DANIEL, Edward St. John
Midshipman, Royal Navy
428, No. 5 Company, Taranaki Military Settlers, New Zealand
Constable, 2 Division, New Zealand Armed Constabulary
Gazetted, 24th February 1857 Sir Stephen Lushington recommends this Officer: 1st. For answering a call for volunteers to bring in powder to the Battery from a waggon in a very exposed position under a destructive fire, a shot having disabled the horses. (This was reported by Captain Peel, commanding the Battery at the time.) 2nd. For accompanying Captain Peel at the Battle of Inkermann as Aide-de-camp. 3rd. For devotion to his leader, Captain Peel, on the 18th June, 1855, in tying a tourniquet on his arm on the glacis of the Redan, whilst exposed to a very heavy fire. (Despatch from Sir Stephen Lushington, enclosed in a letter from Admiral Lord Lyons, 10th May, 1856).
India General Service Medal
Turkish Crimea Medal
Sardinian Crimea Medal
Indian Mutiny Medal
Relief of Lucknow, Lucknow
Order of Medjidie, 5th Class (Turkey)
Legion d'Honneur (France)
(Edward St. John Daniel also qualified for the New Zealand Medal
(aka Maori War Medal), but appears not to have made application for this award)
Edward St. John Daniel was born on 17th January 1837, at Clifton, Bristol, England and was the eldest child of Edward Daniel and his wife Barbara (nee: Bedford).
At age 14th birthday, he enlisted into the Royal Navy aboard HMS Victory. In 1853, Midshipman Edward Daniel was draughted aboard HMS Diamond, and in 1854, the ship sailed to the Black Sea at the outbreak of the Crimean War. A number of Officers and ratings from HMS Diamond formed part of the Naval Brigade which were then used in an Infantry role ashore. On the 17th October 1854, during heavy shelling, Midshipman Daniel and Midshipman Evelyn Wood volunteered to bring up boxes of ammunition to the Diamond Battery, under heavy Russian fire which had disabled the horses. On the 5th November 1854, during the Battle of Inkerman, Midshipman Daniel who was servinga as an ADC to Captain William Peel RN and was a conspicuous figure on the battlefield as he was mounted on a pony. Daniel was at his Captain Peel's side throughout the day, and took part in seven separate charges against the Russians. The Naval Brigade also assisted the Grenadier Guards defend their colours. On 18th June 1855, during the unsuccessful assault on the Redan at Sebastopol, Captain Peel, who had volunteered to lead the first Ladder Party, was shot through his left arm and fell back, half fainting. Midshipman Daniel coolly rendered first aid under a very heavy fire, and brought Peel back to safety – actions that are said to have saved Peel's life. Although Daniel escaped injury. His pistol-case was shot through in two places and his clothes were cut by several bullets. For these three separate acts of Gallantry, Midshipman Edward St. John Daniel was awarded the Victoria Cross in the very first list of citations. On the 15th September 1859, Edward St. John Daniel VC was promoted to Lieutenant, and on the 24th April 1860, the Duke of Somerset presented him to Queen Victoria at a Levee held at St James’s Palace. His friend and mentor Captain William Peel VC died of smallpox while recovering from a wound at Cawnpore on 27th April 1858, and from that moment onward Lieutenant Daniel's behaviour appears to have spiralled out of control, hell bent of self destruction fuelled by alcohol. On 26th January 1861, Lieutenant Daniel VC was draughted aboard the screw steamer HMS Victor Emanuel serving in the Mediterranean. On 25th June, he was placed under arrest and the following day the ship proceeded to Corfu, where Daniel would clearly face another court martial. At about 10 pm that night, the Master-at-Arms found that Daniel was missing from the ship. Two men were sent ashore to effect an arrest, but they could not find him. On 28th June 1861, Daniel was marked "Run" (Deserted). It is suggested that brother Officers assisted Lieutenant Daniel to disappear so as to avoid the scandal of an embarrassing Courts Martial. It is not know what charges Lieutenant Daniel was about to face, but they were said to be clearly alcohol related. On the 4th September 1861, Her Majesty Queen Victoria signed a Royal Warrant that made Edward St John Daniel the first man (and one of only eight recipients), to forfeit the Victoria Cross:
"Whereas it hath been reported unto us that EDWARD ST. JOHN DANIEL late a Lieutenant in Our Navy, upon whom we have conferred the decoration of the Victoria Cross, has been accused of a disgraceful offence, and having evaded enquiry by desertion from Our Service, his name has been removed from the list of officers of Our Navy ... Know ye therefore, that we are pleased to command and declare that the said Edward St. John Daniel shall no longer be entitled to have his name enrolled in the Registry of persons on whom we have conferred the said decoration, but shall be and he is hereby judged and declared to be henceforth removed and degraded from all and singular rights, privileges and advantages appertaining thereunto."
In 1920, His Majesty King George V's Private Secretary stated in a letter that the His Majesty's view was that:
"no matter the crime committed by anyone on whom the VC has been conferred, the decoration should not be forfeited. Even were a VC to be sentenced to be hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his VC on the scaffold."
Less than two weeks after the Royal Warrant of forfeiture was issued, Daniel was aboard the Black Ball line American clipper Donald McKay in Cobourg Dock, Liverpool, bound for Melbourne, Australia. The Donald McKay sailed on 16th September 1861 and arrived in Melbourne on 7th December 1861.
It is believed that Edward Daniel took part in the Victoria Goldrush in Australia and in 1864, enlisted at Melbourne as Private E. St. J. Daniel, No 428, No. 5 Company of the Taranaki Military Settlers. Private Edward Daniel enlisted for three years service, and sailed to New Zealand aboard the Gresham, which arrived at New Plymouth, Taranaki Province, North Island on 15th February 1864. His Company took part in operations against the Maori during the Taranaki campaign and he received a land grant for his military service (which is mentioned in his will). On the 26th November 1867, Edward St. John Daniel enlisted as a Constable in No. 2 Division of the NZ Armed Constabulary and was later promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. He was posted to Hokitika, a mining settlement on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand and served under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas McDonnell NZC (McDonnell had previously served as an Officer in the New Zealand Forest Rangers and was awarded the New Zealand Cross). On the 16th May 1868, Edward Daniel was admitted to Hokitika Hospital where he died on 20th May. He was 31 years of age. Lance Corporal Edward St. John Daniel was accorded a full military funeral.
"The men ... started from the barracks at two o’ clock, and proceeded to the landing stage, Gibson’s Quay, to take charge of the body, and on the coffin being received, the firing party presented arms, and then, reversing arms, moved on in front, the remainder of the force counter-marching inwards. The body having been placed in the hearse, the band took up its position in front, the firing party leading. In this order the mournful cortège proceeded with measured tread up Wharf, Camp, and Revell streets, to the Cemetery, the band playing Handel’s funereal composition, "The Dead March in Saul." Arrived at the burial-ground gate, the firing party halted and faced inwards, resting on their arms reversed. The body was then taken out of the hearse, and borne by four of the deceased’s comrades through the ranks of the firing party, the remaining portion of the procession following, the firing party bringing up the rear. On entering the Cemetery, the body was met by the Rev. Archdeacon Harper, the officiating clergyman, who led the way to the grave. Arrived at the grave, the Archdeacon took up his position at the head, the firing party along one side, resting on their arms reversed, the remainder of the mourners forming round. The assemblage at this point was most solemn and imposing, particularly when the venerable archdeacon, in feeling measured voice, proceeded to read the beautiful and impressive service for the dead appointed by the Church of England. At the conclusion of the funeral service the firing party fired three volleys, the reveille being sounded by the drums and fifes between each volley, and thus was rendered the last military honors to the departed soldier. At the conclusion of the ceremony the men re-formed and returned to barracks. The deceased during his connection with the Armed Constabulary Force was much respected by his comrades, and certainly, on this mournful occasion, everything was done that lay in their power to testify their regard for their now lost friend and comrade."
(West Coast Times, 22nd May 1868)
In recent years the Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association (War Veterans), placed a headstone over his unmarked grave.
The inscription reads as follows:
In Memory Of
EDWARD ST JOHN DANIEL V.C.
OF BRISTOL, ENGLAND
DIED HOKITIKA 20TH MAY 1868
AGED 31 YEARS
Michael Inkerman Daniels
Christopher St John Daniel