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



Switched Identity?


Jack London

If Edward St John Daniel returned to England, this begs the question what became of him? An intriguing possibility, that could lend support to Victor Tambling's theory, is found in the writings of the celebrated American author Jack London.


In 1902, Jack London toured the East End of London interviewing various characters in the slums and workhouses. In 1903 he published an account of his observations and interviews in "The People of the Abyss".

 Chapter 7, entitled "A Winner of the Victoria Cross," describes meeting an elderly man who claimed to have joined the Navy as a boy, to have served in China, Burma, the Crimea and Indian Mutiny, to have won the Victoria Cross, and to have sailed the globe. The man then relates an incident in which he was insulted by a Lieutenant, who called him a name that referred to his mother. Enraged, the man struck the Lieutenant with an iron bar, who then fell into the sea. Jumping in after him, determined to drown them both, the two men ended up fighting in the water. For this action, he was court-martialled, stripped of the Victoria Cross and pension rights, and sent to prison.


The People of the Abyss

Although Jack London's version of events does not match precisely the career of Edward St John Daniel (e.g., Daniel was arrested but not sent to prison), the number of coincidences in the story is remarkable. It is also interesting that one account of Daniel's "disgraceful offence" is that he attempted to drown a fellow officer.

If the man's story about winning and losing the Victoria Cross is true, he could only be Edward St John Daniel. Who, then, is the man buried at Hokitika? According to Victor Tambling, it may be Robert Daniels.


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