A Spink's Medals & Militaria auction yesterday (July 22).awarded to a brave Navy soldier during the Indian Mutiny, India's rebellion against British authority in 1857-58, was the star lot in
Auctioned as part of a group of medals, the VC was awarded to Nowell Salmon, a navy soldier aboard the HMS Shannon which was commanded by another VC winner, Captain William Peel.
The Shannon was among a number of ships which advanced on Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India, and attempted to claim the Shah Nujjiff Mosque as a temporary fort.
However, the brigade soon discovered that the walls of the Mosque were too high to scale.
To make matters worse, they were targeted by an enemy sharpshooter who managed to kill a number of their seamen and marines.
It was eventually discovered that there was only one way over the Mosque's walls - via a nearby tree. Many men attempted the climb it, but were felled by the sharpshooter while trying.
Unperturbed, Salmon followed their attempts and successfully climbed the tree. Once up, he killed the sharpshooter and successfully targeted a number of enemy soldiers.
For his heroism, Salmon was presented with the VC by Queen Victoria in June 1959. But his remarkable deeds didn't end there.
After his VC win, Salmon was given command of the HMS Icarus which went on to successfully capture the notorious filibuster William Walker.
Walker, originally a lawyer, had plans to set-up English speaking colonies under his own control. He'd been captured twice previously, but had escaped both times.
However, Walker couldn't escape from Salmon, who eventually handed Walker over to the Honduran authorities and received a large gold medal for his efforts - also included in Spink's sale.
Given the remarkable story behind Salmon's group of medals - and, of course, the inclusion of the VC - it's of no surprise that the lot conformably exceeded its £130,000-150,000 estimate.
In the end, Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon's (as he since became known) exceptional collection of medals realised a final price of £228,000 (including 20% Buyer's Premium).
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