- Name: John Edmund COMMERELL
- D.O.B: 13th Jan, 1829
- D.O.A: 11th Oct, 1855
- D.O.D: 21st May, 1901
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Commander, HMS Weser, Royal Navy
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
The Crimean shore of the Putrid Sea, off the Sea of Azov, Russia 11 October 1855
11 October 1855
The Crimean War
On 11 October 1855 Commander J E Commerell of HMS Weser in the Sea of Azov, accompanied by his Quartermaster W Rickard and Mate G Milestone, together with two other crew members, landed a small boat on the Spit of Arabat, dragged it over the Spit, then rowed across the Putrid Sea to the Crimean Coast near the Salgir river. Leaving two sailors to guard the boat, they moved inland and set fire to a major Russian forage store. On the way back, Milestone was overcome by exhaustion, but Commerell and Rickard managed to bring him to safety.
“When commanding the ‘Weser,’ in the Sea of Azoff, crossed the Isthmus of Arabat, and destroyed large quantities of forage on the Crimean shore of the Sivash.” This enterprise was performed by Commander Commerell, at night, accompanied by William Rickard, Quartermaster, and George Milestone, A.B. Having hauled their small boat across the Spit of Arabat, they traversed the Sivash to the Crimean shore of the Putrid Sea. The magazine of corn, of which they were in search, lay about two miles and a-half off, and to reach it they had to ford two rivers, the Kara-su and the Salghir. The forage and corn, amounting to 400 tons, were stacked on the banks of the latter river, in the vicinity of a guard-house, and close to from twenty to thirty mounted Cossacks, who were encamped in the neighbouring village. Commander Commerell and his two companions contrived to ignite the stacks, the rapid blazing of which alarmed the guard, who pursued them to the shore with a heavy fire of musketry, and very nearly succeeded in taking them prisoners.