Inkermann was one of the bloodiest and most desperate battles in British military history, when in darkness and through deep mist, the Russians launched a sudden and massive attack on the lightly defended British lines. Seaman Gorman declined the order to withdraw and leave the wounded, he proceeded to mount the defence works and, using the weapons of the disabled who he was protecting, helped repel the Russian advance ‘not trusting any Ivan to get in bayonet range of the wounded’ - his award was listed in the notable 24 February 1857 issue of the London Gazette containing the first ever awards of the Victoria Cross and his well documented later life confirms him to have been the first Australian resident to hold the V.C. This was one of three V.C’s awarded for this action – the other two are both held in the Lord Ashcroft Collection at the Imperial War Museum in London.
As mentioned in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 1882: “During the campaign he performed many deeds of bravery, foremost among which may be specially noted - saving the life of the late Admiral (then Captain) Lushington, R.N., when that officer was unhorsed and
surrounded by the enemy; and the splendid deed of heroism for which Her Majesty decorated him with the Victoria Cross, protecting at the imminent risk of his life the wounded soldiers and sailors at the Lankester Battery on the great day of Inkerman. Three times were the English forced by overwhelming numbers to evacuate this work, and the dead and wounded lay in heaps; at length, notwithstanding the order to retire, Mr Gorman, with four other brave fellows, stood their ground until reinforcements arrived, and this important post was saved.”
James Gorman was born in London in 1834, he was assigned at the age of 14 to the training ship H.M.S. Victory, Admiral Nelson’s former flagship, as a Boy Second Class, having been one of the first 200 boys to be accepted as apprentices into the Royal Navy. Later on in his Naval career, he saw service on the newly formed Australia Station, docking at Sydney on December 31, 1858 and January 1860 and also at Melbourne in March 1859. Returning to England, he was paid off at Sheerness in 1860, thus ending his 13 years of service in the Royal Navy, but chose to return to the antipodes, boarding the 755 ton free trader Fairlie at Plymouth, bound for Sydney, Australia, in 1863 – he remained in Australia for the rest of his life and was buried with military honours in the Church of England section of Balmain Cemetery (now Pioneers memorial Park, Leichhardt) in October 1882.
John Burridge, Dix Noonan Webb’s Australasia Representative said: “During his lifetime Gorman was something of a celebrity in Australia becoming the first ever Australian resident to hold a Victoria Cross and his contribution to this country following his move here is well documented. It is notable that there were no Australian born recipients of the Victoria Cross prior to the Boer War of 1900, making Gorman’s V.C. even more significant in terms of our national heritage.”
Seaman Gorman’s V.C is part of the Collection of the late Warwick George Cary (1949-2020). Cary was born at Engadine in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney, New South Wales. He had always been a collector of something, but it was his love of medals that launched a whole new career for him. Joining the New South Wales State Emergency Service in 1982, he was appointed to be the Service’s inaugural State Protocol Officer in 2001. During his career, he was presented with numerous awards and also provided significant leadership in many major operations throughout the state, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The second part of Mr Cary’s Collection will be offered in DNW’s Medal sale in November.
Also of significant interest in the sale will be a collection of medals from the Charge of The Light Brigade. The most important being a group of five awarded to Major-General John Douglas, who commanded the 11th Hussars during the Crimean War, and led them in the
Charge at Balaklava, which is estimated at £15,000-£20,000. John Douglas, who was born at Gartcraig, Lanarkshire, Scotland on April 25, 1811, joined the 61st Foot as an Ensign in 1829, immediately transferring to the 79th Foot. Advancing to Captain in 1839 he was invited, six months later, into the 11th Hussars. The following September, Douglas achieved a certain notoriety when acting as second to his commanding officer, John Thomas Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, in his notorious duel with Captain Tuckett on Wimbledon Common.
Due to the current COVID 19 situation, this auction will be online only and there will be no room bidding available. Customers are able to bid live online (DNW make no additional charge for this service) or leave commission bids prior to the auction. Lots may be viewed prior to the sale by appointment only.
FORTHCOMING SALES AT DNW
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 – INDIAN COINS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28 – BRITISH, IRISH AND WORLD BANKNOTES
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3 – COINS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17 – THE COLLECTION OF BRITISH TOKENS FORMED BY JOHN ROSE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24 – JEWELLERY, WATCHES, ANTIQUTIES & OBJECTS OF VERTU
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2 – COINS, TOKENS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
Free online bidding is available is www.dnw.co.uk
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dix Noonan Webb – a brief history
In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000. Two years later it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens and in 2015 DNW added jewellery to its sales calendar. In 2018, it set up a standalone banknotes department and expanded into premises next door. In the same year, DNW achieved a total hammer price of £11,676,580 and the total number of lots across all departments was 20,273. To date the company has sold in excess of 300,000 lots totalling £155 million.
For further press information and images please contact:
Rachel Aked - Tel: 07790732448/ Email: Rachel@rachelaked.co.uk