The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856. It was originally made from the bronze of cannon captured during the Crimean War.
It consists of a bronze cross, 1.5 inches (38mm) across with raised edges with the words For Valour on the front. The back of the clasp is inscribed with the name, rank and regiment (or ship) of the recipient. The ribbon is crimson but before WW1, naval VC ribbons were blue. The actual monetary cost of the medal is only a few pence but in every other way it is priceless and is the most highly prized decoration of any serviceman. It takes precedence over all other decorations and distinctions.
From 1914 to 1918 there were 415 VCs awarded, 124 posthumously. The Australian Imperial Force was awarded 63 VCs (14 posthumous). The Canadian Expeditionary Force was awarded 62 VCs (22 posthumous). The New Zealand Expeditionary Force won 12 VCs (3 posthumous). The South African Expeditionary Force won 4 VCs and last but not least, the Indian Army won 18 VCs (6 posthumous).
The Imperial War Museum has an excellent web page covering the history of this award in detail.
Mike Chapman has produced a detailed history of the men who have won the VC. Take a look
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last updated 9th January, 2000