Victoria Cross from a hero of Lucknow and Honduras comes to auction

In September 1856 Nowell Salmon was appointed to HMS Shannon, commanded by Captain William Peel, VC, which was then under orders to sail to Singapore, from which port she conveyed to Hong Kong Lord Elgin, Plenipotentiary Extraordinary to China.

On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny the Shannon sailed to Calcutta, and on arrival Captain Peel formed the Shannon Naval Brigade of 408 seamen and marines from his crew.

Salmon's party was part of this brigade on its advance on Lucknow in mid-November 1857. Hard-pressed in the fighting, they sort to use the Shah Nujjiff Mosque as a temporary fort and refuge.

However, when they attempted this, they discovered that the walls were high and neither an entrance nor scaling ladders were obviously to hand, and an enemy sharpshooter began to drop the men like flies whilst they struggled to breach the wall.

There was one way up the wall by means of a tree, but several men were picked off trying. Nevertheless, Salmon followed their attempts and successfully scampered up the tree, killed the sharpshooter and picked off more of the enemy until seriously wounded by a musketball.

Salmon was presented with the VC by Queen Victoria in June 1859.

Victoria Cross and other medals of Admiral Salmon
Admiral Salmon's VC, Order of the Bath and service medals

Given the charge of the HMS Icarus, Salmon then captured the notorious 'filibuster' William Walker. Walker was a lawyer, but wanted more and tried to set up English-speaking colonies under his control (as a sort of war lord) on the back of military expeditions.

Walker had been captured twice but had returned from America to pick up where he'd left off. Salmon captured him and handed him in to the Honduran authorities. Salmon was given a large gold medal in gratitude.

Both these medals, the Order of the Bath and several service medals are part of the leading lot in Spink's upcoming 500 lot Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria auction. It also includes photograph of Salmon with others, his sword and a letter of congratulations of capturing Walker.

Offered with a conservative listing of £130,000-150,000, the set will be the first to go under the hammer on July 22 in London.


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