Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross front

Victoria Cross front

Significance

The Victoria Cross is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia's highest military honour.

It is awarded to persons who, in the presence of the enemy, display the most conspicuous gallantry; a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice; or extreme devotion to duty. 

History

The Victoria Cross was created by Queen Victoria in 1856 and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War.

Australians were eligible for the Victoria Cross and other awards under the Imperial system of honours, until the Victoria Cross was instituted in the Australian honours system by Letters Patent on 15 January 1991.

The Victoria Cross has been awarded to 100 Australians, including five Australians serving with South African and British units.

Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross in the following conflicts:

  • 6 in the Boer War 1899-1902
  • 64 in World War I 1914-1918 (9 at Gallipoli)
  • 2 in North Russia 1919
  • 20 in World War II 1939-1945
  • 4 in Vietnam 1962-1972
  • 4 in Afghanistan 2001-2013

Recipients

Benjamin Roberts-Smith MG, VC was awarded the Medal for Gallantry, Victoria Cross in 2011

Trooper Mark Donaldson VC was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2009

Keith Payne OAM, VC was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, Victoria Cross in 1969

How it is awarded

The Governor-General awards the Victoria Cross, with the approval of the Sovereign, on the recommendation of the Minister for Defence.

The Victoria Cross may be awarded posthumously.

The post-nominal entitlement for the Victoria Cross is VC.

A subsequent award of the Victoria Cross to the same person is made as a bar to the Cross. They are also entitled to the post-nominal VC and Bar. 

Medal Design

The Victoria Cross is a Maltese Cross, cast in bronze from cannons captured during the Crimean War (1854-1856). There is sufficient metal for a number of new medals to be cast from these cannons. They are each handmade by Hancocks and Company (Jewellers) of London.

The obverse of the Victoria Cross bears a crowned lion standing on a royal crown. The words 'FOR VALOUR' are inscribed on a semi-circular scroll beneath the crown.

The reverse of the cross is engraved with the date of the act of bravery and the name, rank and unit of the recipient.

The suspension bar is decorated with laurel leaves and bears a 'V' from which the cross hangs.

Medal ribbon

The medal ribbon of the Victoria Cross is crimson.