The Victoria Cross

THE VICTORIA CROSS

The Victoria Cross is the British realm’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. It has precedence over any other of our Sovereign’s awards or Commonwealth decorations.

 

The Victoria Cross was founded by Royal Warrant January 29, 1856 to recognise the bravery of those who were then fighting the Crimean War. It was available to all soldiers 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 – truly a democratic award.

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 recipients’ name, rank and unit while the reverse of the cross is engraved with the date of the deed for which the recipient was honoured.

The Victoria Cross came into existence by Queen Victoria signing the Royal Warrant instigating the award on the 29th January 1856, and then approving a specimen Victoria Cross on 3rd March of the same year.

The next twelve months was taken up by the Royal Navy and Army selecting appropriate candidates for the award from the veterans of the Crimean War ( 1854-56 ).

The names of the 85 successful servicemen were published in the ‘London Gazette’ of 24th February 1857, the first investiture taking place in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857, where Queen Victoria personally invested the VC on 62 recipients. The remainder, who were stationed overseas at the time, were invested with their VCs by their GOCs.

Since its inception the Victoria Cross has been awarded 1,350 times. The youngest recipient was 15 years old and the eldest was 69 years old. Three cases exist where both father and son have won the Victoria Cross; four pairs of brothers have also been recipients. 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. Webber Harris for her efforts in nursing cholera victims. Three men have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice.

Since its inception soldiers from our forebear Regiments have won a number of Victoria Crosses. (In fact the Royal Norfolk Regiment won more Victoria Crosses in the Second World War than any other Infantry Regiment). In Battalion Headquarters there is an Honour Board that lists the names of the fourteen holders, their Regiments, locations and dates that the Victoria Crosses were won.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Name Regiment Location Date
Sgt W McWheeny 44th Regiment of Foot Crimean War 20th October 1854
Lt R M Rogers 44th Regiment of Foot Taku Forts 13th August 1861
Pte J McDougall 44th Regiment of Foot Taku Forts 13th August 1861
Lt F N Parsons The Essex Regiment Paareberg 18th February 1900
Sgt A F Saunders 9th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment – Loos – France 26th September 1915
2Lt F B Wearne The Essex Regiment – France 28th June 1917
Cpl S J Day 11th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment Hargicourt – France 24th August 1917
Lt Col J Sherwood-Kelly CMG DSO The Norfolk Regiment attached 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers Cambrai – France 20th November 1917
CSM G Gristock 2nd Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment Tournai – Belgium 21st May 1940
Lt Col A Newman The Essex Regiment attached 2 Commando Brigade St Nazaire 27th-28th March 1942
Capt J N Randle 2nd Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment Kohima – Burma 4th-6th May 1944
Capt D Jamieson 7th Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment Grimbosq – France 7th-8th August 1944
Cpl S Bates 1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment Sourdeval – France 8th August 1944
Lt G A Knowland 2nd Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment attached 1 Commando and 3 Commando Brigade Kangaw – Burma 31st January 1945
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