10 November 2010

The Victoria Cross, Orders, decorations and campaign medals awarded to Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon, have been sold at auction by Spink of London. The auction took place on Thursday, 22nd July 2010 and the sale of the VC realised a hammer price of £190,000. The VC was purchased by the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC collection.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon,
Royal Navy ( Naval Brigade )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath ( GCB )
  • Baltic Medal ( 1854-55 )
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Relief of Lucknow" - "Lucknow"
  • Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Medal ( 1897 )
  • King Edward VII Coronation Medal ( 1902 )
  • King George V Coronation Medal ( 1911 )

Following the successful taking of the Secundrabagh at Lucknow, Sir Colin Campbell was determined to smash through the hard edge of the enemy's defences before dusk by ordering the 93rd Regiment, and the composite battalion, supported by the heavy guns of the naval brigade, to attack the Shah Najaf mosque. This was a tougher nut to crack than the Secundrabagh, for the domed mosque lay within an enclosure surrounded by a loopholed wall, the entrance to which had been blocked with masonry.

The plan was that Captain William Peel VC, RN, would bring the heavy guns of his naval brigade to point-blank range and blast a gap in the perimeter wall, covered by the 93rd Regiment and the composite battalion, who would then storm the enclosure and the mosque.

The walls proved to be remarkably tough, and it did not help that four of the guns had switched their fire against a large crowd of rebels firing from a nearby collection of mud huts. So heavy was the fire from the walls of the mosque falling onto the naval brigade's gun crews that Lieutenant Nowell Salmon, Leading Seaman John Harrison and an able seaman climbed a tree, the branches of which were actually touching the wall, and began to pick off the rebel snipers and bomb throwers. The able seaman was killed and Salmon was shot in the thigh, but their action probably saved the naval gun crews firing at the wall from complete annihilation.

On this specific day, the 16th November 1857, seventeen Victoria Crosses were awarded; six to the 93rd Regiment; four, Royal Navy ( Naval Brigade ); three, 53rd Regiment; two, 90th Regiment; and one each to the Madras Fusiliers and Bengal Fusiliers.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 24 December 1858 ], Shah Najaf Mosque, Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 16 November 1857, Lieutenant Nowell Salmon, Royal Navy ( Naval Brigade ).

For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on the 16th of November 1857, in climbing up a tree, touching the angle of the Shah Nujjiff, to reply to the fire of the enemy, for which most dangerous service, the late Captain Peel KCB, had called for volunteers.

Nowell Salmon was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on the 8th June 1859

Captain Salmon was made A.D.C. to Queen Victoria from 1874 to 1879, and in 1882, after being promoted Rear-Admiral, was made Commander-in-Chief at the Cape of Good Hope for three years. A further appointment in 1887 to 1891 was Commander-in-Chief in China, and upon achieving the rank of Admiral became Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth from 1894 to 1897 where he was in command of the Review held at Spithead in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon died on the 14th February 1912 in his 77th year and was buried in St Peter's Churchyard, Curdridge, Hampshire.


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Iain Stewart, 10 November 2010