02 January 2011

Victoria Cross: J. E. Commerell and W. T. Rickard


Commander, Royal Navy; commanding HMS Weser

Born: 13 January 1829, Grosvener Square, Central London
Died: 21 May 1901, Hyde Park, London

Citation: "When commanding the 'Weser,' in the Sea of Azoff, crossed the Isthmus of Arabat, and destroyed large quantities of forage on the Crimean shore of the Sivash."
This enterprise was performed by Commander Commerell [on 11 October 1855], at night, accompanied by William Rickard, Quartermaster, and George Milestone, A.B. Having hauled their small boat across the Spit of Arabat, they traversed the Sivash to the Crimean shore of the Putrid Sea. The magazine of corn, of which they were in search, lay about two miles and a-half off, and to reach it they had to ford two rivers, the Kara-Su and the Salghir. The forage and corn, amounting to 400 tons, were stacked on the banks of the latter river, in the vicinity of a guard-house, and close to from twenty to thirty mounted Cossacks, who were encamped in the neighbouring village. Commander Commerell and his two companions contrived to ignite the stacks, the rapid blazing of which alarmed the guard, who pursued them to the shore with a heavy fire of musketry, and very nearly succeeded in taking them prisoners.
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th November, 1855, No. 899.)

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]


Quartermaster, Royal Navy; HMS Weser

Born: 10 February 1828, Stoke Damerel, Devon
Died: 21 February 1905, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Citation: "Accompanied his Commander, Lieutenant Commerell, of the 'Weser,' to the Crimean shore of the Sivash [on 11 October 1855], and, whilst under a heavy fire of musketry, remained to assist George Milestone, who had fallen."
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th November, 1855, No. 899).
The service performed by William Rickard is thus described by Commander Commerell, in his despatch:--"I must bring to your notice the excellent conduct of the small party who accompanied me, more especially that of William Rickard, Quartermaster, who, though much fatigued himself, remained to assist the other seaman, who, from exhaustion, had fallen in the mud, and was unable to extricate himself, notwithstanding the enemy were keeping up a heavy fire on us, at the distance of thirty or forty yards, as we crossed the mud."

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]

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