A Victoria Cross awarded after the Crimean War has been put on display at the Museum Of London after it was found on the banks of the Thames - but its owner remains a mystery.

It was awarded for heroic actions at the Battle Of Inkerman in 1854 and is thought to be one of the two that are recorded as missing.

It was discovered by the river and reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which undertook research to find out who it was given to.

The investigation has narrowed it down to two men: Private John McDermond, from the 47th (the Lancashire) Regiment and Private John Byrne from the 68th (Durham) light infantry.

Scottish Pte McDermond saved the life of Lieutenant Colonel O’Grady Haly, who was injured and surrounded by the enemy while leading a charge against an attacking Russian column.

Pte McDermond killed the man who wounded the colonel and drove the others off while the colonel was brought back behind British lines.

The hero was invalided out of the Army in 1862 and reports suggest he was in the poorhouse before he died and then buried in an unmarked grave in Scotland.

Pte Byrne, an Irish Private, earned his medal for successfully returning to rescue a wounded comrade under heavy fire after his regiment had been ordered to retire.

His story culminates in 1879 in Monmouthshire when he allegedly shot a man for insulting the VC medal. John then returned home and when confronted by the police, reportedly took his own life.

Tobias, from Putney, south-west London, said the medal was buried in three inches of mud.

He said to the Daily Mail: “I was detecting in my usual area in December last year when I came across what looked like a large brooch.

“Only when I got home did I realise I had a Victoria Cross on my hands, when I read the writing 'For Valour' below the crown.

"Then I noticed the date on the reverse: November 5, 1854. I could be the only person in the world who has found a VC.”

Experts have valued the medal at around £50,000 but if the missing bar and ribbon were found, its value could increase to £100,000.

The museum's display also includes a record book with the engraving details for each VC issued from 1854-1927 as well as the original medal design from Hancocks, the jewellers who make the medals, and a modern copy of a VC with an original 1856 two-prong fitting.

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