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Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:22

The VC Citation and the deed which won him the medal
The citation for the VC as announced in the London Gazette 24th February 1857;

“In the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava Trumpet-Major Crawford’s horse fell and dismounted him, and he lost his sword: he was attacked by two Cossacks, when Private Samuel Parkes (whose horse had been shot), saved his life by placing himself between them and the Trumpet-Major, and drove them away with his sword. In attempting to follow the Light Brigade in the retreat, they were attacked by six Russians, whom Parkes kept
at bay, and retired slowly, fighting, and defending the Trumpet-Major for some time, until deprived of his sword by a shot.”

VC MedalPARKES WAS IN FACT THE SECOND ARMY MAN TO BE PRESENTED WITH THIS AWARD, RECEIVING IT FROM THE QUEEN HERSELF AT A CEREMONY HELD IN HYDE PARK ON 26TH JUNE 1857 (THIS WAS LATER LOST AND A SECOND AWARD MADE).

‘The Retreat down the Valley of Death’

The 4th Light Dragoons reached the guns without difficulty. However, during the retreat, terrible things were to happen to the men of the 4th Light Dragoons. Both Lord Paget’s trumpeter, Hugh Crawford and Samuel Parkes who had been by their Colonel’s side throughout, lost their horses in quick succession. Crawford’s horse collapsed of exhaustion trapping his sword under it’s bulk, and he was just about to fall victim to two Cossacks when Parkes heedless of these Cossacks swarming nearby, intervened, driving the Cossacks off. Parkes then dragged the injured and now unarmed Crawford from under his horse and supported him with one arm, they tried to escape this awful Valley of Death on foot. It was not long before they were joined by Private Edden of the 4th Light Dragoons, whose horse had also been shot. He was a Tamworth man like Parkes. These three men tried to run for freedom to escape the Valley of Death.

After a short distance they came across Major Halkett who was second in command of their regiment. He had collapsed on the ground with a hideous wound in his side. The gallant Halkett asked the men to take his money for the women at home, leave him and seek for safety to save themselves. Ignoring Halkett’s pleas to save themselves, Edden, the injured Crawford and another man named Whiteman managed to lift Halkett onto Parkes’ back. They had gone only a short way when six Russian Lancers rode towards them. Halkett pleaded with Parkes to put him down and save himself. Initially Parkes Refused, these Russian Lancers then encircled this group. Samuel Parkes fought like a madman, Halkett on his back, his arm around Crawford and slashing at the Russians with his other hand

Parkes finally had to concede to Halkett’s request leaving him with a sword in his hand. Parkes kept the Russians at bay, fighting and retiring slowly. This gave Edden and others precious time to make their escape. Parkes fought like a tiger to defend himself and Crawford until finally he was shot in his sword arm. The two men were taken prisoner and dragged past the now dead body of Halkett back to the Russian lines.

For his selfless courage and devotion to Crawford. Private Samuel Parkes was awarded the VC.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 May 2010 09:48
 
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