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The Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

Ballad of the Victoria Cross

I am the pride of the valiant Brave:
I am the shame of the coward knave:
Look tho’ the world - Is there prouder need
Than the plain bronze Cross of the golden deed

Harold Begbie


The Bravest of the Brave

The story of the Victoria Cross starts with the Crimean War, the first war to be covered by proper war correspondents, men whose despatches not only told a horrified nation of the conditions in which the wounded and sick suffered, but also the stories of the heroes. Enthralled by these stories - as indeed were her subjects - Queen Victoria decided that acts of heroism should be rewarded. She wanted a medal which was available to every man whatever his rank, and so it was ordained that:

“With a view to place all persons on a perfectly equal footing in relation to eligibility for the decoration, neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstances or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous bravery shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to the honour”.

And in the somewhat pedantic wording of that ordination lies the key to the awe in which the Victoria Cross is held: any man can win it as long as he is brave in the presence of the enemy. The first investiture was held in 1857 in Hyde Park, the Queen pinning the medal on the proud chests of 62 out of the 111 men who won a Victoria Cross in the Crimea.

Private (Later Sergeant) Albert Edward Curtis VC,
2nd Bn The East Surrey Regiment

Lieutenant (later Brigadier General)
Wallace Duffield Wright VC, CB, CMG, DSO, Legion d' Honneur,
The Royal West Surrey Regiment (The Queen's)

Brigadier George Rowland Patrick Roupell VC, CB, Croix de Guerre,
Order of St George 4th Class

Second Lieutenant (later Major) Benjamin Handley Geary VC,
1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment

Private Edward Dwyer VC, 1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment

Lance Corporal Leonard James Keyworth VC,
1/24th County of London Bn (The Queen's)

Second Lieutenant (later Captain)
Arthur James Terence Fleming-Sandes VC,
Order of The Nile 4th Class, 2nd Battalion The East SurreyRegiment

Captain (later Baron Freyberg of Wellington and Munstead)
Bernard Cyril Freyberg VC, GCMG, DSO (two bars) LLD, DLL,
The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment

Corporal Edward Foster VC, 13th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment

Sergeant Harry Cator VC, MM, Croix de Guerre (France),
7th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment

Captain Clement Robertson VC,
The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), attached The Tank Corps

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Drummond Borton VC, CMG, DSO,
2nd/22nd Bn The London Regiment (The Queen's)

Lance Corporal John William Sayer VC,
8th Bn The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Bushell VC, DSO,
7th Bn The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment

Private (later Sergeant) Jack Harvey VC,
1st/22nd Bn The London Regiment (The Queen's)

Corporal John McNamara VC,
9th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment

Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Colonel) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson VC,
The East Surrey Regiment (Attached Somaliland Camel Corps)

Lieutenant Alec George Horwood VC, DCM,
The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
Attached 1st Bn The Northamptonshire Regiment

Private Johnson Gideon Beharry
1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

 

The George Cross

The George Cross

The George Cross was instituted by King George VI in 1940 as a decoration for supreme gallantry not actually on the field of battle.

Primarily a civilian award, comparable to the Armed Forces Victoria Cross, it can nevertheless be awarded to members of the services in certain circumstances.

At the date of its institution it was decreed that winners of the Empire Gallantry Medal still living should have their medals exchanged for the George Cross and it was by means of this proviso that Lance Corporal Henshaw and Private Brooks of The Queen’s Royal Regiment were awarded theirs. In 1971, by further provision of a Royal Warrant, holders of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal became deemed to be holders of the George Cross.

As a decoration the George Cross is worn before all other medals and orders except the Victoria Cross.

Lance Corporal George Henshaw GC, 1st Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Private Arthur Brooks GC, 1st Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Quetta Awards

In addition to the gallantry awards to Lance Corporal Henshaw and Private Brooks, the Viceroy of India’s Certificates were awarded to Sergeant Chapple, Lance Corporals Dakin and Gowman and Private Rainsbury. As a collective form of appreciation the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Royal Regiment also received an illuminated message from the Viceroy in recognition of their gallant and devoted conduct.

Captain Roy Thomas Harris The Queen's Royal Regiment, Croydon Home Guard

SOURCES : The Register of The George Cross

The George Cross Database