1 November 2007

The Crimean War Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Esmonde, 18th Regiment ( later the Royal Irish Regiment ) has been loaned to the Imperial War Museum.

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Esmonde - 18th Regiment ( later Royal Irish Regiment )

  • Victoria Cross
  • India General Service Medal ( 1854-95 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • 'Pegu'
  • Crimea Medal ( 1854-56 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • 'Sebastopol'
  • Turkish Crimea Medal ( 1855-56 )

Buoyed by an earlier success on the 6th June 1855 on the siege of Sebastopol, although suffering terrible casualties, the Allies planned to capitalize immediately. General Raglan and the French commander General Aimable Pélissier agreed that the French should advance on the Malakoff Tower whilst the British attacked the Redan. The attack was planned for 8.00 a.m. on the 18th June, but for some unkown reason, Pélissier decided to bring the French attack forward to 3.00 a.m. leaving Raglan with no option but to bring the British attack forward to fall in line with the French plans.

As the French advanced in chaotic formation - one column had mistaken a signal and advanced at 2.00 a.m. - they were mowed down by the defenders of the Malakoff. The British attack on the Redan took place under the heaviest fire imaginable. The attack on both positions was a disastrous failure: the French suffered three and a half thousand casualties, the British fifteen hundred. Twelve men won the Victoria Cross during the assault on the Redan, many of them for rescuing wounded comrades.

For the award of the Victoria Cross:

[ London Gazette, 25 September 1857 ], Sebastopol, Crimea, 18 June 1855, Captain Thomas Esmonde, 18th Regiment.

For having, after being engaged in the attack on the Redan, repeatedly assisted, at great personal risk under a heavy fire of shell and grape, in rescuing wounded men from exposed situations; and also, while in command of a covering party, two days after, for having rushed with the most prompt and daring gallantry to a spot where a fire-ball from the enemy had just been lodged, which he effectually extinguished, before it had betrayed the position of the working party under his protection, - thus saving it from a murderous fire of shell and grape, which was immediately opened upon the spot where the fire-ball had fallen.

Thomas Esmonde was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Portsmouth on the 2nd August 1858.

When following the 'Kildares', a local hunt in Belgium, in 1872, Esmonde was struck by a branch in his eye as he cleared a thorn fence. The injured eye became badly inflamed and the other eye shortly after became infected. Thomas Esmonde died from his injuries at Bruges on the 14th January 1873, aged 45, and was buried in the Town Cemetery.

( Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Esmonde was the great-uncle of Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde VC, DSO, 825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm ).


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Iain Stewart, 1 November 2007