From Irish Orphan to V.C Hero by Brian Humphreys
This is a true story of how Major General Sir Luke O'Connor, rose from an Irish orphan in a foreign country to:
* Being the first soldier to win the Victoria Cross
* Being declared a hero by Turkey and Sardinia
* Being Knighted
*Becoming the colonel of the regiment he joined as a boy
Eight year old Luke O'Connor stood on a Quebec Quay with his five orphaned siblings, having disembarked the ship which brought his family on their voyage from Ireland to escape the Famine of the early 1840s. They had already suffered dreadful conditions on board a disease infested 'Coffin Ship', and om Grosse Isle, the Canadian Immigration Island where thousands of their countrymen had, and were to die. Both parents and a baby brother died on the journey to their intended destination on the North American plains, but there they remained alone in a French speaking foreign country.
Luke was so upset and homesick, that he was repatriated to Ireland to be cared for by relatives. Whilst in the car of an uncle in London, and with his uncles help and a suspected manipulation of his age, in 1849 he joined the 23rd Regiment of Foot, The Welsh Fusiliers.
Only 5 years later, he was the Sergeant guarding the regiments colour party at the Battle of Alma, in the Crimean War. As they marched forward with the Russians defended in redoubts ahead on high ground, the army of the alliance faced almost certain death. The Lieutenant carrying the Queens colour was shot dead and at the same time , Luke was shot in the chest breaking two ribs. With showers of munitions being fired down on them and being severely injured, he recovered the colour and with it, encouraged the troops behind him to follow his example to forge ahead.
The Victoria Cross had yet to be instituted but his actions were witnessed by two commanders who ensured that he was rewarded by becoming the first soldier to win one. He was also later awarded a commission and went on to display courage and bravery on the attacks on Sebastopol which brought an end to the war.
Promotions followed and being a VC celebrity, he was often invited to the gatherings of the royal family and the aristocracy of London. Having developed a friendship with The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward 7th. He was knighted and n his retirement was promoted to the honorary rank of Major General and command the regiment he had joined as a boy and had never left.
But would he ever catch up with his five siblings, all of whom had made their successful lives in North America?
This is a remarkable military and human interest journey of sadness and success in the face of adversity.
Dimensions: H 297vmm, W 207 mm, D 11 mm