The Victoria Cross for Australia (VC) is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia’s highest military honour. It is awarded for the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.
Since its establishment in 1856, the Victoria Cross has been the highest British Commonwealth award for outstanding bravery in combat. The Victoria Cross medal and The Victoria Cross for Australia (created in 1991) is a Maltese Cross of bronze, with the crest of the British Royal family embedded in the centre, and bears a scroll underneath with the words “For Valour”. When the medal was originally promulgated, it was blue for the Navy and red for the Army. Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s WWII Prime Minister made the decision to unify the medal into a standard design so that all members of the armed forces would receive the same Victoria Cross, regardless of their division.
The riband is 3.8cm (1.5 inches) wide, and is a deep crimson red. The crimson is the adopted colour that was put forward by Winston Churchill to signify all the armed forces. This simplified the previous arrangement of the army crosses having a Crimson ribbon and the Navy having a blue ribbon. The suspender holds the ‘V’ which in turn holds the cross. It is made from the same Gun metal as the cross. When the wearer decides not to wear the whole cross, they can nominate to wear a smaller cross. The ‘V’ suspends from the Bar, and it holds the actual cross. The V stands for Valour. The cross is produced from a gun metal material, and bars the insignia of a lion sitting on the crown. All Victoria Crosses issued have been produced from melted-down Russian artillery cannon captured during the Crimean War of 1853-1856.
Initially, folklore (now dispelled) had it that the Victoria Crosses were fabricated out of diminutive metals smelted from parts of two Russian bronze smooth-bore muzzle-loading guns that were seized during the Crimean War. What remained of the ingots were destroyed by a German bombing raid during the second world war, but the British captured new metal from Sevastapol, Ukraine. The new ingots are now stored in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps Central Depot in Shropshire, UK. The company that has produced the Victoria Cross since 1857 is Hancocks and Company of London. The company casts six Victoria Crosses at a time, as required. The gun metal is fired at a temperature of 1093.33 degrees Celsius (2000 degrees Fahrenheit), as no other method produces the required results. The temperature flow has to be carefully watched as if the bronze is fired at too high a temperature it may be damaged, and if not fired at a high enough temperature the bronze will not flow evenly. The Bar and the ‘V’ are cast separately.
After the crosses have been cast, they are finished by a professional craftsman who attempts to detail the letters to make them stand out more clear, engraves minor details and adds a hidden marker to show that it is not fake. Replicas do not bear this marker. The crosses are then cleaned and sent to the British War Office to be approved. When they have been approved, the British War Office will have the recipients rank, name and date of action engraved. The engraving is done by the same company who produce the cross, Hancocks and Company of London. These replica VCs are exact in every detail.
The Victoria Cross for Australia was created in 1991. The Victoria Cross recognises persons who perform an act of the most conspicuous gallantry or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty. 91 Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross and imperial British Award, and four have been awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia: Mark Donaldson, Ben Roberts-Smith, Daniel Keighran and Cameron Baird.
We don’t ‘nickel and dime’ you by supplying scant, unusable riband lengths, or worse, making riband a hidden-in-the-fine-print optional extra – every medal comes with 250mm of riband (full size) and 150mm (miniature). Ample for a complete professional court mount.