Today I am going to talk about a great example of human dedication.
Doing what it takes to be awarded the Victoria Cross in my mind is one of the most ultimate forms of human dedication.
It is the highest award for gallantry that a British and Commonwealth Serviceman and woman.
It is linked with acts of extreme bravery and the original document associated with the medal stated that it could only be awarded for “gallantry of the highest order.” The award is especially given to persons who, in the presence of the enemy, display the most conspicuous gallantry; a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice; or extreme devotion to duty.
The Victoria Cross had its origins in the Crimean War. This was the first major war that was reported on by war correspondents in the field. At this time, only senior officers were awarded medals for bravery as it was deemed that it was their leadership that drove men on to victory.
MP’s from the Commons decided, on December 19th, 1854, that the Queen, Victoria, should create a medal: “an order of merit for distinguished and prominent personal gallantry to which every grade and individual from the highest to the lowest may be admissible.”
Senior military figures were against such a medal.
They believed that the strength of the British Army lay in its ability to fight in formations on the command of an officer.
There was a concern that individuals might engage in acts of individual bravery (in an attempt to win the medal) and break the strength of a formation in doing so. However, the idea had one major supporter – Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.
His support for the medal quickly won the backing of Victoria herself. The objections of senior military commanders were overridden. Victoria and Albert ordered the War Office to come up with an idea for such a medal and Prince
Albert suggested its name – the Victoria Cross.
The Victoria Cross was meant to have a simple design though in an era when medals for bravery were anything but simple, the design won few friends in the media of the time.
The first one was made to the specifications of Prince Albert who wanted a “simple cross”. It is said that Victoria was delighted by the final version – she added a V to link the medal ribbon to the medal itself.
Facts and figures about the Victoria Cross.
Created on 29 January 1856.
It is hand- made, traditionally using bronze taken from a gun captured in the Crimean War.
The Victoria Cross was deliberately intended to have little actual value. Its value lies in what it stands for and what people do to earn it: be extremely brave.
The inscription on the Victoria Cross is “For Valour”, a traditional word for bravery. It was personally chosen by Queen Victoria, after whom the medal was named. The Queen turned down the first
suggestion, “For the Brave”, explaining that all her solders were brave.
Role of Gallantry: Victoria Cross winners in the past
The two youngest recipients of the Victoria Cross were Thomas Flinn in 1857 and Andrew Fitzgibbon in 1860. Both were 15 years and 3 months.
The oldest recipient of the Victoria Cross was 69 year old William Raynor who defended an ammunition store in Delhi for five hours in 1857.
Three fathers and sons have earned the Victoria Cross, including Major Charles Gough in 1857 and his son Major John Gough in 1903.
Four pairs of brothers have earned the Victoria Cross, including Major
Charles Gough and his brother
Lieutenant Hugh Gough in 1858.
The medals of Charles Gough form part of the Lord Ashcroft
Collection and are displayed in this gallery.
Only three people have received the Victoria Cross twice: Surgeon Captain Arthur Martin-Leake in 1902, 1914
Captain Noel Chavasse in 1916 and 1917 and Captain Charles Upham in 1941 and 1942.
It was only in 1902 that the Victoria Cross started to be awarded ‘posthumously’ (to people who died while carrying out their brave act).
PC: Captain Noel Chavasse