An interesting Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Victoria wide suspension, awarded to Ships Corporal Edward O’Connell, Royal Navy, who had a most eventful service, being a Landsman aboard Powerful during the Syrian Campaign of 1840. He was injured in the Ionians and lost a finger amputated whilst aboard the brig Mutine in July 1847, and would loose an eye from an another accident whilst aboard Superb as a Gunner’s Mate in 1852. As a Ships Corporal he saw service aboard the frigate Dauntless in the Baltic Campaign and the Crimean Campaigns, and in the latter was present at the bombardment of Sebastopol.
Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Victoria wide suspension; (E. O’CONNELL SHIPS. CORPL: H.M.S. MAJESTIC 20YRS.)
Condition: slight contact wear and edge bruising, hence Very Fine.
Edward O’Connell was born on 4th May 1822 in Whitegate, County Cork, Ireland, and first joined the Royal Navy at the age of 22 in 1839, when he first gave his name as Edward Connor, and did not adopt the “Connell surname till he joined his second ship, H.M.S Queen in 1842. O’Connell was appointed as a Landsman to the 84 gun second rate ship of the line H.M.S. Powerful on 25th May 1840. From 1 January 1839 to the end of 1840 H.M.S. Powerful was commanded by Captain Charles Napier, mainly in the Mediterranean and for much of the time as lead ship of a detached squadron under Napier's orders. After a year in the Mediterranean while the political situation changed, the ship took a prominent part in the Syrian War against the expansionist designs of Mehmet Ali, notably at the bombardment of Acre, 3 November 1840, where she sustained damage but no casualties. Powerful was then flagship of the squadron that blockaded Alexandria from 25 November.
In 1841 Napier was succeeded as her captain by George Mansel, and then Sir Michael Seymour, who commanded her from 1841. Paid off from Powerful, O’Connell joined the 110 gun first rate H.M.S Queen as an Able Seaman on 22nd January 1842, and was present aboard her when the ship was inspected by Queen Victoria. Transferring to the 84 gun second rate H.M.S Formidable on 22nd April 1844, he then joined the shore establishment H.M.S Excellent on 22nd October 1845, before being appointed to the 12 gun brig H.M.S Mutine on 8th October 1846. In early 1847 she sailed for duty in the Mediterranean, and departed Gibraltar for Malta in May. By July 1847 she was at Corfu, and it was whilst at anchor at Argostali, a town on the island of Kafalonia in the Ionian Islands, that O’Connell was invalided from her on 3rd July 1847, he having suffered an accident, probably in preparing to set sail, which resulted in having an “amputated middle finger right hand”, he having most likely caught it in the rigging, a very common injury amongst seamen.
From 4th July she 1847, O’Connell was borne on the books of H.M.S Hecla, a 4 gun paddle sloop which was then on service in the Ionian Islands, and was at that moment employed in the salvage of the “May Queen”, prior to departing for home waters. On arrival home, O’Connell was transferred from Hecla to Excellent on 13th January 1848. He then joined the 80 gun second rate H.M.S Superb as a Gunner’s Mate on 1st December 1848, when she was stationed at Portsmouth, and it was whilst aboard her that he suffered another accident, and according to the hospital records of Haslar Hospital at Portsmouth, O’Connell was ‘suffering from ophthalmia resulting in the need to remove his right eye”. This type of eye injury was common amongst seamen who may have been caught by the whiplash of a parting rope or similar.
Following the loss of his eye, O’Connell was out of naval service for two years from 1852 to 1854, but was then allowed to return, being then employed as a Ships Corporal, who aboard ship acted as a form of policeman. Posted to the frigate H.M.S Dauntless on 16th January 1854 as her Ships Corporal, he then participated in the Baltic Campaign of 1854 followed by the Crimean Campaign where he was involved in the bombardment of Sebastopol during 1855. Upon his return from the east, O’Connell was posted to H.M.S Victory at Portsmouth on 14th March 1857, and then joined the gunboat H.M.S Hastings on 15th April 1857, before being finally posted aboard the 80 gun second rate H.M.S Majestic on 1st February 1860, which vessel was then employed as part of the stationary defences at Liverpool harbour. Upon his discharge from her on 31st March 1861, O’Connell was awarded the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He is additionally entitled to the Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, with clasp for Syria; the Baltic Medal 1854; and the Crimea Medal 1854-1855 with Sebastopol clasp, along with the Turkish Crimea Medal