Coffey’s greatest honour
On 18 November 1856 Coffey was promoted to sergeant at the discharge of Sergeant William, and his good conduct pay was renewed after his promotion. But now his greatest honour was to be bestowed. On 5 February 1857 the London Gazette announced the institution of the Victoria Cross, which was to be awarded ‘For Valour’ in the face of an enemy. Of those NCOs and men of the 34th who had received the DCM and Medaille Militaire, only Coffey’s name was put forward for the VC, although he was joined by the previously undecorated Private Sims who had rescued wounded comrades during the first assault on the Redan.
A list of names was presented to
Queen for her approval on 15 February, and two days later she made it
that she was to present the crosses herself. On 24 February the awards
announced in the London Gazette, with Coffey’s given as
having, on the 29th March, 1855, thrown a lighted shell, that fell into
over the parapet.’
On 12 June the Queen determined that she would make
the presentations fourteen days hence at a Review in Hyde Park, where
as many as
would be able to see and where she would attend on horseback. And so on
1857 came the parade itself.