Search for VC hero’s family


The search has started to find descendants of a Liverpool man who was awarded a Victoria Cross in the 19th century.

William Connolly, who was awarded the VC for bravery during the Indian Mutiny, is buried in an unmarked grave in Kirkdale Cemetery.

A memorial plaque to mark his grave is to be unveiled and it is hoped that any members of his family who can be traced will be able to attend the ceremony.

Kirkdale Councillor Joe Hanson, explained: “There are only 10 people from Liverpool who have been awarded VCs and we should be proud of what they achieved and recognise their bravery.

“Although there is a headstone for Mr Connolly in Kirkdale cemetery it is not on the site of his grave as the regulations say you cannot have a headstone on a public grave and he was buried with 11 other people. Unfortunately the headstone was recently vandalised but has now been repaired and is back in place.

“We think it is only right that his grave should be properly marked and a flat stone memorial plaque will be placed there.  The details of the ceremony are still being finalised but we are hoping it will take place during the new few weeks and representatives from service organisations will attend. However, it would be great if any members of his family were able to be there.

“It may be a long-shot in tracing them but the award of a VC is so rare that you would think that the story would be handed down through the generations or it could be that people researching their family history have found out about their ancestor’s bravery. If so we would like to see them at the ceremony.”

William Connolly was born in Liverpool in May 1817. He served with the Bengal Horse Artillery and later the Royal Artillery.

He won his VC for his bravery at Jhelum on 7 July 1857 when ,despite sustaining three wounds to his legs through musket balls ,he would not leave his post until he collapsed through loss of blood.  At one point his commanding officer ordered that he be removed from the action  but , he reported “this brave man hearing me, staggered to his feet, and said, ‘ No, Sir,” ‘ I’ll not go there, whilst I can work here,’

Not much is known of his later life other than, unfortunately, he lived in poverty and sold his VC.  His last known address was 14, Westminster Road, Kirkdale. He died on 31 December 1891.

• Any descendants of Mr Connolly are asked to contact the city council on 0151 233 0070

Liverpool Waterfront