Whilst walking into the town center I noticed the above large rock which was inlaid with a bronze plaque describing an engagement in 1854.
In 1854 during the Crimean War a landing party from HMS Hecla was attacked by a large body of Cossacks and many would have been killed if it had not been for the courage of two sailors who taking cover behind this stone kept the enemy at bay until the safety of the whole party was assured. After the engagement the commander of the vessel Captain Hall had this boulder carried to his ship and transported to Portsmouth.
HMS Hecla was a 2nd class steam powered sloop launched on 14 January 1839, she was armed with 6 guns had a wooden hull and a displacement of 1096 tons, she was sold in 1863.
Napier was a highly popular admiral but he and his fleet had come under public and parliamentary criticism for lack of success against the enemy. The Russians were content to stay in port sheltering inside their coastal fortresses, one of which was at Bomarsund which guarded the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia.
Although perhaps not normally good tactics for ships to attack heavily defended shore forts on 21 June 1854 Captain Hall commanding HMS Hecla led his ship and the two 16-gun paddle-steamers HMS Odin and HMS Valorous through the narrow channel to Bomarsund.
Although the ships were fired on by troops and artillery from the shore and also from the main batteries in the fort all three ships dropped anchor in the evening and began an intermittent bombardment which lasted until one o'clock the next morning. This apparently resuted in little lasting damage to the shore defences and although Captain Hall was later commended by the King of Sweden he was criticised by the Admiralty for using so much ammunition.
At the height of the bombardment a live shell from an enemy battery landed on Hecla's upper-deck, with its fuse still hissing. All hands were ordered to fling themselves flat on the deck, but Lucas ran forward, picked up the shell and tossed it overboard. It exploded before it hit the water resulting in some minor damage to the ship and two men being slightly hurt but thanks to Lucas nobody was killed or seriously wounded. He was immediately promoted to Acting Lieutenant for his bravery and the Admiralty later confirmed the promotion on Napier's strongest recommendation. Lucas's Cross was gazetted in the first list of 24th February 1857 and he was present at the first Investiture to receive his Cross from Queen Victoria in Hyde Park on 26th June that year.
As a side note Captain Hall's only daughter married the then Captain Charles Davis Lucas in 1879.