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Luke O'Connor
Sergeant Luke O'Connor Winning the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Alma (1854). Oil by Louis William Desanges.
Born (1831-01-20)20 January 1831
Died 1 February 1915(1915-02-01) (aged 84)
Place of birth Elphin, County Roscommon, Ireland
Place of death Clarges Street, London
Buried at St Mary's (RC) cemetery Kensal Rise
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch Flag of the British Army British Army
Years of service 1849 - 1887
Rank Major General
Unit 23rd Regiment of Foot

Major General Sir Luke O'Connor VC, KCB (20 January 1831 – 1 February 1915) was a British soldier. He was the first soldier to receive the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, and was one of the most decorated servicemen ever to have served in the British Army.

He was born in Kilcroy, Hillstreet, near Elphin, County Roscommon in Ireland, and enlisted in the British Army as a young man. At the age of 23, he was a sergeant in the 23rd Regiment of Foot (later The Royal Welch Fusiliers).

During the Crimean War, the 23rd Foot were part of the British force sent to the Crimea. On 20 September 1854, 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.

The Victoria Cross did not exist at that time, but when it was created in 1856, O'Connor was one of the 62 Crimean veterans invested with it. He was the first recipient from the Army, as opposed to the Royal Navy.

He later achieved the rank of Major General. He died in Clarges Street, London, on 1 February 1915.[1] He is buried at St Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Rise, London.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, Wales.


  1. The Times, 4 February 1915, page 1

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