05 December 2010

Victoria Cross: Douglas, Murphy, Cooper, Bell and Griffiths


Assistant-Surgeon, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment

Born: 5 August 1840, Quebec City, Canada
Died: 31 December 1909, Wells, Somerset


Private, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment

Born: 1839, Dublin, Ireland
Died: 23 March 1899, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States


Private, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment

Born: September 1940, Birmingham, Warwickshire
Died: 9 August 1889, Birmingham, Warwickshire


Private, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment

Born: 1845, County Down, Ireland
Died: 7 March 1920, Gillingham, Kent


Private, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment

Born: 1841, County Roscommon, Ireland
Died: 22 January 1879, Isandhlwana, South Africa

Joint Citation: THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officer and Private Soldiers of Her Majesty's Army, whose claims to the same have been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for their gallant conduct at the Little Andaman Island, as recorded against their names, viz.:--
For the very gallant and daring manner in which, on the 7th of May, 1867, they risked their lives in manning a boat and proceeding through a dangerous surf to the rescue of some of their comrades, who formed part of an expedition which had been sent to the Island of Little Andaman, by order of the Chief Commissioner of British Burmah, with the view of ascertaining the fate of the Commander and seven of the crew of the ship "Assam Valley," who had landed there, and were supposed to have been murdered by the natives.
The officer who commanded the troops on the occasion reports: "About an hour later in the day, Dr. Douglas, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, and the four Privates referred to, gallantly manning the second gig, made their way through the surf almost to the shore, but finding their boat was half filled with water, they retired. A second attempt made by Dr. Douglas and party proved successful, five of us being safely passed through the surf to the boats outside. A third and last trip got the whole of the party left on shore safe to the boats."
It is stated that Dr. Douglas accomplished these trips through the surf to the shore by no ordinary exertion. He stood in the bows of the boat, and worked her in an intrepid and seamanlike manner, cool to a degree, as if what he was then doing was an ordinary act of every-day life. The four Privates behaved in an equally cool and collected manner, rowing through the roughest surf when the slightest hesitation or want of pluck on the part of any one of them would have been attended by the gravest results. It is reported that seventeen officers and men were thus saved from what must otherwise have been a fearful risk, if not certainty of death.

[London Gazette issue 23333 dtd 17 Dec 1867, published 17 Dec 1867.]

Note: The Andaman Islands are in the Bay of Bengal, between India and Burma. Most of the islands (including Little Andaman) belong to India, though a few at the northern end of the chain are part of Burma.

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