The Complete Victoria Cross - A Full Chronological Record of All Holders of Britain’s Highest Award for Gallantry
By Kevin Brazier
Published by Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)
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Mr Brazier has done a great service to the recognition of holders of this supreme gallantry award. He has conducted extensive research and should be highly commended for his efforts. The Victoria Cross (VC) is Britain’s highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy. It has been awarded 1358 times since it was instituted during the Crimean War (1854-56). To date no women have received it.
This outstanding book starts with the background to the introduction of the VC and the terms and conditions under which it can be bestowed. It should be noted that he also includes the Commonwealth VCs such as the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand versions of this honour.
There is a complete chronological “Roll of Honour” of the awards. For each award of the VC this roll lists the name of the recipient, the date of the appropriate action, where the holder is buried (or cremated or known location of death) and the current location of the medal. If a replacement has been awarded then this is noted amongst the comments on each entry. Awards of bars to the VC are listed twice with a note indicating a pair.
The bulk of the text is based upon the action(s) for which bestowals are made. They are based on the general chronological order of the battles / campaigns. There are chapters concerning the Crimean (1854 – 56) and Persian Wars (1856 – 59), the Indian Mutiny, the mid-Victorian era (1860 – 78), the late Victorian period (1878 – 89), Queen Victoria’s Final Wars (1899 – 1901), the Edwardian era (1902 – 04), the First World War, the Inter war years, the Second World War and finally, the post war period (1950 – date). There are extensive details about the acts that the awardees performed and these descriptions are extremely exciting and emotive. Often they resulted in the medal being (rather sadly) posthumous.
Towards the rear of the publication is a list of all the known burial locations of VC holders. They are listed by country and then by cemetery in alphabetical order. Anyone wishing to visit a VC holder’s grave can instantly identify how many VC holders are buried in the same cemetery. Those buried at sea or who have no known grave are not included. The final chapter is an alphabetical list of recipients giving their order of bestowal and a cross-reference to the appropriate act of gallantry.
For those who are interested in this supreme honour Mr Brazier has produced a first class reference text. Few of us will ever be able to afford a VC but this book brings to life the heroic actions that the awardees undertook often costing them their own lives. It is highly recommended and it details these exciting exploits.