The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is Canada’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
The Canadian Victoria Cross is awarded for “the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty, in the presence of the enemy”. As of January 1st, 1993, it may be presented after death, and it also may be revoked. The biggest difference between the Victoria Cross and the Cross of Valour is the reference to “the enemy”. Which essentially means that the government does not have to officially declare war to award the medal.
It has precedence over any other of the Sovereign’s awards. The medal was founded by Royal Warrant on January 29, 1856 to recognize the bravery of those who were then fighting the Crimean War. The award 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 medal. Four pairs of brothers have been recipients. One Victoria Cross was awarded for action in Canada 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. No woman has been awarded the Victoria Cross, but 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 medal twice. Read more about Canada’s Victoria Cross Medal at Wikipedia.