One of the first recipients of the Victoria Cross was James Gorman, a seaman with the Royal Naval Brigade during the Crimean War which began on 28 March 1854.

He was a member of the crew of H.M.S. Albion at the outbreak of the war with Russia and, although only 19 or 20 years of age, he volunteered to form one of the celebrated Naval Brigade.

During the campaign he performed many deeds of bravery. The first of them, duly noted, was when he saved the life of Captain (later Admiral Sir Stephen) Lushington, RX, after he had been unhorsed and was surrounded by the enemy.

His next deed of conspicuous bravery was at the battle of Inkerman, a village in the Crimean Peninsular, situated near the eastern extremity of the harbour of Sebastopol.

The battle of Balaclava was fought on 25 October 1854 and this was followed by the battle of Inkerman on 5 November 1854. It was mainly a soldiers' battle, in which the Royal Naval Brigade participated and which was fought at the start in dense fog and light rain. Taken unawares, and short of ammunition, the force of 8,000 British sustained hand‑to‑hand combat against six times that number of Russians, commanded by Prince Menzikov, until 6,000 French soldiers came to their aid, and inflicted a defeat on the enemy.

Seaman James Gorman, during that epic battle, protected, at the risk of his life, wounded soldiers and sailors at the Lankester Battery.

Three times the English were forced to evacuate and there were many dead and wounded. At length, notwithstanding the order to retire, James Gorman, together with four others, stood at the battery until reinforcements arrived and the strategically important position was saved. Many wounded owed their lives to his act of heroism as the Russians showed no mercy to any wounded enemy. It was for this act of valour that James Gorman was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Crimean War ended in March 1856 when a Peace Treaty was signed at Paris.

James Gorman gave loyal service to his country and, in addition to his Victoria Cross, he possessed the Crimean Medal with clasps for Sebastopol and Inkerman; the Turkish Medal, presented by the Sultan and the Chinese War Medal, with clasp for Canton.

With his Victoria Cross he received an annual gratuity of £10.

He emigrated to Australia and, for fifteen years, was an officer on board the training ship Vernon under Right Wor.Bro. Captain Neitenstein, where he was held in high esteem for his sterling qualities by both officers and boys.

He was subsequently appointed to take charge of the gunpowder magazine on Spectacle Island in Sydney's Parramatta River. The first powder magazine was erected on the island in 1863‑4 but it was not until 1876 that the Governor of New South Wales, Bro. Sir Hercules Robinson, G.C.M.G., signed the Proclamation which declared the island a 'public magazine'.

In 1883, the Premier of New South Wales, Bro. (Sir) Alexander Stuart, transferred control to the British Admiralty 'for the storage of powder, mines and other warlike stores for Her Majesty's Navy.'

Bro. James Gorman, V.C., died on Spectacle Island, after a short illness, on 18 October 1882.

He was buried in the Balmain cemetery and the officers, and a strong detachment of boys from T.S. Vernon attended the funeral, the naval salute being given by a firing party composed of the boys. A large number of Officers of ‑the Grand Lodge of New South Wales also attended at the graveside.

Bro. Gorman was survived by his wife and daughter.

James Gorman's portrait, with a representation of the fight of the Lankester Battery, was housed at the Victoria Cross Gallery, London, and a reproduction appeared in the Illustrated London News.

Bro. James Gorman was initiated in The Leinster Marine Lodge of Australia in Sydney on 12 August 1878. The lodge records show his situation as second officer on the training ship Vernon. His lodge, at the time of his initiation, was No. 1 on the register of the Grand Lodge of New South Wales. It had been consecrated in 1824 as No. 266, Irish Constitution, and it subsequently accepted warrant No. 2 at the inauguration of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales in 1888.


Information supplied from the book " Australian and New Zealand Freemasons and the Victoria Cros" by Grahame Cumminge PDGM UGL of NSW & ACT