Arthur Mayo VC

b. 18/05/1840 Oxford. d. 18/05/1920 Boscombe, Dorset.

Arthur Mayo (1840-1920) was born in Oxford on 18th May 1840, and following his education at Berkhampstead School, he joined the Royal Navy and in 1855, he sailed for India in HMS Wellesley on which he served as a midshipman. Confessing to being unaware of the existence of the Indian Navy, he joined the service on the 18th February 1857 and served for a short period of time on the steam frigate “Punjab”, ferrying the 64th Regiment of Foot from Bombay to Calcutta.

Arthur Mayo VC

In June 1857, following the outbreak of the Mutiny, the officers and men of the “Punjab” were formed into No 4 Detachment of the Naval Brigade and sent from Calcutta to Dacca to help suppress the mutiny in East Bengal. By 22nd November 1857, they had reached Dacca. Led by Lieutenant T.E. Lewis, five officers and 85 men stormed and captured the Treasury. They then went on to the Lall Bagh, a large enclosure, where they found the mutinous sepoys were drawn up in front of the magazine with two 6-pounder guns in the centre. The Lall Bagh had a domed mosque in the centre, a hospital and other buildings. The barracks on top of a hill had been loopholed and was heavily defended by 300-400 sepoys.

The Naval Brigade charged up the hill into the barracks, and quickly broke down the door and rushed inside. They managed to kill a number of the sepoys and captured the barracks. The sailors then charged down the hill and chased the other sepoys who had fled. In the last charge, Midshipman Mayo placed himself 20 yards in front of his men and led the charge with a great cheer, and captured one of the 6 pounder guns.

Mayo remained in the Naval Brigade and was later mentioned in despatches for his part in an expedition into the Arbor Hills in the far north-east of India. The Adi tribe had been causing trouble with their raiding and a small expedition was sent in February 1859. In the capture of a native stockade, Mayo received a wound in his hand from a poisoned arrow and was invalided home.

Lieutenant Lewis praised Mayo’s conduct at Dacca and as a result was awarded the Victoria Cross (citation, 25th February 1862), which he received by registered post in 1862. Over the next three years, Mayo attended Magdalene Hall, Oxford, and graduated with a BA on 18th June 1865. The following year Mayo was ordained Deacon at Salisbury for the Bishop of Exeter and served as assistant curate at Plymouth for about 20 months, but on 5th November 1867 he joined the Catholic Church and lived successfully in Torquay and Malta. In 1901, Arthur moved to live with his youngest sister Margaret in Bournemouth. He then became an active member of the Corpus Christi Church in Boscombe for the last 19 years of his life, before he died on 18th May 1920, aged 80. He was buried in East Cemetery, Boscombe. His medal’s location is unknown, though for a long period of time it was believed that Margaret had sold his medal to the Bombay Museum in 1932. Following some extensive research in 2011, this was proved to be false.