Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Recommended Posts

I have a huge amount of text to post as background to this, but I have forgotten what the workaround is to persuade this board to accept pasted text, and I cannot find the help file that explained it. While I keep looking, here is a VC winner's portrait from about 1860. Anyone know who he is?

Oh, and if anyone knows how to paste text here, please let me know.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems I can cut-and-paste in a reply, so this will have to do!

This infantry Lieutenant of around 1860 is wearing a VC, a Crimea Medal with at least one clasp, an Indian Mutiny Medal (with no clasp?), a French Médaille Militaire and a Turkish Crimea Medal. It follows that he served in the ranks in the Crimea. The photograph is on thin card, with the mark of "J. Gresty's Photographic Studio, Dock St., Fleetwood" [Lancashire] on the back of the mounting card.

I have tried to work out who he is myself, but I am having problems.

I went through the 1860 Army List, looking for infantry Lieutenants with VCs commissioned after 1853, and then checked their names against the recipients of the French Médaille Militaire. No luck.

Then I went through the list of foreign awards for the Crimea in the back of BB&M, generated a short-list of recipients of the Médaille Militaire who also received a VC for the Crimea, and checked to see who was commissioned into an infantry regiment. One man was - but he was first commissioned into a cavalry regiment, and did not join the 104th Bengal Fusiliers until 1871. Besides, he had a multiple-clasp Crimea Medal. So, not Charles Wooden, then.

Double-checking the presence of the photographer, John Gresty, in Dock Street, Fleetwood, the earliest I can confirm him there is 1872, and he remains there until at least 1891. He was born in Manchester around 1841. In 1865, he was in Chester, publishing his own illustrated guide books, so the print must be a little later than I first thought. But can the image be as late as all that? That pattern of tunic was superseded in 1868, and that pattern of shako in 1861, so presumably not. So if the image is no later than 1861, and it can certainly be no earlier than 1859, assuming that really is a Mutiny medal. Even if that is not a Mutiny, the earliest it could be is 1856, so my c. 1860 date seems pretty secure.

The massive enlargement of the shako seems to suggest the badge of the 14th Foot, rather than the 6th or 8th, but whilst that regiment was in Crimea, and did earn single-clasp medals, as well as half-a-dozen Médailles Militaires, it did not deploy to India for the Mutiny. Could that last medal be a New Zealand? Yes, conceivably - and the 14th were there from 1860 to 1866. Sadly, as far as I can see, though, none of their officers had VCs. I thought I was on to something there for a moment.

Looking at the Dress Regulations, the only regiments who were permitted animals rather than numbers on their shako plates at this time were:

2nd Foot - Lamb
3rd Foot - Dragon
4th Foot - Lion
6th Foot - Antelope
8th Foot - White horse
14th Foot - White horse + nec aspera terrent

I can see no sign of the flag carried by the lamb of the Queen's, and the extended forelimb here points downwards, unlike those of the dragon of the Buffs, or the lion of the King's Own. The regiment surely has to be one of the other three. I have double-checked the Army Lists for 1860, 1863 and 1865, and the only VC-winner in 6th, 8th or 14th Foot is Andrew Moynihan, VC, who had a single-clasp Crimea, a Turkish Crimea and a no-clasp Mutiny, was promoted Lieutenant in 1857, but who did not have the Médaille Militaire.

I am stumped. Does anyone have any bright ideas (or corrections for mistaken assumptions) for me?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Update: this must be Lt. (later Captain) Andrew Moynihan, VC, 8th Foot, late 90th Foot. According to his entry in The VC and DSO, quoting the last entry in Hart's Army List before his death in 1867, he had the Médaille Militaire. I cannot find any trace of it being awarded, so he may have awarded it to himself, but at least we have an ID. :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

According to contemporary newspaper reports, Moynihan was selected by his company to receive the French War Medal [sic], and was invested with it at Horse Guards, on 20th May, 1856, by Lord Hardinge. I cannot imagine how his name has been omitted from all the published rolls ever since.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A logical and solid reasoning, I would say.

It is always nice to see such early photos, in particular of a VC recipient.

Did you dive into his service records to reconstruct his career?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now