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£100,000 tag on early Crimea VC


Lantern Swinger
From today's Telegraph. The article doesn't make it clear, but the Leading Stoker accompanying Cdr Bythesea was also awarded the VC for this action.

£100,000 tag on early Crimea VC
Last Updated: 2:05am BST 05/04/2007

One of the earliest Victoria Crosses presented to a British Serviceman is to be sold.

Commander John Bythesea's honour was presented for his bravery during the Crimean War when he led a raid to capture important dispatches sent by the Tsar of Russia.

In August 1854 Commander Bythesea, later a rear-admiral, was serving on the frigate Arrogant stationed in the Baltic when he volunteered to take on the mission.

He convinced the ship's captain, Hastings Yelverton, that a large force would attract too much attention and jeopardise the mission. So he recruited a lone stoker, William Johnstone, to help him.

The two went ashore to an island and, after enlisting the help of a farmer, ambushed the Russian couriers. They captured the dispatches armed with a single pistol.

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

The medals are made from bronze taken from cannon captured at Sebastopol during the Crimean war.

The VC was instituted in 1856 but made retrospective to recognise the bravery of Servicemen during the Crimean War of 1854 to 1855. Commander Bythesea became the second Serviceman to receive his medal from Queen Victoria at the first investiture for VC recipients at the ceremony held in Hyde Park in June 1857.

The medal will be sold by the auctioneer Spink on April 19 and could fetch up to £100,000.

Further information on this episode from the RN Museum here:
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