John Edmund Commerell VC

Name: John Edmund Commerell

Conflict: Crimean War

Gazetted: February 24, 1857

Service: Royal Navy

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John Edmund Commerell VC
John Edmund Commerell Medals
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Place/date of birth: Grosvenor Square, London/January 13, 1829

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Commander (later Admiral of the Fleet)

Date of bravery: October 11, 1855

London Gazette citation:

John Edmund Commerell, Commander.

“When commanding the ‘Weser,’ in the Sea of Azoff, crossed the Isthmus of Arabat, and destroyed large quantities of forage on the Crimean shore of the Sivash.”

This enterprise was performed by Commander Commerell, at night, accompanied by William Rickard, Quartermaster, and George Milestone, A.B. Having hauled their small boat across the Spit of Arabat, they traversed the Sivash to the Crimean shore of the Putrid Sea. The magazine of corn, of which they were in search, lay about two miles and a half off, and to reach it they had to ford two rivers, the Karasu and the Salghir. The forage and corn, amounting to 400 tons, were stacked on the banks of the latter river, in the vicinity of a guard-house, and close to from twenty to thirty mounted Cossacks, who were encamped in the neighbouring village. Commander Commerell and his two companions contrived to ignite the stacks, the rapid blazing of which alarmed the guard, who pursued them to the shore with a heavy fire of musketry, and very nearly succeeded in taking them prisoners.

(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th November, 1855, No. 899.)

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations: GCB

Place/date of death: Hyde Park, London/May 21, 1901

Grave/memorials: Cheriton Road Cemetery, Folkestone, Kent; St Ann’s Church, Portsmouth Dockyard, Hampshire

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Sotheby’s, Billingshurst, West Sussex, 1994

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