The 1st VC awarded to a British soldier for sale.

One for Lord Ashford?

THE first Victoria Cross awarded to a soldier in the British Army is expected to fetch £120,000 when it is sold at auction.

Glasgow-born Major John Simpson Knox was given the medal by Queen Victoria on June 26, 1857, for his exceptional heroism during the Crimean War.

Victoria gave 62 servicemen the VC during the ceremony in London's Hyde Park, which was the first time the medal had been awarded.

Major Knox led troops in Alma, Sebastopol, Balaklava and Inkerman between 1854 and 1856, the first few engagements to be considered for a VC.

He was awarded the medal for leading assaults against Russian troops in two separate battles, losing his arm in the second.

And the cannonball that blasted his arm off is also going under the hammer alongside his VC.

Medal specialist Oliver Pepys said the medal was of massive historical importance.

He said: "This is the first Victoria Cross ever handed to a soldier of the British Army.

"Major Knox showed incredible bravery, leading two assaults from the trenches on Russian troops, losing his arm to cannon fire in the process.

"The lot is fascinating. The medal is being sold with a Russian cannonball, the very one that smashed into Knox's arm at the Battle of Sebastopol.

"In all my years of working with rare medals and war artifacts, I have never seen a more unusual keepsake - it is truly extraordinary.

"We have researched the circumstances around the loss of Major Knox's arm and have discovered a fellow soldier picked up the ball and gave it to him as a memento.

"This medal is of huge historical significance. The Victoria Cross is still the highest honour a soldier can receive.

"It is only given for exceptional acts of valour in the face of enemy forces."

The soldier was awarded the medal as a sergeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards after he volunteered to lead the charge against Russian troops.

During the Battle of Alma, Knox took part in the storming and capture of a heavily guarded sandbag battery,single-handedly fighting off a party of enemy soldiers.

He lost his arm at the Battle of Sebastopol a year later, while leading the charge over the trenches.

The medal goes on sale at Spink Auction House in London on April 22 and is expected to fetch up to £120,000.

It is being sold alongside three other medals Knox was awarded, the Crimean Medal, the French Legion of Honour and the Turkish Crimean medal.

Knox recorded his experiences in Crimea in a number of letters which he pasted into a scrap-book that was later found and published.

In the letters, he describes his horrifying experiences at the Battle of Alma. He said: "The scene that met my gaze was the most awful description. It made me shudder.

"The bodies of our opponents were so thick on the ground that for some distance I had to go on tiptoe to pass without touching the bodies.

"Our position is situated on the top and right of the hill.

"On leaving it the enemy cheered, and endeavoured to drive us back; however, we stuck to them until we were masters."

As Knox was exceptionally tall, he managed to join the Scots Fusilier Guards at the age of 14 and quickly rose through the ranks.

By 1846, he had already been promoted to corporal - while still being underage - and at the time of the Crimean War he had been promoted to commanding officer at the exceptionally young age of 26.

Major Knox died at home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on January 8, 1897, aged 68, and was buried in the town's cemetery.
Interesting story but the actual first recipent of the Victoria Cross was Charles Davis Lucas.


Book Reviewer
Presumably Michael Ashcroft's trust will be bidding for it.
stacker1 said:
Interesting story but the actual first recipent of the Victoria Cross was Charles Davis Lucas.
Agreed, I have just been reading his citation, hoofing the bomb over the side of HMS Hecla then immediately promoted to Lieutenant by his CO. (I shall resist a cheap shot about the Royal Navy then, and the ipod generation now)
IIRC the first VC for the army was to Sergeant Luke O'Connor of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers for actions at the battle of the Alma.
Sorry to quote the Daily Hate, but it is worth reading just for the extracts of the recipient's diary.


On loosing most of his arm to a 2" cannon shot, in true Victorian era fashion one of his officers points out the fact in case he hadn't noticed. His response "I fancy I am".

I would have been screaming like a jessie!

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