From the Encyclopaedia
The Victoria Cross is the
highest decoration for valour in the British armed forces, awarded for
extreme bravery in the face of the enemy. It was instituted in 1856 by
Queen Victoria at the request of her consort, Prince Albert. The first
crosses were awarded during the Crimean War. In 1858, new statutes allowed
the Victoria Cross to be conferred for gallantry when not in the presence
of the enemy; instances of this were extremely rare, and by 1881 the cross
was again awarded only for conspicuous courage in the face of the enemy.
King Edward VII, in 1902, decreed that the honour could be awarded
posthumously, which, since then, it frequently has been. Anyone in any
branch of the British armed forces is eligible, including women, although
no woman has as yet received the award.
So great is the
prestige of the Victoria Cross that it takes precedence over all other
orders and medals in Britain, and recipients are entitled to add V.C.
after their name. Only 1,348 crosses have been awarded since the honour
was instituted. The medal is bronze (originally cast from Russian guns
captured in the Crimean War), depicting a lion on a crown with the
inscription “For Valour,” while the reverse side has the date of the act
for which the decoration is bestowed and the name, rank, and regiment of
Cross" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed January 12, 2003].
From the Citation for the
Victoria Cross, Frederick Sleigh Roberts, Lieutenant, Bengal Artillery,
On 2 January 1858 at
on following up the retreating enemy, Lieutenant Roberts saw in the
distance two sepoys going away with a standard. He immediately gave chase,
overtaking them just as they were about to enter a village. Although one
of them fired at him the lieutenant was not hit and he took possession of
the standard, cutting down the man who was carrying it. He had also on the
same day saved the life of a sowar who was being attacked by a sepoy.
From the Victoria
Cross Reference by Mike Chapman