The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the realm’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. It has precedence over any other of the Sovereign’s awards. The Victoria Cross was founded by Royal Warrant on January 29, 1856 to recognize the bravery of those who were then fighting the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross was available to soldiers of all ranks and “neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstance or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous bravery” could make one eligible.
The Cross itself is cast from the bronze of cannons captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean War. The design, chosen by Queen Victoria, consists of a cross patee ensigned with the Royal Crest, resting upon a scroll bearing the words “For Valour”. The reverse of the suspender bar is engraved with the recipient’s name, rank, and unit. The reverse of the Cross itself, bears the date of the deed for which the recipient was honoured.
Since its inception, the Victoria Cross has been awarded 1,351 times. The youngest recipient was 15 years old (Newfoundland’s Tommy Ricketts) and the eldest was 69 years in age. Three cases exist where both father and son have won the Victoria Cross: four pairs of brothers have also been recipients. One Victoria Cross was awarded for action in Canada – that to Private T. O’Hea of the Rifle Brigade (Irish) for extinguishing a fire in the ammunition car of a train. Four Victoria Crosses have been awarded to civilians, and while no woman has been awarded the Victoria Cross, a gold representation of the decoration was awarded to Mrs. W. Harris for her efforts in nursing cholera victims. Three men have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice. Read more about Canada’s Victoria Cross Medal at Wikipedia