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



Switched Identity?


The Cabinet Photograph


In 1992, radio producer John Armstrong made contact with Victoria Cross researcher Victor Tambling of Birmingham, England, an expert on the eight forfeited VCs. What Victor Tambling had to tell him was astonishing and subsequently became the focus of Armstrong's radio documentary "Switched Identity," first broadcast by BBC Radio Bristol.

Mr Tambling showed Armstrong a small sepia "cabinet photograph," taken in London by Thomas Fall of Baker St, of a man purported to be Edward St John Daniel. Tambling had bought the photograph from a reputable dealer as a portrait of Daniel. The same image is also found in the Imperial War Museum and National Army Museum files on Edward St John Daniel, which were originally collated by leading VC researcher, the late Canon William Lummis.

What made no sense at all was that although the cabinet photograph bore an uncanny likeness to the known portrait of Daniel in uniform, it was of a man apparently in his mid to late thirties, or forties.

Subsequent research at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television revealed that the photograph was certainly taken in London after 1865 (when Daniel was in New Zealand) but more than likely after 1875 (seven years after Daniel's presumed death).

It is known that Canon Lummis had himself obtained a copy of the cabinet photograph prior to 1956, before he became aware that there was an earlier photograph of Daniel in uniform, and before he discovered that Daniel had died at Hokitika in 1868. Unfortunately Lummis does not say how or from whom he obtained the cabinet photograph.

In May 2001, a new documentary on the life and career of Edward St John Daniel was broadcast on New Zealand national television, as part of the very popular "Epitaph" series, hosted by Paul Gittins. The producers had sought the expertise of Dr Tim Koelmeyer, a leading forensic pathologist, to carry out a photographic comparison of the bone structure indicated in the uniform portrait and in the later cabinet photograph. When the two images were superimposed and carefully compared, Dr Koelmeyer reports:

"I think there's quite a remarkable result here with the superimposition. If one particularly concentrates on the position of the eyes, the eye sockets, the jaw and so on - Well, I'm quite convinced that the portrait and the photograph are one and the same person".

The Cabinet Photograh
The cabinet photograph
purported  to be of
Edward St John Daniel

Photo courtesy of
Victor Tambling

Edward St John Daniel c.1860
Edward St John Daniel
(c. 1860)

Composite Photo
Composite photograph
(by Michael Daniels)

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