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James Gorman, VC - Introduction By Harry Willey

I have spent considerable time over the last 29 years researching the life and service of James Gorman VC.

Assisted by other historians, I am now convinced this is the full and true story.

This lengthy research was required to correct stories (written by historians over the past one hundred and twenty five years) using a mixture of information on the lives of three men named James Gorman who had served in the Royal Navy between the 2nd March 1848 and 21st August 1860.

The writers of these previous stories were further mislead when James Devereux of Southwark (b Suffolk, 1819) claimed that he had joined the Navy as James Gorman and had been awarded a Victoria Cross for his action's at Sebastopol.

My research has confirmed that James Devereux was an impostor, who following James Gorman's departure for Australia successfully convinced his family and the British press that he was James H. Gorman VC. Of the other three named James Gorman, while two were discharged from the Navy in disgrace the third about whom this story is written, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his courageous devotion to duty at the Battle of Inkermann on the 5th November,1854.

James Devereux may have believed that he was entitled to a Victoria Cross. He may have even deserved it and been recommended for it. It is possible he was, as he claimed, at Sebastopol under the command of Midshipman William Nathan Wrighte Hewett (later Vice Admiral) on the 26th October 1854 and had participated in the action for which Hewett was awarded a Victoria Cross. The one thing is certain is he was not James Gorman VC.

Despite never producing his medals, Devereux's story convinced successive historians in the UK from the 1880s till 1979, that he was the recipient of the Victoria Cross. An Australian Publication "They Dared Mightily" first published the truth about the Devereux fraud in 1986.

The current edition of "The Register of Victoria Cross" has finally printed the correct details and deleted any reference to Devereux.

The following facts are recorded in regard of the service of the two other James Gorman's. AB Wm Gorman served on HMS Shannon and was eligible for the Indian Mutiny Medal 1857-1858 with the Lucknow Clasp. In 1862 he was discharged from the Navy in disgrace.

Seaman James Gorman while serving on HMS Woodcock in September 1857 had been wrongly paid the VC Pension awarded to James Gorman VC. Seaman James Gorman was imprisoned in Hong Kong in 1859 before he was discharged in disgrace.

© Harry Willey, August 2009

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