Major General Sir Luke O'Connor VC, KCB was a British soldier. He was the first soldier to receive the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, and was one of the most decorated servicemen ever to have served in the British Army.
He was born in Kilcroy, Hillstreet, near Elphin, County Roscommon in Ireland, and enlisted in the British Army as a young man. At the age of 23, he was a sergeant in the 23rd Regiment of Foot.
During the Crimean War, the 23rd Foot were part of the British force sent to the Crimea. On 20 September 1854, at the Battle of the Alma, Sergeant O'Connor was advancing between two officers, carrying the Colour, when one of them was mortally wounded. Sergeant O'Connor was also shot at the same time, but recovering himself, he snatched up the Colour from the ground and continued to carry it until the end of the action, although urged to retire to the rear on account of his wounds. He also acted with great gallantry at the assault on the Redan where he was shot through both thighs.
The Victoria Cross did not exist at that time, but when it was created in 1856, O'Connor was one of the 62 Crimean veterans invested with it. He was the first recipient from the Army, as opposed to the Royal Navy.