William Fraser McDonell

William Fraser McDonell

William Fraser McDonell VC (17 December 1829- 31 July 1894) was an English recipient of 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. He is one of only five civilians to be awarded the VC.


Educated at Cheltenham College and East India Company College (later succeeded by the Haileybury and Imperial Service College), he was 27 years old, and a civilian in the Bengal Civil Service during the Indian rebellion of 1857 when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 30 July 1857 during the retreat from Arrah, India, Mr. McDonell and 35 soldiers were in a boat hoping to escape, but the oars had been taken away by the rebels and the rudder tied to the side of the boat. Mr. McDonell climbed out of the boat under incessant fire from the enemy and with considerable difficulty cut through the lashing which secured the rudder. He then guided the boat himself, and helped by a breeze, crossed the river to safety.


*Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
*The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
*Scotland's Forgotten Valour (Graham Ross, 1995)

External links

* [http://www.homeusers.prestel.co.uk/stewart/gloucest.htm Location of grave] "(St. Peter's churchyard, Leckhampton, Gloucestershire)"
* [http://www.dhs.kyutech.ac.jp/~ruxton/OC_victoria_crosses.html William McDONELL of Cheltenham College]

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