John Bythesea VC

Name: John Bythesea

Conflict: Crimean War

Gazetted: February 24, 1857

Service: Royal Navy

John Bythesea VC
John Bythesea VC

Medal group

Place/date of birth: Freshford, near Bath, Somerset (now Avon)/June 15, 1827

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Lieutenant (later Rear Admiral)

Date of bravery: August 12, 1854

London Gazette citation:

John Bythesea, Commander.

On the 9th of August, 1854, having ascertained that an Aide-de-Camp of the Emperor of Russia had landed on the Island of Wardo, in charge of a mail and despatches for the Russian General, Commander Bythesea obtained permission for himself and William Johnstone, a stoker, to proceed on shore with the view to intercept them. Being disguised and well armed, they concealed themselves till the night of the 12th, when the mail-bags were landed close to the spot where they lay secreted in the bushes. The mails were accompanied by a military escort, which passed close to them, and which, as soon as it was ascertained that the road was clear, took its departure. Availing themselves of this opportunity, Commodore Bythesea and the stoker, attacked the five men in charge of the mail, took three of them prisoners, and brought them in their own boat on board the “Arrogant.”

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Other decorations: CB, CIE

Place/date of death: South Kensington, London/May 18, 1906

Grave/memorials: Bath Abbey Cemetery, Somerset (now Avon); Freshford Church, Somerset

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Spink, London, 2007

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum