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.

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

• • • •

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

• • • •

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

• • • •

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


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