b. 07/10/1828 Eccles, Lancashire. d. 07/12/1872 Funchal, Portugal
Cecil William Buckley (1828-1872) was born in Eccles, Lancashire, on 7th October 1828, and he joined the Royal Navy at the young age of 15 in 1843, and served as a Mate on the HMS Daedalus and HMS Royal George. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 11th January 1850, and received an appointment to the HMS Miranda under the command of Captain E.M. Lyons on 24th May 1850.
In 1854, he was part of capture of Kola, the capital of Russian Lapland. In the Sea of Azoff he was present on the 28th May 1855, in the attack on the Fort of Arabat. On the following day, he was under the boats of the Miranda and HMS Swallow, under the command of Lieutenant J.F.C. Mackenzie, and helped to set fire to 73 ships, and to the corn stores of Genitchi. Buckley’s actions alongside Lieutenant Hugh Burgoyne and Gunner John Robarts saw all three men awarded the Victoria Cross for their gallantry.
Buckley would be involved in a similar action shortly after Genitchi, at Taganrog on 3rd June 1855, when with the Boatswain, Henry Cooper, he volunteered to take on the hazardous task of setting fire to the stores and equipment. Buckley would have the distinction of being the first Victoria Cross to be gazetted on 24th February 1857, though Charles Davis Lucas has the distinction of being the first by date of action. Buckley was the first of nine VC’s awarded for actions in the Sea of Azoff. Soon after his gazetting of the VC, Buckley assumed command of the Snake and was engaged in operations in the Kertch Strait. On 27th April 1856, he was promoted to Commander.
Besides his VC, he was also awarded the Crimean Medal with two clasps for Sebastopol and Azoff. On 24th May 1857, he was appointed to the steam vessel “Merlin” of 6 guns and was briefly on the West Coast of Africa. He later served for some time on the Cape Station, and was later in the Forte. He was then promoted to Captain in 1862. During the years 1868-70 he commanded the Pylades on the Pacific Station. In December 1871, he was appointed to the command of the Valiant coastguard ship in the Shannon. Sadly, failing health compelled him to retire in the following October.
Captain Buckley died at Funchal, Madeira on 7th December 1872, aged just 44, leaving a wife and two children. He was buried in the British Cemetery in Funchal. His Victoria Cross is held by the HM Queen’s Collection.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HM QUEEN'S COLLECTION.
BURIAL PLACE: ENGLISH CEMETERY, FUNCHAL, PORTUGAL. GRAVE 459
Image from the HM Queen's Collection website of Cecil Buckley's VC (front and back)