Shako Plate, 23d Foot
Photo of actual shako plate found at the River Alma.
Presented by David Williams of the Crimean War Research Society
to retiring Lt. Colonel Peter Knox, OBE, Royal Welch Fusiliers,
for display at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle, Wales.
Major General Sir Luke O'Connor VC, KCB, was born in County Rosecommon and was an Irish 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. The VC did not exist at the time of O'Connor's endeavours, but so memorable were they that he was the first army serviceman to be awarded the VC. O'Connor is one of the most decorated servicemen ever to have served in the British Army. His only award for gallantry, though, was the Victoria Cross.
He was 23 years old, and a sergeant in the 23rd Foot, when the following deed took place at the battle of the River Alma for which he was awarded the VC.
"On 20 September, 1854, in the Crimea, at the Battle of the Alma, Sergeant O'Connor was advancing between two officers, carrying the Colour, when one of them was mortally wounded. Sergeant O'Connor was also shot at the same time, but recovering himself, he snatched up the Colour from the ground and continued to carry it until the end of the action, although urged to retire to the rear on account of his wounds. He also acted with great gallantry at the assault on the Redan (8 September, 1855) where he was shot through both thighs."
He is credited as the first man of the Army to perform an action subsequently rewarded with the VC. He later achieved the rank of Major General. Major General O'Connor died at Charges Street, London 1 February, 1915. His grave/memorial is in St Mary's (RC) cemetery Kensal Rise, London.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum (Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, Wales).