1 July 2011

Following his heroic action during the Indian Mutiny in 1857, Midshipman Arthur Mayo, Indian Navy ( Naval Brigade ), was invalided home in 1860 and pensioned off on the 28th November 1862. Over the next three years Arthur Mayo attended Magdalene Hall, Oxford, graduating BA on the 18th June 1865. The following year Mayo was ordained Deacon at Salisbury for the Bishop of Exeter and served as assistant curate in Plymouth for about twenty months, but on the 5th November 1867 he was received into the Catholic Church and thereafter lived successively at Torquay and Malta.

In 1901 Arthur Mayo came to live with his youngest daughter Margaret at 23 Rosebury Road, Bournemouth, and for the next nineteen years until his death in 1920, aged 80, was an active member of Corpus Christi Church in Boscombe, being the church's volunteer organist for a number of years. In 1931 the Lady Chapel in Corpus Christi Church was rebuilt incorporating three tall clear windows, one of them inscribed "ORATE PRO ANIMA ARTHURI MAYO VC" ( Pray for the soul of Arthur Mayo VC ) to commemorate his life.

Margaret Mayo continued to live in Rosebury Road until her own death in the early 1950s. It was a companion of Margaret's, a Mrs Bella Bygrave whose recollections in 1988 stated that Arthur Mayo's Victoria Cross had initially been offered to Stonyhurst College, a Catholic Training College, in 1931, but was not accepted because Mayo was not an Old Boy. Mrs Bygrave, who as Miss Bella Doyle in 1931, recalled that at that time an approach was made by the Museum of Bombay requesting if the museum could have the Arthur Mayo Victoria Cross in return for making a donation to the re-building of the Corpus Christi Church Lady Chapel. The Chapel re-building was completed in August 1932 and by inference it was assumed the gift of the VC to the Bombay Museum took place then.

Recent research has disproved the assumption that the Bombay Museum holds the Victoria Cross awarded to Midshipman Arthur Mayo. Confirmation has been received from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya ( formerly the Prince of Wales's Museum of Western India, Bombay ) that they do not hold, nor have they ever held, the Arthur Mayo Victoria Cross. Neither has the Maritime History Society of Bombay. Also, Corpus Christi Church has no record that funds were provided by the Bombay Museum for the re-building of the Lady Chapel.

In conclusion, it can be assumed that the whereabouts of the Victoria Cross and Indian Mutiny Medal awarded to Midshipman Arthur Mayo is unknown.

Born on the 18th May 1840 and following his education at Berkhampstead School, Arthur Mayo joined the Royal Navy and in 1855 sailed for India in HMS 'Wellesley' in which he served as a midshipman. Confessing to being unaware of the existence of the Indian Navy, Mayo joined the service on the 18th February 1857, and served for a short while on the steam frigate 'Punjab', ferrying the 64th Regiment from Bombay to Calcutta.

In June 1857 the 'Punjab' sent part of the 4th Indian Naval Brigade, which included Arthur Mayo, ashore in Calcutta, which immediately travelled up country to disarm the mutineering Bengal Artillery ( Native ) and the 73rd Native Infantry at Dacca.

A Despatch by Lieutenant T.E. Lewis, Command No. 4 Detachment, Indian Naval Brigade, dated 22nd November 1857.

"I proceeded to disarm the sepoys stationed at Dacca. We marched down to the Lall Bagh and on entering the lines found the sepoys drawn up by their magazine with two 8-pounders in the centre.

Immediately after we deployed into line they opened fire on us from front and left flank with canister and musketry. We gave them one volley, and then charged with the bayonet up hill and carried the whole of the barracks on the top of it, breaking the doors with our musket-butts and bayoneting the sepoys inside. As soon as this was done, we charged down hill, and taking them in flank, carried both their guns and all the buildings, driving them into the jungle.

Everyone, both officers and men, behaved most gallantly, charging repeatedly in the face of most heavy fire without the slightest hesitation for a moment. I beg particularly to bring to notice the conduct of Mr. Midshipman Arthur Mayo, who led the last charge on their guns most gallantly, being nearly 20 yards in front of the men."

A Despatch dated 4th December 1857, from the Secretary to the Government of India to the Senior Officer of the Indian Navy, states that the Governor General in Council ...... "desires me to request that you will convey to Lieutenant Lewis, and to the officers and men under his command, the thanks of the Government of India for the gallant manner in which they performed their duty. His Lordship in Council notices, with approbation, the conduct of Mr. Midshipman Mayo in leading a charge against the enemy's guns." For these services Mr. Mayo was awarded the Victoria Cross, which he won when he was just seventeen and a half years of age. [ London Gazette 25th February 1862 ]

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 25 February 1862 ], Dacca, Indian Mutiny, 22 November 1857, Midshipman Arthur Mayo, Indian Navy ( Naval Brigade ).

For having headed the charge on the 22nd November 1857, in the engagement between the Indian Naval Brigade and the mutineers of the 73rd Native Infantry, and Bengal Artillery, when the former was ordered to charge 2 six-pounders which were keeping up a heavy fire. Mr Mayo was nearly 20 yards in front of anyone else during the advance. .

It is believed Arthur Mayo received his Victoria Cross by registered post.

Medal entitlement of Midshipman Arthur Mayo - Indian Naval Brigade

  • Victoria Cross
  • Indian Mutiny Medal - ( 1857-58 )


Go to VC UK flag Home Page

Iain Stewart, 1 July 2011