George Henry Ingouville VC

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Societe logo.png


George Henry Ingouville VC


This article by Keith Burrow was first published in the 1971 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

As the preparation of this manuscript was nearing its completion, the Victoria Cross won by Ingouville was sent to Spink and Sons for sale. The States of Jersey Public Works Committee were able to purchase it for the island and by their courtesy, the cross is to be put on exhibition in the Museum of the Societe Jersiase.

This article is primarily concerned with Ingouville's service at sea and with the winning of his awards for gallantry but a general account of his life, as known at the present time, is included.

Naval career

George Henry Ingouville, the eldest son of Pierre (Peter) lngouville and Elisa Maria (Elisabeth Marie, née French, was born in St. Helier on 7 October 1826. He was christened at St Saviours Church on 18 October of the same year.

George had three brothers. Little is known about the first, Clement Philippe, and the second, Charles Edward, died in infancy and was buried at St Saviour's Church. The youngest brother, John George, emigrated to South America, where he married and raised a family. Descendants are to be found in Uruguay and Argentina. Neither of George's two sisters, Elisa Maria and Isabella Francois, were married. Both died in Jersey near the turn of the last century and were buried with their mother and infant brother at St Saviour. Ingouville began his seagoing career in the Merchant Service when he was 21 and sailed four years before the mast in the ships Hydaspeo, Duke of Wellington, Bahamian and Viscont Sandor.

On 6 July 1851, he joined the Royal Navy as an able seaman, entering HMS Trafalgar where he remained until 16 April 1854 when he transferred to HMS Samson. It was during his service with Samson on 30 September 1854 that he was promoted Captain of the Mast. The nearest modern equivalent of this rank would be that of Petty or Chief Petty Officer. Both HMS Trafalgar and Samson were in the Black Sea during the Eastern Campaign and were present at the siege of Sebastopol.

Captain of the Mast

Ingouville's next ship was HMS Arrogant, which he joined on 1 February 1855 as a Captain of the Mast. On 1 April he signed on for "seven years continuous and general service". The Arrogant was part of the fleet which entered the Baltic in March 1855 under the command of Rear Admiral The Honourable RS Dundas during the Eastern Campaign. It was during the ship's service in the Baltic that the action occurred for which Ingouville was to win the award of the Victoria Cross. His service with Arrogant terminated on 25 February 1857 and he moved on to HMS Victory where he remained for two months.

He was appointed to the Coastguard as a Boatman on 26 April 1857 and on 20 November he was sent to prison for desertion, rejoining on 29 December. On 1 March 1858 he was stationed at Birling Gap, Sussex, being borne on the Muster Books of HMS Arrogant. Then, on 3 June 1858 he was sent to serve a second term of imprisonment for desertion, being returned on 30 June. Shortly afterwards he again deserted-

The Muster Books of HMS Arrogant have an entry R for run (desertion) dated 12 August 1858. Ingouville's Continuous Service Certificate, although having an entry R on the same date as Arrogant’s Muster Books, has a later annotation 67/139 Removal of R, showing that his desertion had been pardoned, no doubt because of his gallantry.

From the Coastguard he went to HMS Atholl for a short time (20 December 1858 - 12 January 1859) before joining HMS Marlborough. During his service with Marlborough, which ended on 22 March 1861, he received the grant due to him under Royal Warrant. From the Accountant General's Victoria Cross Pensions Register we find "cause of pension - under Royal Warrant 13August 1857 - Amount granted £10 from 13 July 1855, Payment "Malboro" .

According to Ingouville's Continuous Service Certificate his last ship was HMS Challenger, on which he served from 23 March 1861 until 16 June 1862, although the last entry on this record is dated 7 January 1863. In contrast, his own Certificate of Service shows his last ship to have been HMS Pike (name difficult to decipher) which he left on 12 August 1863. Presumably, this was the date that he terminated his service with the Royal Navy.


While serving in the Royal Navy, George married Mary Anne, the daughter of Captain Mathew Le Rossignol. The marriage took place on 4 April 1861, at the Roman Catholic Chapel, Bristol Road, Brighton. The witnesses were Matilda Le Rossignol and his sister Elisa Maria.

Little else is known about George except the date of his death on 13 January 1869.

The entry of his death in the Accountant Generals Victoria Cross Pension Register is unrevealing and records only DD 13/1/69 - AG 2010/70. Unfortunately the Admiralty papers referred to have not been traced, possibly due to the extensive "weeding" of papers known to have taken place since that time. There is no other clue at present which might reveal how or where he died. Extensive search of the Register of Deaths in Jersey, Great Britain and Eire have drawn blank.

When purchased, the Victoria Cross was accompanied by George's Certificate of Service. According to the previous owner, the cross had been in his family's possession for over 100 years, having been given to his grandfather as security for a loan made to George. Unfortunately, no information is available regarding the whereabouts or fate of George's other medals.

The Victoria Cross

On 13 July, 1855 during the latter part of HMS Arrogant’s service in the Baltic, her boats were in action against enemy gunboats and batteries at Viborg. Here, George Henry Ingouville was to win the Victoria Cross. During the engagement an explosion took place in the magazine of Arrogant's second cutter killing Mr Story the Midshipman in command. The cutter, half swamped and under heavy fire began drifting towards the enemy battery and would have been lost if Ingouville, although wounded, had not jumped into the sea and turned her about.

Associated with George Ingouville in the action at Viborg was Lieutenant George Dare Dowell (Royal Marines Artillery) of HMS Magicienne. The condition of the cutter was seen by Lieutenant Dowell who was on board HMS Ruby. Calling for volunteers, he jumped into Ruby's gig and was joined by Lieutenant H V Haggard and two men. This small party, although under increasingly heavy fire, went to the rescue of the damaged cutter and her crew and succeeded in bringing her to safety. For his gallantry Lieutenant Dowell was also to receive the Victoria Cross.


Both awards were published in the London Gazette of 24 February 1857 and were among the first Victoria Crosses to be won. Two other awards which were gazetted were those of Lieutenant J Bythesea RN and Stoker W Johnson RN who won the Victoria Cross on 9 August 1854 while serving on board HMS Arrogant. Also gazetted was the first Victoria Cross to be won, that of Mate Charles Davis Lucas RN, won on 21 June 1854. These were the only Victoria Crosses to be won during the operations in the Baltic.

At the first investiture of the Victoria Cross which took place in Hyde Park on 26 June 1857, Queen Victoria decorated 62 recipients with their awards. Of these, 12 went to the Royal Navy. Among this gallant band of men was George Ingouville.

A painting from the Queen's Gallery was reproduced in the Daily Telegraph towards the end of 1967. The painting, by George Housman Thomas, depicts the first investiture of the Victoria Cross. The recipient shown being decorated by Her Majesty has been identified as George Ingouville, awaiting his turn is George Dare Dowell. An interesting feature of the painting is the colour of the ribbon of Ingouville's Victoria Cross, for it is shown as red instead of blue, which was the correct colour for naval awards at that time. It is not know whether this was a mistake by the artist, whether Lord Panmure, facing the Queen on her left, handed Her Majesty the wrong Victoria Cross or whether it was the correct Victoria Cross with the wrong ribbon.

However, the accuracy of detail shown by the artist in the drawing and colouring would indicate that he reproduced what actually occurred. When purchased, Ingouville's Victoria Cross had with it two ribbons, one red and one blue. This would suggest that Ingouville received the correct Victoria Cross but with the wrong ribbon.

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

Besides being one of the first men to win the Victoria Cross, Ingouville was also one of the first to be awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. This decoration was instituted in 1855 to reward acts of gallantry by naval ratings during the Eastern Campaign. Having been sanctioned for the Eastern Campaign, awards ceased at the termination of hostilities. It was reinstitued in 1874.

Only 11 awards were made in the initial period and two of these went to the same man, Able Seaman David Barry of HMS Cracker. Apparently, because so few medals were awarded originally, no special reverse die was made until 1874 and use was made of the Meritorious Service Medal. This was done by erasing the words "Meritorious Service" and engraving Conspicuous Gallantry in their place.

Ingouville's Certificate of Service records both the VC and CGM awards, so the suggestion that the original ten recipients of the CGM had to return their decoration and receive a Victoria Cross in its place seems most unlikely. Only six holders of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal at that time were awarded the Victoria Cross. Extant photographs of several of the VC and CGM holders show both decorations being worn.

The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was awarded to Ingouville for his actions on 13 July 1855, at the Transsund Roads, off Viborg whilst with HMS Arrogant. It seems most likely that Ingouville first received the CGM for his part in the saving of Arrogant’s second cutter at Viborg and that this act was considered sufficiently worthy to be enhanced by the award of the Victoria Cross when this decoration was institued.

Crimea, Baltic and Turkish Crimea Medals

The Crimea Medal, with clasp "Sebastopol", was sanctioned on 31 October 1855. Ingouville received this for his services on HMS Trafalgar and Samson in the Black Sea. The Baltic Medal was santioned on 23 April 1865. Ingouville received this for his service in that sphere of the Eastern Campaign on HMS Arrogant already described.

The Turkish Crimea Medal was awarded by the Sultan of Turkey to certain soldiers and sailors of the Allied Forces, British, French and Sardinian who had taken part in the war. Permission to wear the medals was granted to British recipients. Ingouville received this award.

London Gazette: 24 February, 1857

George Ingoueville (sic) Captain of the Mast, Royal Navy
On 13 July 1855, while the boats of the Arrogant were engaged with the enemy's gunboats and batteries off Viborg, her second cutter was swamped by the blowing up of her magazine, and drifted under a battery. Notwithstanding that he was wounded in the arm, and that the boat was under a heavy fire, Ingouevlle (sic) without any order to do so,jumped overboard, caught hold of her painter and saved her.

Despatches from Captain Yelverton 18 November 1855 and Rear Admiral The Hon R Dundas 12 December,1855, No.759.

London Gazette: 24 February 1857

Lieutenant George Dare Dowell, Royal Marine Artillery.
An explosion having occurred in one of the rocket boats of Arrogant during the attack on some forts near Viborg. Lieutenant Dowell (who was on the Ruby gunboat while his own boat was receiving a supply of rockets) was the first to jump in the quarter boat of the Ruby, and with three volunteers, himself pulling the stroke oar, proceeded instantly, under a heavy fire of grape and musketry, to the assistance of the cutter crew. The Russians endeavoured to prevent his object of saving the men and the boat, but Lieutenant Dowell suceeded in taking up three of the boat's crew and placing them on board the Ruby, and, on his returning to the spot, was mainly instrumental in keeping afloat, and bringing off the sinking cutter.

Despatch from Rear Admiral the Hon R S Dundas, 17 July 1855, and letter from Colonel Wesley, Deputy Adjutant-General of the Royal Marines.

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs