Thomas Esmonde (VC)

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Thomas Esmonde
The Battle of Sebastopol.png
Depiction of the Siege of Sebastopol
Born (1829-08-25)25 August 1829
Pembrokestown, County Waterford, Ireland
Died 14 January 1872(1872-01-14) (aged 42)
Bruges, Belgium
Buried Bruges Cemetery
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1851–1868
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit 18th Regiment of Foot
Battles/wars Crimean War
Second Anglo-Burmese War
Awards Victoria Cross

Thomas Esmonde, VC (25 May 1829 – 14 January 1872[1]) was a British Army officer and an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and family[edit]

Esmonde was born in Pembrokestown, County Waterford, the son of Captain James Esmonde of the Royal Navy. His older brother was Sir John Esmonde, 10th Baronet,[2] and he was the great-uncle of Eugene Esmonde, who was to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.


Grave of Thomas Esmonde (Central Cemetery, Bruges, plot 4)

Esmonde was 26 years old, and a captain in the 18th Regiment of Foot (later The Royal Irish Regiment), British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place and for which he was awarded the VC.

On 18 June 1855 at Sebastopol, Crimean Peninsula, after being engaged in the attack on the Redan, Captain Esmonde repeatedly assisted, at great personal risk, in rescuing wounded men from exposed situations. Also, on 20 June while in command of a covering party he rushed to a spot where a fireball from the enemy had just lodged, and extinguished it before it could betray the position of his men, thus saving the party from a murderous fire of shell and grape which was immediately opened where the fireball had fallen.[3]

Esmonde later achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel before selling his commission in December 1868.

Final years[edit]

In april 1869 his wife, Mathilde O'Kelly, their five children, her father and two servants came to live in Bruges. As for Thomas Esmonde, he was at that time allready collocated in the St Julian psychiatric hospital in Bruges.

In 1872, he seems to have suffered a riding accident when a branch struck his eye. Both of his eyes became infected, and he died in Bruges, in St Julian's, on 14 January 1872.

He was buried at the Central cemetery of Bruges. In 2017 his grave was restored by volunteers of the Victoria Cross Trust.


  • Roland ROTSAERT Thomas Esmonde en zijn graf op de Centrale Begraafplaats, in: Brugs Ommeland, 2017.


External links[edit]