William Thomas Rickard VC (10th February to 21stFebruary 1905)

 

Little is known about this brave man but his bones lay at Ryde Cemetery on the Isle Of Wight. I’d visited the cemetery to locate the grave of another soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery but the friendly sexton said, “Oh there’s another VC man in here…..I’ll take you to him.” So here I am at the stone of William Rickard (and his wife.)

 

William was born in Stoke Damerel near Plymouth and I’ve only been able to find out that he joined the Royal Navy and fought in the Crimean War.

 

He was helping the bombardment of Sebastopol (now in the Ukraine) and on 11th October 1855 in the Sea of Azov the 27-year-old seaman volunteered with two others to head off for a dangerous mission: to destroy a 400 tons of food provisions to feed enemy soldiers.

 

In blackness they left their ship and used a small boat to get ashore. They walked for two miles using a small hand compass. They rested then waited for the dawn light. The 400 tons of provisions were inside a large red building however there was a Cossack guard station nearby in the village.

 

The seamen waded through two canals up to their necks to reach the food store. Grain and forage was stacked ready to be transported away. Thankfully the straw was dry and soon set ablaze. Soon 400 tons of dry foods was on fire – what sight! Pity digital camera weren’t around then. A stream of Cossacks came running out of their guard post and the seamen made a run for their lives.