History of War

Heroes of the Victoria Cross SIR WILLIAM PEEL

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“FOR JOINING THE OFFICERS OF THE GRENADIER GUARDS, AND ASSISTING IN DEFENDING THE COLOURS OF THAT REGIMENT, WHEN HARD PRESSED AT THE SANDBAG BATTERY”
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“FOR HAVING… AT THE GREATEST POSSIBLE RISK, TAKEN UP A LIVE SHELL… AND THROWN IT OVER THE PARAPET… THEREBY SAVING… THE LIVES OF THOSE IMMEDIATELY ROUND IT”
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As his name might suggest, Sir William Peel was the third – and favourite – son of Sir Robert Peel, the twice prime minister of Britain and father of modern-day policing. Yet it would not be in his father’s political footsteps that the younger Peel would follow. Instead he decided on a career in the Royal Navy and a life at sea. He would go on to become one of the earliest recipients of the newly instituted Victoria Cross. Its awarding to Peel recognised not one but three acts of personal valour. However, Peel would not commit these gallant acts on the seas, for he would be thrown into the Crimean War on land.

Born in 1824 and educated at Harrow,

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