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 The Victoria Cross

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PostSubject: The Victoria Cross   Wed 18 Jun 2014, 13:07



It is almost exactly 160 years (21 June 1854) when shortly after the start of the Crimean War, though paradoxically the action took place in the Baltic, that 19 year old Midshipman Charles D Lucas picked up a fused shell which had landed on the deck of his ship, HMS Hecla, and threw it overboard.

This action would be the first for which the new Victoria Cross would be awarded.*

Unlike the French, who had instituted the Legion D'Honneur as far back as 1802, the British armed forces had entered the Crimean war without a gallantry award available to all ranks. The Order of the Bath was available for senior officers, but there was nothing apart from a Mention in Dispatches or the award of a temporary (brevet) rank for junior officers, NCOs or ordinary servicemen.
It was to rectify this lack of recognition that the Victoria Cross was instituted.

http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/aahistor.htm


*The first to be announced in the London Gazette (24th Feb 1857) was to Lt Cecil Buckley for his action of the 28th May 1855, the first man to physically receive the VC (at the Hyde Park presentation, 26th June 1857)  was Commander Henry Raby  for his actions of the 18th June 1855.
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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Wed 18 Jun 2014, 15:46

Not until 1907, was the Victoria Cross awarded posthumously. The first of the posthumous VCs as recorded by the London Gazette of 15 January 1907, (note: the awards are backdated, including Lts Coghill and Melvill from the Zulu War of 1879)

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/27986/page/325
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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Wed 18 Jun 2014, 20:05

Queen Victoria took a personal interest in the design of the medal, including the motto. The original inscription was to read "For The Brave" but the Queen insisted it should read "For Valour", arguing that "For The Brave"  might infer only holders of the medal "are deemed brave".
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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Thu 19 Jun 2014, 09:46

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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Thu 19 Jun 2014, 10:10

After a "suggestion" from King George V the practise of forfeiting the VC if convicted of a felony was dropped. In the meantime eight recipients were obliged to return their medals. Their stories are largely tragic and pathetic. In all cases their award of a VC is still honoured and commemorated by their respective battallions, some of which have even retrieved their medals through purchase and now keep them safe.

James Collis - convicted of bigamy in 1895
Valentine Bambrick - convicted of assault and (ironically) theft of another officer's medal. Committed suicide in Pentonville Prison aged only 26
Frederick Corbett - convicted of embezzlement in 1884, died in a Union Workhouse in 1912
Edward St John Daniel - convicted of desertion in 1861, died (or didn't) in New Zealand seven years later aged only 31 (although there is a gravestone there is also a suggestion that he could have faked his death and adopted a new identity)
Michael Murphy - convicted of stealing some oats and hay in 1872, his forfeited medal "disappeared" when it was to be collected and "reappeared" in his possession 26 years later
George Ravenhill - convicted of stealing scrap iron in 1908, died in poverty in 1921
James McGuire - convicted of stealing a cow, died in poverty in 1862 in Londonderry, aged only 34
Thomas Lane - convicted of desertion and theft of a horse in 1881, died in the service of the police in Kimberley, South Africa eight years later
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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Fri 20 Jun 2014, 14:17

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PostSubject: Re: The Victoria Cross   Thu 26 Jun 2014, 10:17

26 June 1857, the first investitures of the Victoria Cross take place in Hyde Park;

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