William Odgers

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William Odgers
Born(1834-02-14)14 February 1834
Falmouth, Cornwall
Died20 December 1873(1873-12-20) (aged 39)
Saltash, Cornwall
BuriedSt Stephen's Churchyard, Saltash
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
RankQuartermaster
UnitHMS Niger
Battles/warsFirst Taranaki War
AwardsVictoria Cross

William Odgers VC (14 February 1834 – 20 December 1873) was a Royal Navy sailor and a 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[edit]

Odgers was born in Falmouth, Cornwall, on 14 February 1834.

Victoria Cross[edit]

Odgers was 26 years old, and a leading seaman in the Royal Navy during the First Taranaki War in New Zealand when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 28 March 1860 at Omata, Leading Seaman Odgers of HMS Niger displayed conspicuous gallantry when a party of officers, sailors and marines from the ship stormed Kaipopo Pa during operations against Maori insurgents. His citation read:

On the 28th of March, 1860, William Odgers displayed conspicuous gallantry at the Storming of a Pah during operations against Rebel Natives in New Zealand; having been the first to enter it under a heavy fire, and having assisted in hauling down the enemy's colours.[1]

This was the first VC won in New Zealand. A few days later, HMS Niger bombarded two coastal pa at Warea, about 40 kilometres south of New Plymouth, where the defeated Maori force had regrouped, with cannon and rockets.

Controversially this action was labelled a "fictional triumph" and a myth by New Zealand revisionist historian James Belich.[2] However military historian Nigel Prickett asserts the action was a catastrophic defeat for southern insurgents who lost their overall chiefs and most of their lesser chiefs at Kaipopo Pa.[3]

Later life[edit]

Odgers later achieved the rank of quartermaster, and was in the Coast Guard Service. He died in Saltash, Cornwall, on 20 December 1873.

His medal is displayed at Sheesh Mahal Museum, Patiala, India.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 22409". The London Gazette. 3 August 1860. p. 2861.
  2. ^ The New Zealand Wars: (1986, Penguin Books, Auckland)
  3. ^ Maori Casualties of the First Taranaki War, 1860–1861 (2005, Auckland Museum)
  4. ^ Medal location

External links[edit]