b. 17/06/1838 Portsea, Hampshire. d. 02/10/1896 Windsor Castle Estate, Berkshire.
Edward Robinson (1838-1896) was born on 17th June 1838 in Portsea, Hampshire, and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 14. On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, he was served on HMS Shannon as part of Captain William Peel VC’s Naval Brigade.
On the 13th March 1858, during the assault on the Begum Cotee, Lucknow, Peel’s guns were protected by whatever material was available. On that morning, the English guns were firing as the mutineers were swarming on the far side of the Goomtee River. The enemy returned fire causing some casualties. Due to the extremely hot weather, water was scarce and the defensive works became very dry and inflammable. Shell after shell from the sepoy lines came flying into the English batteries. Suddenly, the earthworks caught fire, and the guns had to be abandoned. A pile of shells stacked next to the British guns when the sandbags caught fire. If the flames had reached the shells there would have been severe casualties and the guns would have been destroyed. There was no time to move the shells to a safer place – the fire would have to be extinguished.
When Captain Peel called for volunteers to put out the fire, Edward Robinson immediately stepped forward. Behind the batteries were several large tubs of water, together with a number of water bags. Robinson picked up several of the bags and quickly filled them. He then leapt over the small wall which was protecting the Naval Brigade from enemy fire and went back to the burning earthworks. Leaping onto them, in full view of the rebels who were 50 yards away, he began to extinguish the flames. Two engineers, who were repairing the earthworks, were shot down beside him. When the water bags were emptied, he went back for more water, and succeeded in pouring gallons of water on the burning sandbags. He made five attempts to put out the flames, and threw clear other sandbags.
Robinson was under heavy musket fire every time he went to the earthworks, but on the 5th occasion, he was shot and seriously wounded. A musket ball had passed through his shoulder, shattering his collar bone and disabling him for life. He was said to also have been struck in the right arm and the neck before collapsing unconscious into a trench. He was pulled to safety by other members of the Naval Brigade. He was recommended for the VC which he was awarded on 24th December 1858. He eventually received his medal from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 4th January 1860.
Due to his injuries, he left the Navy, and in later years, became a gatekeeper at the Windsor Home Park. He died on 2nd October 1896 aged 58, and was buried in Old Windsor Cemetery. His medal is held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM, GREENWICH, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: OLD WINDSOR CHURCH ROAD CEMETERY, WINDSOR.
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Edward Robinson's VC on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (Jan 2015).