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Lord William Beresford VC

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Category: Military
Reference No: 10411
Status: Available
Price: £125.00
  Lord William Beresford VC

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Irish-born soldier.

Beresford became a captain in the 9th Lancers during the Zulu War of 1879. On 3 July 1879 at Ulundi, Zululand, South Africa, during the hasty retreat of a reconnoitring party, Beresford went to the assistance of Sergeant Fitzmaurice of the 24th Regiment, whose horse had fallen and rolled on him. The Zulus were coming in great numbers, but Lord William, with help from Sergeant Edmund O'Toole of the Frontier Light Horse, managed to mount the injured man behind him. Fitzmaurice was, however, so dizzy that Sergeant O'Toole, who had been keeping back the advancing Zulus, gave up his carbine and, riding alongside, helped to hold him on until they reached safety.

Initially the Victoria Cross was awarded only to Beresford but he told the Queen that O'Toole also deserved the honour.

Her Majesty pinning it on to the hero's breast, but not before he had explained to his Queen he could not in honour receive recognition of any services he had been able to perform, unless Sergeant O'Toole's services were also recognised, as he deserved infinitely greater credit than any that might attach to himself. The Queen, appreciating this generosity and soldierly honesty, bestowed the reward also on Sergeant Edmund O’Toole of Baker's Horse, and Lord William was satisfied.

This is a bold signature in black ink, on a 5" x 4" piece cut from a letter. The letter was to a member of the Royal Navy, A.Galloway Esq, Commander of HMS Lapwing, a Redbreast class gunboat at Calcutta, so was clearly from Beresford's later career on the staff of the Viceroy of India. The letter was sent post-1889, the year of HMS Lapwing's commissioning. The piece has been laid down, probably in Edwardian times, to an album page, and the original collector has added a small ink note identifying Beresford as the Military Secretary of the Viceroy of India. VERY RARE.