The first naval Victoria Cross

The first naval Victoria Cross was awarded to Charles Lucas while serving as a Mate on HMS Hecla in 1854 during the Crimean War.

Charles Davis Lucas was born in Ulster in 1834 and joined the Royal Navy in 1848 rising to the rank of Rear Admiral on the retired list in 1885.

Crimean War

On the outbreak of the Crimea War with Russia in 1854, the British Fleet under Admiral Napier was sent to the Baltic with orders to bombard the coastal fortresses, one of which was Bomarsund guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. Captain W. H. Hall, sailed the Hecla, accompanied by two paddle steamers, through the narrow channel to Bomarsund and started to bombard the fort where the Russians were sheltering.

His act of bravery

During the action, a live shell from an enemy battery landed on the deck of the Hecla, its fuse still hissing – Charles Lucas with what was described as ‘great coolness and presence of mind' ran forward, picked up the shell and threw it overboard, where it exploded on hitting the water. Thanks to Lucas's quick thinking no one was killed or seriously injured.