William Peel (Royal Navy officer)
|Sir William Peel|
2 November 1824|
|Died||27 April 1858
|Buried at||Old British Cemetery, Cawnpore|
|Relations||Sir Robert Peel (father)|
|Other work||Travel writer|
Captain Sir William Peel VC KCB (2 November 1824 – 27 April 1858) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the third son of the Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. Like his father, he was educated at Harrow School.
He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and thus became Sir William Peel.
Peel was a Captain in the Royal Navy, serving with the Naval Brigade during the Crimean War. On 18 October 1854 at the Siege of Sevastopol, he picked up a live shell with the fuse still burning from amongst several powder cases and threw it over the parapet. The shell burst as it left his hands. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC); it is now displayed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.
On 5 November at the Battle of Inkerman, he joined some of the officers of the Grenadier Guards and helped to defend the Colours of the regiment when they were hard-pressed. On 18 June 1855 he led the first scaling party at the assault on the redan, and was himself severely wounded. On each of these occasions Captain Peel was accompanied by a young midshipman, Edward St. John Daniel as Aide-de-camp.
Captain Peel wrote A Ride through the Nubian Desert (1852), detailing his travels of the preceding year.
There is a statue of William Peel by William Theed in the south transept of Saint Swithun's Church, Sandy, in Bedfordshire. There are two copies of this statue, one in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich  and one which was erected in Eden Gardens, Calcutta. This statue was moved to Barrackpore in 1977 and was due to be moved back to Calcutta in 2004 amid some confusion over its identity: it was thought to be Peel's father, Robert Peel.
Opposite Sandy church across the High Street stands the Sir William Peel pub.
A plaque at The Lodge, headquarters of the RSPB in Sandy, commemorates the 150th anniversary of the death of Captain Sir William Peel. It is situated near the Swiss Cottage which he built in the 1850s, which is now the gatehouse to The Lodge, built by his brother Arthur Wellesley Peel. A similar plaque is mounted on a bench on Sandy High Street.
- Victoria Cross (MED1252)
- Memorial Details, "Memorials in Southsea - HMS Shannon -", Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth
- A Brief History of St Swithun's Church
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Peel, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
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