List of living Victoria Cross recipients

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As of 2015, there are six living recipients of the Victoria Cross, three living recipients of the Victoria Cross for Australia and one living recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand.[1]

The VC is a military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories. It takes precedence over all other Orders, decorations and medals; it may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command.[2] The award was officially constituted when Queen Victoria issued a warrant under the Royal sign-manual on 29 January 1856.[3][4] (gazetted 5 February 1856)[4] The order was backdated to 1854 to recognise acts of valour during the Crimean War.[5] The first awards ceremony was held on 26 June 1857 where Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in a ceremony in Hyde Park.[3]

The Victoria Cross has been awarded 1358 times to 1355 individual recipients. The first citations of the VC, particularly those in the initial gazette of 24 February 1857, varied in the details of each action; some specify one date, some date ranges, some the name of the battle and others have both sets of information. The original Royal Warrant did not contain a specific clause regarding posthumous awards, although official policy was to not award the VC posthumously. Between 1859 and 1901, notices were issued in the London Gazette regarding soldiers who would have been awarded the VC had they survived. In an exception to policy in 1902, six soldiers were posthumously awarded the VC for gallantry during the Boer War 1899–1902. In 1907, the posthumous policy was reversed and medals were sent to the next of kin of the six officers and men who had been listed in the London Gazette for actions prior to the South African War.[6] The Victoria Cross warrant was officially amended to explicitly allow posthumous awards in 1920. One quarter of all awards for the First World War were posthumous.[7][8]

Since 1991, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have created gallantry awards for operational service in their own honours systems. The highest awards are the Victoria Cross for Australia, the Canadian Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for New Zealand. One New Zealand and four Australian Victoria Crosses have so far been awarded, with all but one of the Australian recipients surviving to receive their medals. Of the living recipients, Willie Apiata received the Victoria Cross for New Zealand on 26 July 2007; Mark Donaldson received the Victoria Cross for Australia on 16 January 2009 and Ben Roberts-Smith received the Victoria Cross for Australia on 23 January 2011, all for actions in Afghanistan.[9] Daniel Keighran was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia for his actions in a fire fight with insurgents in Oruzgan Province as part of Operation Slipper on 24 August 2010 [10]

Living recipients[edit]

Name Year of award Unit Location of gallantry
John Alexander Cruickshank 1944 No. 210 Squadron RAF Atlantic
William Speakman 1951 The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)
(att'd 1st Bn, King's Own Scottish Borderers)
Rambahadur Limbu 1966 2nd Bn, 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles Sarawak, Malaysia
Keith Payne 1969 Australian Army Training Team Vietnam Ben Het, Vietnam
Johnson Beharry 2005 1st Bn, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires) Al-Amarah, Iraq
Joshua Leakey 2015 Parachute Regiment Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Willie Apiata
(Victoria Cross for New Zealand)
2007 New Zealand Special Air Service Afghanistan
Mark Donaldson
(Victoria Cross for Australia)
2009 Australian Special Air Service Regiment Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan
Ben Roberts-Smith
(Victoria Cross for Australia)
2011 Australian Special Air Service Regiment Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Daniel Keighran
(Victoria Cross for Australia)
2012 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan


  1. ^ Since 1991, three Commonwealth countries that retain the Queen as head of state have instituted their own versions of the VC. See Victoria Cross for Australia, Victoria Cross (Canada) and Victoria Cross for New Zealand.
  2. ^ Ashcroft, Michael; preface; XI–XIII
  3. ^ a b Ashcroft, Michael; Preface to Victoria Cross Heroes
  4. ^ a b The Gazette publishing the original Royal Warrant
    "No. 21846". The London Gazette. 5 February 1856. pp. 410–411. 
  5. ^ Ashcroft, Michael; pp.7–10
  6. ^ "No. 27986". The London Gazette. 15 January 1907. p. 325. 
  7. ^ Crook, MJ, Chapter 8 pp.68–90
  8. ^ "No. 31946". The London Gazette. 18 June 1920. p. 6702. 
  9. ^ "Press kit related to July 2007 gallantry awards (NZ)" (PDF). NZ Government through news agency. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007. 
  10. ^ "Soldier honoured with Victoria Cross medal". Fairfax. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.