19 September 2010

Victoria Cross: T. O'Hea


Private, 1st Battalion the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade

Born: 1846, Bantry, County Cork, Ireland
Died: November 1874, in the desert of Queensland, Australia

Citation: THE Queen having been graciously pleased, by a Warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual, bearing date the 10th of August, 1858, to direct that the decoration of the Victoria Cross shall be conferred, subject to the rules and ordinances already made and ordained for the government thereof, on Officers and Men of Her Majesty's Naval and Military Services who may perform acts of conspicuous courage and bravery under circumstances of extreme danger, such as the occurrence of a fire on board ship, or of the foundering of a vessel at sea, or under any other circumstances in which, through the courage and devotion displayed, life or public property may be saved:--Her Majesty has accordingly been pleased to signify Her intention to confer this high distinction on the under-mentioned Private Soldier, whose claim to the same has been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for his courageous conduct in Canada, as recorded against his name; viz:
For his courageous conduct on the occasion of a Fire which occurred in a Railway Car containing ammunition, between Quebec and Montreal, on the 9th of June last [1866]. The Serjeant in charge of the Escort states that, when at Danville Station, on the Grand Trunk Railway, the alarm was given that the Car was on fire; it was immediately disconnected, and, whilst considering what was best to be done, Private O'Hea took the keys from his hand, rushed to the Car, opened it, and called out for water and a ladder. It is stated that it was due to his example that the fire was suppressed.

[London Gazette issue 23204 dated 1 Jan 1867, published 1 Jan 1867.]

Note: Private O'Hea is the only person to have been awarded the Victoria Cross for service in Canada. He died of thirst whilst a member of a party searching the Australian desert for looking for a reported survivor of the Ludwig Leichhardt expedition, which had been lost in 1848. See here and here.

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