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The VC Heroes' Downward Spiral

Discussion in 'Military History' started by The_Historian, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Probably a combination of PTSD and pressure to live up to their reputations.
    Poor souls.
    "The sobering stories of the Victoria Cross heroes whose lives ended in tragedy or disgrace are told in a new book.
    They were the bravest of the brave, earning the highest award for gallantry for acts of unrivalled heroism on the front line.
    But receiving the accolade did not bring these men contentment, happiness or lasting fame.
    In fact, their reputations were tarnished by incidents often out of their control and in some cases they were shunned by society.
    Author Brian Izzard has highlighted the plight of 27 Victoria Cross holders who befell ignominy in later life in his book Glory And Dishonour including one of the heroes of the remarkable rearguard at Rorke's Drift where 150 British soldiers held off 4,000 enemy warriors.
    He also sheds new light on the tragic tale of a gallant midshipman who was awarded the Victoria Cross aged just 17 but couldn't cope with the shame of being stripped of it for a few misdemeanours and jumped from a hotel window to his death four years later.
    Cheltenham-born Midshipman Duncan Boyes carried the Queen's Colour through withering Japanese fire as he led a squadron of British, French, Dutch and American ships at Shimonoseki in September 1864.
    They landed to destroy enemy guns and blow up ammunition but a large Japanese force hidden in thick bush launched a surprise counter attack.
    Only his captain's direct order stopped teenager Boyes from going further.
    Afterwards it was found six musket balls had peppered the colour.
    Seven seamen were killed and another 26 were wounded in the offensive.
    Commander John Moresby recorded: 'They were met by hot fire from the parapet of a ditch in front of the battery and from the top of an eight foot wall protecting the palisade.
    'Our men never checked, and rushing on swarmed over the wall and won the stockade, the enemy disappearing into the bush.'
    Boyes' naval career ended abruptly in February 1867 when while serving on the HMS Cadmus he was court-martialled for breaking into the naval yard in Bermuda with a friend at night after a run ashore.
    The pair, who may have been drunk, had been turned away from the main gate because they did not have passes.
    Admiralty papers have revealed Boyes was warned several times about being drunk and being impertinent to a commander.
    There is no record of Boyes being a problem before receiving the Victoria Cross, so his fall from grace suggests he found it hard to cope with his role of young hero.
    The punishment left him shattered and severe depression and heavy drinking took over.
    In 1871, he jumped out of a hotel window in Dunedin, New Zealand."
    Tragic demise of the Victoria Cross heroes | Daily Mail Online
    lwd likes this.
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Jul 24, 2007
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    One does wish they would be a bit more accurate with their writing. The sentence:
    Seemed a bit much especially since it sounded like his actions were ashore.
    I hadn't heard of the battle before so I looked it up at:
    Shimonoseki Campaign - Wikipedia
    A rather interesting series of events.
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Likes Received:
    London UK
    This puts me in mind of Stan Hollis VC who bought a pub - the Green Howard which contributed to hsi downfall, so I have been told by locals.

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