Matthew Hughes was a soldier in the 7th Royal Fusiliers which he joined in 1840, aged 18 years. In April 1854 the regiment arrived in the Crimea, the war just having recently broken out. Hughes found himself involved in the siege of Sevastopol. On 7th June during an attack on ‘Quarries’, private Hughes, on two occasions, crossed open ground under heavy enemy fire to bring back much-needed ammunition.
Despite being a short man, just 5 ft in height, private Hughes then went up to the front and brought back private John Hampton, who was severely wounded. For these deeds, Hughes was later awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation mentions a second act of bravery which occurred during the assault on the Redan on 18th June, when he volunteered to bring back Lieutenant Hobson of the 7th Fusiliers who was lying severely wounded. During this act Hughes was wounded in the knee by a shell fragment. In the action on the Redan he was wounded in the foot. Hughes recovered from his wounds and returned to England with the Crimean Medal with three clasps.
Hughes was presented with his Victoria Cross medal by Queen Victoria on 26 June 1857, at the inaugural investiture held in Hyde Park London.