Courage is that rare and special commodity that leads individuals far beyond their
natural capabilities, to perform acts of selflessness and sacrifice. Of the multitude
of honours and awards claimed by the district, there is none so poignant as the
remembrance of four men who each received a Victoria Cross in recognition of acts
of individual bravery and leadership in military service.
The Victoria Cross, which came into being on January 29th 1856, is rightly regarded as the premier award for bravery. The medal replaced earlier insignia of bravery that made distinctions according to rank or military body. Since its inception, only 1,350 Victoria Crosses have been awarded. The medal is a Maltese Cross of bronze upon which is centred the Royal Crest; below this is the inscription 'For Valour'. On the reverse is inscribed the name of the recipient and the date of their individual act of gallantry.
All medals awarded have been struck from the metal of a Russian canon captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean War. Valueless in terms of financial return the Victoria Cross is given its meaning by the individual act of bravery it commemorates.
In a service on June 26th 1857, Queen Victoria presented the first crosses. The first man ever to receive the honour was Charles Davis Lucas, from Poyntzpass. Since then three other men from the district have been accorded the honour.
CHARLES DAVIS LUCAS
Charles Davis Lucas was born in Druminargale House near Poyntzpass on February 19th 1834. During the British campaign in the Crimea Lucas was serving as a midshipman aboard HMS Hecla. On June 21st 1854 the Hecla came under fire from a Russian fort. During the action a live shell landed on the ship's deck. As all hands dived for cover, the twenty year old Midshipman rushed forward and threw the shell over the rail of the vessel. It exploded even before reaching the water. In doing so, Lucas saved the vessel and its crew from serious injury. Lucas was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the recommendation of British Commander in the Crimea, Sir Charles Napier.
Charles Lucas continued in the navy and eventually attained the rank of Rear Admiral. He died at Great Culverden, Kent, on August 7th 1914. A memorial was erected to his memory in the church of St.Lawerence, Kent. His Victoria Cross is in the care of the National Maritime Museum.
SIR FREDERICK FRANCIS MAUDE
Born at Lisnadill on December 29th 1821 Frederick Maude was the son of the Honourable John Charles Maude, Rector of St.John's Church of Ireland, Lisnadill. At the time of the Crimea campaign Maude was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 3rd East Kent Regiment. On September 5th 1855 he led a ladder party on the Redan Fortress in the Crimea. Though the ladder party took hold of the fortress support dwindled and the party was forced to retreat, during which time Maude was seriously injured. For his leadership and personal bravery Maude was awarded the Victoria Cross and the Legion D'Honneur.
Frederick Maude continued in the military and was promoted to the rank of General. From 1867-1873 he was Inspector General of the militia in Ireland. He was the cousin of another Victoria Cross holder Colonel Francis Cornwallis Maude and his son, Lieutenant Sir Stanley Maude took command of the British forces in Mesopotamia during the First World War.
Frederick Maude died at Torquay on June 20th 1897. A memorial was erected to his memory in Brompton Cemetery, London.
The most local of our Victoria Cross laureates, George Lambert was born in Markethill in December of 1819. Lambert was presented with the Victoria Cross in acknowledgement of his bravery and leadership during the Indian Mutiny. On several occasions he led skirmishing parties around the important cities of Unao and Hiran Khana.
George Lambert continued his military service until his death on a parade ground in Sheffield in 1860. Although buried in Wardsend Cemetery, Lambert's memory was hallowed in his native district by the erection of a commemorative plaque in St.John's Church of Ireland at Mullabrack. His Victoria Cross is in the care of the York and Lancaster Museum.
LORD WILLIAM LESLIE DE LA POER BERESFORD
Born at Mullabrack on July 20th 1847 William was the third son of Mullabrack Rector Rev.John de la Poer Beresford. William embarked upon a military career and became a Captain with the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers. On leave from his position with the Viceroy of India, Captain Beresford and the 9th Lancers were posted to Zululand to press British interests in the region. In July 1879 Captain Beresford was with a scouting party when they came under attack. Sergeant Fitzmaurice of the 24th Regiment became unhorsed and Captain Beresford went to his aid.
Beresford was honoured for his leadership and personal courage and went on to become a Lieutenant Colonel. He died at Deepdene, Surrey on December 28th 1900. A memorial was erected to his memory at Clonagam Churchyard in County Waterford of which his father was Marquess.