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Victoria Cross

VC Obverse

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1856 Onwards

1The Victoria Cross was first instituted in 1856. Queen Victoria backed a proposition that bravery should be recognized in every rank of the British Armed Forces, the Royal Warrant for the creation of the medal was signed on 29th January 1856.

2The first presentation of this new award took place in Hyde park London on 26th June 1857, this was significant not only due to the new medal but also because after 20 years as the monarch this was the first time that Queen Victoria had been seen riding horseback. At first the award could only be gained in the presence of the enemy but due to a new warrant signed in August of 1858 the award was extended to include service beyond the battlefield. This was extended yet again in December 1858 so that civilians fighting alongside soldiers could also be eligible, this came around because volunteers were fighting alongside British soldiers during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 - 1859.

9The award of a Victoria Cross was accompanied by a yearly tax free pension of £10 followed by a further £5 for a second award (Receiving a bar) this was not to give financial incentive for the award but merely to make the award "Highly prized and eagerly sought after".

10the design of the award comes in the shape of the Maltese Cross generally thought to have come from H Armstead a young employee of Hancock's the jewelers who have made the cross ever since, and the inscription "For Valour" was chosen by Queens Victoria herself. The metal comes from the cascabels of two cannons captured from the russians at Sevastopol in 1854, the two cannons in question now reside outside the the rotunda of the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich in London. Originally the ribbon issued with the Victoria Cross was red for the Army and Blue for the navy but this was latter omitted and agreed to be a dark red for all.

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