Assistant Clerk George William Muir served as Captain Stephen Lushington's ADC until the latter was knighted and promoted to Rear-Admiral at the beginning of July 1855, being replaced as Commander of the Naval Brigade by Captain The Honourable Henry Keppel who landed with his own small staff on the 12th of that month. Stephen Lushington clearly viewed his friend George Muir's son GWM as his protégé and responsibility. Sadly none of GWM's letters home to Malta have survived, for letters there surely were - it is inconceivable that he didn't write to his mother and father. Malta was abandoned by the Muirs at the end of the 1860s and it seems very little was brought back to England. If the letters had been preserved and did make it back, they have since been lost. Very likely he kept a journal as well.
 
In fact there is only one story about GWM from the war in the canon of our family mythology. Writing in the 1960s, GWM's surviving daughter Grace, sparingly, but touchingly recounted an incident she must have heard from her mother:
 
    “Stephen Lushington - family friend - who watching from tent door saw father [GWM] plus horse disappear under enemy cannon shot. Later he was writing to Malta with news of death - when looking up saw father at door he broke down.”
 
In his “Reminiscences of a Midshipman's Life from 1850-1856” (Eden, Remington &Co, London & Sydney, 1893) GWM's future shipmate Cecil Sloane-Stanley described the arrival of Captain Lushington aboard Albion in July 1852 and there are subsequent anecdotes about the man. Lushington was fairly short with a florid face and a paunch. He suffered from gout and was in the habit of sitting in a chair on the poop or quarter deck. He was witty and sharp, liked a good joke and was not averse to engaging in banter with the young gentlemen. He was an expert and experienced sailor and was obviously liked and respected by his men. He had also seen action - something of a rarity amongst the officer class in the Crimea. (He had been at Navarino in 1827 and Kastro Morea in 1828).
 
Lushington's Second-in-Command was Captain William Peel of the Diamond, the youngest, most glamourous Post Captain in the Royal Navy. William Peel had two midshipmen as ADCs of the same age as GWM. They were Henry Evelyn Wood, who was to win the VC in India and eventually become a Field Marshal in the Army, and Edward St. John Daniel. This young man was the first, and sole officer out of a total of eight persons to forfeit the Victoria Cross. Daniel was put forward for, and eventually received the VC for three acts of bravery while with Peel (who was also awarded the medal for valour): the first on the 17th October; the second at Inkerman on the 5th of November and the third at the Redan on the 18th of June 1855 when it is generally agreed he saved Peel's life. Five years later, in June 1861, (after more excellent service with Peel in the Indian Mutiny), while serving in HMS Victor Emanuel in the Mediterranean, he was involved in a “disgraceful offence” which resulted in him being taken under arrest to Corfu for court martial. The offence has never been satisfactorily explained, although it seems likely he had assaulted a fellow officer after an insult. The court martial never took place because he escaped and 'ran' from Corfu, effectively disappearing into the ether. He was removed from the Navy List and forfeited his VC in September of the same year.
 
Another less controversial colleague of GWM was Midshipman Charles Augustus Hayward of the Wasp. He was the second son of James Hayward of Loudwater House, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire and was ten months younger than GWM. He was almost certainly, but as yet unproved, another ADC to Stephen Lushington and so probably shared a tent with GWM. He was to die on board HMS Virago at Montevideo on the 27th of March 1858 aged 19.

The Royal Naval Brigade camp in the Crimea
(From a drawing in the Crimea by W. Simpson R.I.)
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The Royal Naval Brigade drawing guns
up from Balaklava to the siege batteries
(From a print in the Illustrated News)
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Blue Jackets battery in the Left Attack
of the siege works before Sevastopol
(From a drawing in the Crimea by W. Simpson R.I.)
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Map of Sevastopol & siege works
(From a map by W. & R. Chambers, Edin. & Lon.) Click for large version in a new browser
British Left & Right Attacks bottom centre
 
 

Captain William Peel (1824-1858)
Second in Command of the Royal Naval Brigade
(From a lythograph by J. W. Lynch)
Lieutenant     13 May 1844
Commander   27 Jun 1846
Captain          10 Jan 1849
VC 1855, KCB 1858
Early Naval Victoria Cross with blue ribbon
Much to his disappointment, Midshipman Cecil Sloane-Stanley did not get to go ashore with the Naval Brigade. However, he did get to make a number of trips to the camp and the batteries, either running errands or as purely social visits. GWM features in several of his accounts of these trips:
 
    “ …and shortly afterwards hove in sight of the Brigade. They have all shifted to the top of the hill, except one or two of the officers' tents. Found all of them just about to start off for a ride to the Tchernaya. Masson [prob. Asst. Surgeon George Mason] and Muir both looking well. Had luncheon and then mounted one of Muir's horses and set off with Barnett [Midshipman John B. Barnett] for the Tchernaya.”
 
    “ …We arrived at Naval Camp a little after four bells, and found Muir and M., Barnett being, as I expected, in battery. We had a yarn and some breakfast with Muir, and then I mounted Barnett's horse and rode out to the batteries escorted by D. …After this returned to the battery and had some cold punch with Barnett. Returned to camp and dined with Muir, then off to Kasatch.”
 
On the 9th September 1855 the Allies finally entered Sevastopol and not long afterwards most elements of the Naval Brigade were re-embarked by the Fleet. GWM was probably already afloat again, because his boss Lushington had been promoted to Rear-Admiral, knighted, and replaced as Commander ashore by Captain The Honourable Henry Keppel in the middle of July. What is known is that GWM was in HMS Hannibal at the bombardment and capture of Kinburn on the 17th of October. The Russian forts at Kinburn were on a spit near the mouth of the River Dnieper on the north shore of the Black Sea, west of the Crimea. Hannibal was a Screw Steam Ship of 90 guns and the Flag Ship of Rear-Admiral Sir Houston Stewart, of whom more later.

The arms of Victor Emanuel, King of Sardinia
Sardinian troops joined the Allies in summer 1855
 
 
 
John Barker Barnett (b. 28 Aug 1833)
HMS Albion and Royal Naval Brigade
Lieutenant     22 Sep 1855
Commander   11 Apr 1866
Captain          22 Nov 1876
 
 

The Governor of Kinburn surrenders to the Allies
17 Oct 1855 (From a contemporary print)
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Recommendation for the Victoria Cross was made by Sir Stephen Lushington to the commander of the British Fleet, Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons who endorsed it and passed it on to the Admiralty. This was of course the very early days of the VC and I dare say no one was really very sure how it worked, as a pattern hadn't been established. I have no wish to take anything away from anyone's brave deeds, but I don't think it is unfair to say that it was probably a lot 'easier' to get a VC in its earliest days than it became in later times. Quite naturally, there were certainly a lot awarded in the first flush after its institution.
 
However, whether his deeds had been deserving or otherwise, GWM was not to be one of them, despite the obvious consternation of Lushington and Lyons. It seems that in the final analysis the Admiralty decided that because GWM was in the Civil Branch of the Navy, he was not elligible. Apparently he was offered a transfer to the Active Branch, to become a sea officer in other words, which would have meant he would have satisfied the bureaucrats and could have had a VC. Lushington then advised against this move on career grounds and GWM took the advice and refused the offer.
 
War & Meritorious Services in “Lean's Royal Navy List, January 1883” contains the following passage under the “Paymasters, (Active)” heading:
 
    “MUIR, G. W., served in "Albion” in Black Sea during Crimean war, 1854-55; was landed after the battle of the Alma to embark Russian wounded, during which service was attacked by the Russians; landed on 1st October, 1854, as A.D.C. to Captain Lushington, commanding Naval Brigade before Sebastopol; was engaged on the 25th October and 5th November at the battle of Inkermann, when he had charge of a rocket party, and was present at the attack on the Redan, 18th June 1855, four times mentioned in despatches; present in 'Hannibal' at the capture of Kinburn (Crimea and Turkish Medals, Sebastopol and Inkermann Clasps, and Legion of Honour).”
 

(Note: Different spellings for Crimean place names have been used in these pages. I prefer Sevastopol, Balaklava and Inkerman. However, where quoted directly from original or contemporary sources those spellings have been used, which are often Sebastopol, Inkermann and Balaclava.)
Cecil George Sloane-Stanley
Midshipman of HMS Albion
Sub-Lieutenant   07 Aug 1856
Lieutenant          15 May 1858
Commander        25 Oct 1867
Retired Captain   01 Oct 1873
 
 
HMS Hannibal 90 guns
Steam Screw Ship, Hannibal Class
Built Deptford Dockyard
Ordered 1847, Launched 1854
Hulked 1874
 
 
 

Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons Bart. GCB
(From an engraving, 1853)
 
 
 

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of VC Recommendation papers
 
 

Click on ribbon strip for GWM's medals, L to R:
Crimea Medal with Inkermann & Sebastopol clasps
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur
Turkish Crimea Medal
(Crimea Medal is not GWM's original)
 
 
Click for 3rd page about G. W. Muir »