hew away

Joseph Trewavas

Joseph Trewavas VC CGM (14 December 1835-20 July 1905) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


He was 19 years old, and a Seaman in the Royal Navy during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 3 July 1855 in the Straits of Genitchi, Sea of Azov in the Crimea, Seaman Trewavas of HMS Beagle was sent in a 4-oared gig to destroy a bridge, and so cut the Russians' main supply route. This was the third attempt, the first two having failed. As the gig ground against the bridge, Seaman Trewavas leapt out with an axe and began to hew away at the hawsers holding the pontoons together, and although the enemy kept up a heavy fire, particularly on Trewavas himself, he continued until his task was completed, and the two severed ends of the pontoon began to drift apart. He was wounded as he got back into the gig.

Further information

He later achieved the rank of Able Seaman. He was a member of Cornwall County Council and a valued member of the County Fisheries Committee.

The medal

The medal is housed in the Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance. It is generally not on display, but can be seen on appointment.



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