Royal Marines

Victoria Cross


1856. Tuesday 29th January. The Victoria Cross medal was introduced by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol. Recent research has thrown doubt on this story, suggesting a variety of origins. Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal can reach over £400,000 at auction. There are a number of public and private collections devoted to it most notably that of Lord Ashcroft, which contains over one tenth of the total VC's awarded. It was made retrospective from Tuesday 1st August 1854.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour 'in the face of the enemy' to members of the armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire Territories. It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command, and is presented to the recipient by the British monarch during an investiture held at Buckingham Palace. It is the joint highest award for bravery in the United Kingdom with the George Cross, which is the equivalent honour for valour not in the face of the enemy. However, the VC is higher in order of precedence and would be worn first by an individual who had been awarded both decorations (which has not so far occurred).

The following is a list of Royal Marines who have been awarded the Victoria Cross. (as of January 2017) So far 10 VC's have been awarded to Royal Marines.

Corporal John Prettyjohn kM 2nd November 1854 - Crimea Reported for gallantry at the Battle of Inkerman, having led his section to an advanced position, shot four Russian marksmen.
Bombardier Thomas Wilkinson RMA 5th June 1855 - Crimea Specially recommended for gallant conduct in the advanced Batteries in placing sandbags to repair damage to revetments under galling fire during the siege of Sebastopol.


John PrettyJohn


Thomas Wilkinson, RMA, VC, Leg.d'Hon, awarded his VC for his actions on 7th Jun 1855 before Sebastopol. Crimean War Victoria Cross Recipient. He received the award from British Queen Victoria during the first investiture of the Victoria Cross at Hyde Park, London England on June 26, 1857 for his actions as a bombardier in the Royal Marine Artillery, British Royal Marines, on June 7, 1855 at Sebastopol, Crimea during the Crimean War. Born in York, North Yorkshire, England, he joined the British Royal Marines in 1847 and was discharged in 1871, having achieved the rank of sergeant instructor. He died in York around the age of 56. His Victoria Cross citation reads: "On 7 June 1855 at Sebastopol, Crimea, Bombardier Wilkinson was especially recommended for gallant conduct with the advanced batteries. He worked at the task of placing sandbags to repair damage done to the defences under a most galling fire." In addition to the Victoria Cross, he also received the Crimean War Medal (with three campaign clasps) and the French Legion of Honor. His Victoria Cross is on display at the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea, Hampshire, England. (Bio by: William Bjornstad)


Thomas Wilkinsonen.


Lieutenant George Dare Dowell RMA 13th July 1855 - Viborg. Baltic Sea An explosion having occurred in one of the rocket-boats of the Arrogant, Lieut. Dowell jumped into a quarter-boat with three volunteers, himself pulling the stroke oar, and proceeded under a heavy fire of grape and musketry, to the assistance of a beleaguered cutter's crew bringing them off safely.


George Dare Dowell


Captain Lewis Stratford Tollemache Halliday RMLI 24th June 1900 - Peking Legations - Boxer Rebellion During a fierce Boxer attack on the west wall of the British Legation in Peking, Capt. Halliday led twenty Marines and engaged the enemy. Before he could use his revolver, however, he was shot through the left shoulder, at point blank range, the bullet fracturing the shoulder and carrying away part of the lung. Notwithstanding the extremely severe nature of his wound, he killed three of his assailants, and told his men 'to carry on and not mind him', while he walked back unaided to the hospital.


Captain Lewis Stratford Tollmache Halliday


Lance-Corporal Walter Richard Parker RMLI 1st May 1915 - Portsmouth Battalion - Gallipoli Whilst in charge of the battalion stretcher bearers he displayed conspicuous gallantry under heavy and accurate enemy fire in leading his men to recover casualties. He reached a forward trench which had to be evacuated and Parker helped to remove and attend the wounded, although he himself was seriously wounded during this operation.


Lance-Corporal Walter Richard Parker


Major Francis John William Harvey RMLI 31st May 1916 - HMS Lion - Battle of Jutland Whilst mortally wounded and almost the only survivor after the explosion of an enemy shell in 'Q' gun house, with great presence of mind and devotion to duty he ordered the magazine to be flooded, thereby saving the ship. He died shortly afterwards.


Major Francis John William Harvey


Major Frederick William Lumsden VC, CB,DSO &Three bars. DSO, RMA April 1917 - Western Front He personally led four artillery teams and a party of infantry through a hostile barrage to recover six enemy guns. By force of example and inspiring energy he succeeded in sending back two teams with guns, going through the barrage with the teams for the third gun. He then returned to await further teams, and with these he succeeded in attaching to two of the three remaining guns, despite rifle fire, which had become intense at short range, and removed the guns to safety. During actions on the Western Front in 1917/18 Lumsden was awarded the CL the 050 and 3 bars, besides his VC. He was killed in action in 1918.


Major Frederick William Lumsden


Captain Edward Bamford DSO RMLI 23 April 1918 - 4th Battalion RMLI - Zeebrugge He landed on the mole from Vindictive with numbers 5, 7 and 9 Platoons of the Marine storming force, in the face of great difficulties. When on the mole and under heavy fire, he displayed the greatest initiative in the command of his company, and by his total disregard for danger showed a magnificent example to his men. He first established a strong point and, when satisfied that it was safe, led an assault on a battery to the left with utmost coolness and bravery.


Captain Edward Bamford


Sergeant Norman Augustus Finch RMA 23rd April 1918 - RMA Detachment - Zeebrugge Sgt Finch was second-in-command of the pompoms and Lewis guns in the foretop of Vindictive. During one period the Vindictive was being hit every few seconds, chiefly in the upper works, from which splinters caused many casualties. It was difficult to locate the guns which were doing most of the damage, but Sgt Finch and Marines in the foretop kept up a continuous fire with pompoms and Lewis guns, changing rapidly from one target to another, and thus keeping the enemy's fire down to some considerable extent. Two heavy shells made direct hits on the foretop and all there were killed or disabled except Sergeant Finch, who was, however, severely wounded; nevertheless, he showed consummate bravery, remaining in his battered and exposed position. He once more got a pompom into action, and kept up a continuous fire, harassing the enemy on the mole. Before the top was destroyed Sergeant Finch had done invaluable work, and by his bravery had undoubtedly saved many lives. Capt. Bamford and Sergeant Finch were selected by the members of the 4th Battalion to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29th January 1856.


Sergean Norman August Finch


Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter kM 3rd April 1945 - 43 (RM) Commando - Lake Comacchio Whilst advancing across open ground he observed the enemy holding a group of houses. Realising they would cause heavy casualties as soon as they opened fire, Cpl Hunter seized the Bren gun and charged alone across 200 yards of open ground. Three Spandaus from the houses, and at least six from the north bank of the canal, opened fire and at the same time enemy mortars started to fire at his Troop. Cpl Hunter attracted most of the fire, and so determined was his charge and his firing from the hip that the enemy in the houses became demoralised. Showing complete disregard, for the intense enemy fire, he ran through the houses, changing magazines as he ran, and alone cleared the houses. Six Germans surrendered to him and the remainder fled across a footbridge on to the north bank of the canal. The Troop dashing up behind Cpl Hunter now became the target for all the Spandaus on the north of the canal. Again, offering himself as a target, he lay in full view of the enemy on a heap of rubble and fired at the concrete pillboxes on the other side. He again drew most of the fire, but by now the greater part of the Troop had made for the safety of the houses. During this period, he shouted encouragement to the remainder, and called only for more Bren magazines with which he could engage the Spandaus. Firing with great accuracy up to the last, Cpl Hunter was finally hit in the head by a burst of Spandau fire and killed instantly.


Corporal Thomas P Hunter VC