Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The July issue of magazine has four pages on the life and career of Rear Admiral Henry James Raby VC, CB. He was the very first VC recipient to be presented with the VC by Queen Victoria. Furthermore, Raby was the only one to be “wounded” during an investiture.
Raby, who was born in France where his family were visiting at the time, was awarded his gallantry medal for bravery during the Crimean War and while serving in the Royal Navy.
Some sailors had been recruited to reinforce the British land troops and, during an attack on the Redan, an enemy-held fort, on June 18 1855, Raby displayed outstanding bravery. Under heavy enemy fire, he rescued a soldier from no-man’s land after the man had been shot in both legs.
His VC was “gazetted” on February 24 1857, one of the first to be announced following the decoration’s creation the previous year. On June 26, 1857, at a gathering in Hyde Park, Raby received his VC first – ahead of 61 other servicemen – because he was the most senior officer in the most senior service (the Royal Navy).
The Queen, who was on horseback, was too enthusiastic as she pinned the medal on to the officer’s chest and so the pin shot through Raby’s jacket and pierced his skin. Raby eventually died in February 1907, aged 79.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past six years have been largely based on excerpts from his six books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes and Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the July issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.