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 Calton's east-end war hero        Sgt. John Simpson Knox VC

the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy
that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Sgt. John Simpson Knox   Scots (Fusilier) Guards & Rifle Brigade
                                  Recipient of the first Victoria Cross ever awarded to a British Army soldier
The VC was instituted by royal warrant in 1856, with the first awards backdated for service in the Baltic and the Crimea.
The first recipient of the VC was a Royal Navy officer and Ulsterman, Midshipman Charles Davis Lucas on 21st June 1854, aged 20.


John Knox VCJohn Simpson Knox was born 30 Sept.1828millroad in King Street, Calton, Glasgow, Scotland.
 (King Street was renamed Millroad Street)
Being very tall for his age, he enlisted, under-age, in the British Army, joining the Scots Fusiliers Guards on the 15th May 1843 at the age of fourteen and a half.
He swiftly rose through the ranks and was promoted to corporal before reaching the age of 18, eventually reaching the rank of Drill Sergeant on 7th July 1853.

The British and French forces began to land on the Crimean Peninsula on 14 September 1854. On 19 September the combined forces moved off toward Sebastopol and on 20 September came the first major engagement of the campaign, the Battle of the Alma.

He won his VC on 20 September 1854 when aged 25yrs at the Battle of the Alma & Sebastopol, Crimea in the Crimean War campaign

On 18 June 1855, he volunteered for the ladder party in the attack on the Redan, an attempt to finish the Siege of Sevastopol, he was struck by a Russian cannonball, removing part of his left arm.  His actions that day also contributed toward his receiving the VC. His Crimea Medal shows that he also fought at the Battle of Balaclava and the Battle of Inkerman.


His VC citation read:   War Office, 24th February, 1857.
THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the Decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Men of Her Majesty's Navy and Marines, and Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men of Her Majesty's Army, who have been recommended to Her Majesty for that Decoration,—in accordance with the rules laid down in Her Majesty's Warrant of the 29th of January, 1856—on account of acts of bravery performed by them before the Enemy during the late War, as recorded against their several names, viz. :—
2nd Bat. Rifle Brigade Lieutenant John Knox
When serving as a Serjeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards, Lieutenant Knox was conspicuous for his exertions in reforming the ranks of the Guards at the Battle of the Alma. Subsequently, when in the Rifle Brigade, he volunteered for the ladder-party in the attack on the Redan, on the 18th of June, and (in the words of Captain Blackett, under whose command he was) behaved admirably, remaining on the field until twice wounded.

He was among the 62 men at the first presentation of the VC, made by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park, London on 26 June 1857. His action at the Alma was the earliest for which a VC was awarded to a member of the British Army—earlier actions leading to the award of a VC were carried out by members of the Royal Navy.

VC Presented   26 June 1857 by Queen Victoria at Hyde Park, London, England.


Despite the loss of his arm, he continued to serve, and was appointed an Instructor of Musketry on 7 January 1858, and promoted captain on 30 April.   
He married Miss Louisa Harriet Gale in 1862, who bore him seven children.

On 15 June 1866 he was appointed Inspector of Musketry for the South Western District. He briefly returned to regimental duties from 22 January 1872, and on his retirement from the army on 8 June 1872 was granted a brevet majority.
He took up residence at Cheltenham.
When he retired from the army in 1872 he became Governor of Cardiff Gaol, then Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool, before retiring from the Prison Service in April 1892.

.DIED   8 January 1897  Aged 70  At his home, 6 Oriel Terrace, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
                    Buried in the town's cemetery where three other VC recipients also lie. 
                    Named on wife's headstone, Harriet Louisa, died 4 January 1890 (C of E Section 6, Grave 312), Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool, Lancashire



His VC was sold by Spink’s on 22 April 2010, together with
the cannonball which had caused the loss of his arm.


                                                                                  A fellow soldier had picked up the missile that hit Major Knox and later gave it to him.

The lot, also included three other medals, two portraits, a cap badge and a belt plate  They sold for £252,000 ($387,500).

Please get in touch with me if you can add any details.


 VC holders.



John Knox VC 

James McKechnie VC
James Richardson VC



oor Forces tribute



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