Sir Nowell Salmon VC GCB

b. 20/02/1835 Swarraton, Hampshire. d. 14/02/1912 Southsea, Hampshire.

Sir Nowell Salmon (1835-1912) was born on 20th February 1835, the son of the Reverend Henry Salmon, Rector of Swarraton, Hampshire, and his wife, Emily, daughter of Admiral Nowell of Iffley, Oxford. His grandfather had served with distinction as a Lieutenant at the Battle of Dominica, and a Commander during the American Revolutionary Wars, but had had to retire from the Royal Navy due to a head wound which led to loss of sight. Nowell was educated at Marlborough College, and entered the Royal Navy in May 1847. During the Crimean conflict of 1854-55, Nowell served as a Midshipman and Mate during the Baltic Campaign. He was promoted to Lieutenant shortly after the end of the Crimean War in January 1856.

Sir Nowell Salmon

A few months later he was appointed to the Shannon, who was commanded by Captain (later Sir) William Peel VC, and they soon set sail for India. In India, Nowell was part of Peel’s Shannon Brigade against the mutineers. At the Second Relief of Lucknow on the 16th November 1857, during an attack on the Residency, the assault on the Shah Najaf Mosque had been waging for over three hours and light was failing. Sir Colin Campbell placed himself at the head of the 93rd Regiment and called on them to follow him. They moved off supported by some of Peel’s guns dragged by sailors and some of the Madras Fusiliers.

When they reached the wall of the Shah Najaf enclosure, they found it to be 20 feet high with no obvious entrance, and no scaling ladders available. Lieutenant Salmon decided to act and began to climb a tree overhanging the wall, in order to see what was behind it. He succeeded in obtaining vital information, but was spotted by the rebels, who opened fire and he was wounded. For his brave actions, Salmon was recommended for, and was awarded the VC (24th December 1858). Following the award of his medal, he was given command of the “Icarus” in the Mediterranean from 1859 to 1863, On the 12th December 1863, he was promoted to Post-Captain and commanded the defence of the West Indies and Mediterranean, aboard the Valiant and the Swiftsure.

On 11th January 1866 at Upwey, Dorset, he married Emily Augusta, daughter of Erasmus Saunders, and they had a son, Geoffrey Nowell Salmon CMG, DSO and a daughter, Eleanor Nowell Salmon. From 1874 to 1879, Nowell Salmon became Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria. He was created a Companion for Bath in 1876. Following his service for the Queen, he was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1879, and from 1882-1885 he was Commander in Chief at the Cape of Good Hope.

He was then promoted to Vice Admiral and a KCB on the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. From December 1887 to January 1891, he was Commander in Chief in China; and became an Admiral on 10th September 1891, before becoming Commander in Chief in Portsmouth from 1894-1897, when he was created GCB. In January 1899, he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, and would retire from the active list in 1905.

He died on Valentine’s Day, 1912, aged 76 at his home, 44 Clarence Parade, Southsea. He had been in frail health for a while and finally succumbed to bronchitis. He was buried in St Peter’s Churchyard, Curdridge, Hampshire. His medals were purchased by the Ashcroft Trust and are in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.