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The Victoria Cross - Background

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
It is awarded by the British monarch to British and Commonwealth forces.
Gallantry:
  1. the quality or state of being heroic
  2. the quality of mind enabling a person to face danger or hardship with resolution
  3. an act of bravery
  4. dashing courage
Valour:
  1. courage in the face of the enemy
  2. bravery in battle

To date (June 2006), in all branches of the British and Commonwealth forces, there have been 1354 VC's awarded.

The first recipient of the Victoria Cross was an Irishman, 20 year old Royal Navy mate, Lt Charles Davis Lucas. He was born in Drumargole, County Armagh, in 19 February 1834.

It was awarded to him in June 1854 for his action on board "HMS Hecla" while bombarding Bomarsund, a fort in the Aland Islands, Finland, during the Crimean War in the Baltic.

The Victoria Cross is not a Maltese Cross, but is more accurately described as a cross patté.

All Victoria Crosses are now issued with a 1.5 inch wide Crimson Ribbon. At one time they had dark blue ribbons for the Royal Navy and crimson for the Army. But, in 1918, at the time of formation of the Royal Air Force, King Edward approved that a crimson ribbon would now be used for all arms of the services.

The Cross is 1.375 inches wide and has a total weight of 0.87 ounces.

The front of the bar is adorned with laurel leaves and the back is engraved with the recipient's details. The date of the act of valour is engraved in the centre circle. Details on the suspender bar include the number, rank, name and regiment, or other description of the recipient.

The Victoria Cross was designed by H.H. Armstead, an employee of the jewellers, Messrs. Hancocks and Co., Burlington Gardens London W1, who still supply them. The design of the Cross first received royal approval.

Originally, the metallic materials used in the construction of the Victoria Cross came from gunmetal taken from Russian guns captured in the Crimean War, but since the end of the First World War it has been made from metal taken from captured Chinese guns.

The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross
"for valour"


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