor Peel was present when Queen Victoria made the first investitures of the Victoria Cross at a ceremony in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857. They had been sent to China in the new steam frigate HMS Shannon, which was then diverted to Calcutta in July 1857 on receiving news of the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny.

    Edward St John Daniel's Victoria Cross
Edward St John Daniel's
Victoria Cross

Lord Ashcroft VC Collection

Photo: Michael Daniels

William Peel's Victoria Cross
William Peel's
Victoria Cross

National Maritime
Museum Collection

Photo: Michael Daniels

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