List of medical recipients of the Victoria Cross

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The Victoria Cross (VC) is a military decoration that may be bestowed upon members of the British or Commonwealth armed forces for acts of valour or gallantry performed in the face of the enemy. Within the British honours system and those of many Commonwealth nations it is the highest award a soldier can receive for actions in combat. It was established in 1856 and since then has been awarded 1,356 times, including three service personnel who were awarded the VC twice.[1]

The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol. Recent research has thrown doubt on this story, suggesting a variety of origins.[2] The original Royal Warrant did not contain a specific clause regarding posthumous awards, although official policy was to not award the VC posthumously. Between 1897 and 1901, several notices were issued in the London Gazette regarding soldiers who would have been awarded the VC had they survived. In a partial reversal of policy in 1902, six of the soldiers mentioned were granted the VC, but not "officially" awarded the medal. In 1907, the posthumous policy was completely reversed and medals were sent to the next of kin of the six officers and men.[3] The Victoria Cross warrant was not officially amended to explicitly allow posthumous awards until 1920 but one quarter of all awards for the First World War were posthumous.[4][5]

Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction.[6] A number of public and private collections are devoted to the Victoria Cross. The private collection of Lord Ashcroft, amassed since 1986, contains over one-tenth of all VCs awarded. Following a 2008 donation to the Imperial War Museum, the Ashcroft collection went on public display alongside the museum's Victoria and George Cross collection in November 2010.[7] Since 1990, three Commonwealth countries that retain the Queen as head of state have instituted their own versions of the VC. As a result, the original Victoria Cross is sometimes referred to as the "Commonwealth Victoria Cross" or the "Imperial Victoria Cross", to distinguish it from the newer awards.[8][9]

There have been medical officers in the English Army since a regular standing army was formed, following the restoration of Charles II in 1660, a practice that continues to the present day. Each regiment had a medical officer and assistants working in their regimental hospital.[10] By the 1700s the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces the Duke of Marlborough John Churchill had introduced the forerunners of the field ambulance, to accompany the British Army of its campaigns. However it was not until the Napoleonic Wars, when the British were fighting in Spain that any kind of organised medical service was formed.[10] The next major conflict fought by the British Army was the Crimean War, where the first three of forty Victoria Crosses were awarded to medical personnel. The forty-one awards include two of only three men, Noel Chavasse and Arthur Martin-Leake, to receive a second award and the youngest recipient Andrew Fitzgibbon aged fifteen years and 100 days.[11] The medical recipients not only include physicians and surgeons but also other medical personnel like Henry Harden, killed when collecting wounded off the battlefield,[12] or the afore mentioned Fitzgibbon who was a Hospital Apprentice. Among the thirty-eight medical recipients of the Victoria Cross, are representatives from the British, Canadian, Australian and the former British Indian Army.

Medical recipients[edit]

Name Regiment/Corps Date Conflict Location
Harold Ackroyd Royal Berkshire Regiment 31 July–1 August 1917 First World War Passchendaele[13]
William Allen Royal Artillery 3 September 1916 First World War Near Mesnil[14]
Henry Andrews Indian Medical Services 22 October 1919 Waziristan campaign Khajuri Post[15]
William Babtie Royal Army Medical Corps 10 December 1899 Second Boer War Colenso[16]
William Bradshaw 90th Foot 26 September 1857 Indian Mutiny Lucknow[17]
Noel Chavasse King's Regiment (Liverpool) 9 August 1916
31 July–2 August 1917
First World War
First World War
Guillemont[18]
Wieltje[19]
Thomas Crean 1st Imperial Light Horse 18 December 1901 Second Boer War Tygerkloof[20]
John Crimmin Bombay Medical Services 1 January 1889 Karen-Ni Expedition Near Lwekaw[21]
Campbell Douglas 24th Foot 7 May 1867 Andaman Expedition Little Andaman[22]
Henry Douglas Royal Army Medical Corps 11 December 1899 Second Boer War Magersfontein[23]
Joseph Farmer Army Hospital Corps 4 July 1879 Zulu War Ulundi[24]
John Fox-Russell Royal Welch Fusiliers 6 November 1917 First World War Khuweilfe[25]
Andrew Fitzgibbon Indian Medical Establishment 21 August 1860 Third China War Taku Forts[11]
John Green Sherwood Foresters 1 July 1916 First World War Loos[26]
Thomas Hale 7th Foot 7–8 September 1855 Crimean War Sevastopol[27]
Henry Harden No. 45 (Royal Marine) Commando 23 January 1945 Second World War Brachterbeek[12]
Anthony Home 90th Foot 26 September 1857 Indian Mutiny Lucknow[17]
Neville Howse New South Wales Army Medical Corps 24 July 1900 Second Boer War Vredefort[28]
Bellenden Hutcheson 75th (Mississauga) Battalion, CEF 2 September 1918 First World War Drocourt-Quéant[29]
Edgar Inkson Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 24 February 1900 Second Boer War Hart's Hill[30]
Joseph Jee 78th Foot 25 September 1857 Indian Mutiny Lucknow[31]
Ferdinand Le Quesne Army Medical Corps 4 May 1889 Burmese Occupation Siallum[32]
Owen Lloyd Army Medical Corps 6 January 1893 Kachin Hills Expedition Fort Sima[33]
Valentine McMasters 78th Foot 25 September 1857 Indian Mutiny Lucknow[34]
William Maillard HMS Blake 6 September 1898 1898 Occupation of Crete Candia[35]
George Maling Rifle Brigade 25 September 1915 First World War Fauquissart[36]
William Manley Royal Artillery 29 April 1864 New Zealand Wars Tauranga[37]
Arthur Martin-Leake South African Constabulary
Royal Army Medical Corps
8 February 1902
8 November 1914
Second Boer War
First World War
Vlakfonteiu[38]
Zonnebeke[39]
Richard Masters 141st Field Ambulance, R.A.S.C. 9 April 1918 First World War Béthune[40]
James Mouat 6th Dragoons 29 January 1856 Crimean War Balaclava[41]
William Nickerson Royal Army Medical Corps 20 April 1900 Second Boer War Wakkerstroom[42]
Harry Ranken King's Royal Rifle Corps 19–20 September 1914 First World War Hautevesnes[43]
Herbert Reade 61st Foot 14–16 September 1857 Indian Mutiny Delhi[44]
James Reynolds Army Medical Corps 22–23 January 1879 Zulu War Rorke's Drift[45]
Francis Scrimger Canadian Army Medical Corps 25 April 1915 First World War Battle of St Julien (24 April – 5 May)[46]
John Sinton Indian Medical Service 21 January 1916 First World War Orah ruins[47]
William Sylvester 23rd Foot 8 September 1855 Crimean War Sevastopol[48]
William Temple Royal Artillery 29 April 1864 New Zealand Wars Tauranga[37]
Harry Whitchurch Indian Medical Service 3 march 1895 Chitral Expedition Chitral Fort[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Victoria Cross: The Premier Award for Gallantry". Ministry of Defence (UK). Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Davies, Catronia (2005-12-28). "Author explodes myth of the gunmetal VC". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27986. p. 325. 15 January 1907. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  4. ^ Crook, MJ, Chapter 8 pp.68–90
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31946. p. 6702. 18 June 1920. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  6. ^ "The Victoria Cross ... awarded to Captain Alfred Shout have been sold at auction". Iain Stewart, Victoria Cross.org. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Press Release: The Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Extraordinary Heroes". Imperial War Museum. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  8. ^ "Pro Valore: Canada's Victoria Cross". National Defence; Government of Canada. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Victoria Cross for Australia" (PDF). Australian Government. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Royal Army Medical Corps History". Ministry of Defence (UK). Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Starling, P H. "The Medical Victoria Crosses". R.A.M.C. Journal. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Henry Harden". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30272. p. 9259. 4 September 1917. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29802. p. 10394. 24 October 1916. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32046. p. 9133. 7 September 1920. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27184. p. /2547. 20 April 1900. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  17. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 22154. p. 2959. 18 June 1858. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29802. p. 10394. 24 October 1916. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30284. p. 9531. 14 September 1917. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27405. p. 843. 11 February 1902. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25975. p. 4989. 17 September 1889. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 23333. p. 6878. 17 December 1867. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27300. p. 2193. 29 March 1901. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24973. p. 2553. 17 May 1881. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30471. p. 722. 8 January 1918. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29695. p. 7743. 4 August 1916. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  27. ^ The London Gazette: no. 21997. p. 1578. 5 May 1857. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  28. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27320. p. 3769. 4 June 1901. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31067. p. 14774. 13 December 1918. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  30. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27266. p. 308. 15 January 1901. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22445. p. 4126. 8 November 1860. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25988. p. 5721. 29 October 1889. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  33. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26472. p. 1. 2 January 1894. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  34. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22154. p. 2957. 18 June 1858. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  35. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27029. p. 7816. 2 December 1898. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  36. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29371. p. 11448. 16 November 1915. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  37. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 22896. p. 4552. 23 September 1864. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  38. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27433. p. 3176. 13 May 1902. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  39. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29074. p. 1700. 16 February 1916. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  40. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30675. p. 5556. 7 May 1918. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  41. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22149. p. 2756. 4 June 1858. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  42. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27283. p. 1059. 12 February 1901. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  43. ^ "Harry Ranken". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  44. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22477. p. 449. 5 February 1861. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  45. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24734. p. 3966. 17 June 1879. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  46. ^ "Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger". National Defence and Canadian Forces. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  47. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29633. p. 6191. 20 June 1916. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  48. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22065. p. 3920. 20 November 1857. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  49. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26644. p. 4021. 16 July 1895. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  • Crook, M.J. (1975). The Evolution of the Victoria Cross. Midas Books. ISBN 0-85936-041-5.