The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross, established in 1856 during the Crimean War, has remained to this day the highest British award 'for valour' and is perhaps the most prestigious gallantry medal in the world. Though the VC confers no special title and the medal itself is plain and simple in design, it is nevertheless the hardest-won and most coveted of gallantry awards. In every theatre of war where British and Commonwealth soldiers have served over the past one hundred and fifty years, VCs have been won by men aged from sixteen to sixty-one, soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians. Since its inception in 1856, well over thirteen hundred VCs have been awarded, reflecting the gallantry of British and Commonwealth forces in action around the world from the Crimea to Iraq. To read the award citations is to be brought face to face with examples of selfless courage and devotion to duty and to encounter deeds that are always remarkable and sometimes astounding.