|Victoria Cross for Australia|
Obverse of the medal and ribbon. Ribbon: 32mm, crimson
|Awarded by Australia|
|Eligibility||Australian military personnel|
|Awarded for||"... most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."|
|Description||Bronze Cross pattée with Crown and Lion Superimposed, and motto: 'For Valour'|
|Established||15 January 1991|
|First awarded||16 January 2009|
|Last awarded||13 February 2014|
|Order of Wear|
|Next (lower)||George Cross, Cross of Valour|
The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours System, superseding the British Victoria Cross for issue to Australians. The Victoria Cross for Australia is the "decoration for according recognition to persons who in the presence of the enemy, perform acts of the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty."
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.
The Victoria Cross for Australia was created by letters patent signed by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on 15 January 1991. It is listed equal first with the British Victoria Cross on the Australian Order of Wear with precedence in Australia over all orders, decorations and medals.The decoration may be awarded to members of the Australian Defence Force and to other persons determined by the Australian Minister for Defence. A person to whom the Victoria Cross for Australia has been awarded is entitled to the post nominals VC placed after the person's name.
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, president, or other head of state, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation. Letters patent can be used for the creation of corporations or government offices, or for the granting of city status or a coat of arms. Letters patent are issued for the appointment of representatives of the Crown, such as governors and governors-general of Commonwealth realms, as well as appointing a Royal Commission. In the United Kingdom they are also issued for the creation of peers of the realm. A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention. In this case it is essential that the written grant should be in the form of a public document so other inventors can consult it to avoid infringement and also to understand how to "practice" the invention, i.e., put it into practical use. In the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, imperial patent was also the highest form of generally binding legal regulations, e. g. Patent of Toleration, Serfdom Patent etc.
Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.
The monarchy of Australia concerns the form of government in which a hereditary king or queen serves as the nation's sovereign and head of state. Australia is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, largely modelled on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, while incorporating features unique to the Constitution of Australia. The present monarch is Elizabeth II, styled Queen of Australia, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. She is represented in Australia as a whole by the Governor-General, in accordance with the Australian Constitution and letters patent from the Queen, and in each of the Australian states, according to the state constitutions, by a governor, assisted by a lieutenant-governor. The monarch appoints the Governor-General and the governors, on the advice respectively of the Commonwealth government and each state government. These are now almost the only constitutional functions of the monarch with regard to Australia.
The Governor-General of Australia awards the Victoria Cross for Australia, with the approval of the Sovereign, on the recommendation of the Minister for Defence. The first medal was awarded on 16 January 2009 to Trooper Mark Donaldson, for the rescue of a coalition forces interpreter from heavy fire in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan. Donaldson's award came almost 40 years after Warrant Officer Keith Payne became the last Australian to be awarded the (original) Victoria Cross for gallantry on 24 May 1969 during the Vietnam War. Unlike the original Victoria Cross where the announcement of the award is followed some time later by the presentation of the award, the announcement and presentation of all awards of the VC for Australia have occurred on the same occasion with the presentation being made by the Governor-General in the presence of the Prime Minister. Both VC for Australia and original Victoria Cross recipients are entitled to the Victoria Cross allowance under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the representative of the Australian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. As the Queen is concurrently the monarch of 15 other Commonwealth realms, and resides in the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her prime minister, appoints a governor-general to carry out constitutional duties within the Commonwealth of Australia. The governor-general has formal presidency over the Federal Executive Council and is commander-in-chief of the Australian Defence Force. The functions of the governor-general include appointing ministers, judges, and ambassadors; giving royal assent to legislation passed by parliament; issuing writs for election; and bestowing Australian honours.
Trooper from the French "troupier" is the equivalent rank to private in a regiment with a cavalry tradition in the British Army and many other Commonwealth armies, including those of Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand; it is also used by the Irish Army.
Mark Gregor Strang Donaldson, is an Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, the highest award in the Australian honours system. Then Trooper Donaldson was a member of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) when he exposed himself to enemy fire to protect injured troops and then rescued an interpreter under heavy enemy fire in the Battle of Khaz Oruzgan during Operation Slipper, the Australian contribution to the War in Afghanistan. He was presented with the decoration by the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, in a ceremony in Canberra on 16 January 2009. On 25 January 2010, Donaldson was named the 2010 Young Australian of the Year. He was promoted to corporal in June 2010.
On 29 January 1856, Queen Victoria signed the Royal Warrant that officially instituted the Victoria Cross. The Warrant was backdated to 1854 to recognise acts of valour committed during the Crimean War.It was originally intended that the Victoria Crosses would be cast from the bronze cascabels of two cannon that were captured from the Russians at the Siege of Sevastopol. However, historian John Glanfield has proven, through the use of X-rays of older Victoria Crosses, that the metal used for the Victoria Crosses is in fact from antique Chinese guns, and not of Russian origin.
The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at Ottoman expense. It has widely been noted that the causes, in one case involving an argument over a key, have never revealed a "greater confusion of purpose", yet they led to a war noted for its "notoriously incompetent international butchery".
Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant. In the past, gunpowder was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder during the 19th century. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery if not a more specific term such as howitzer or mortar, except for high calibre automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.
The barrels of the cannon used to cast the medals are stationed outside the Officers' Mess, at the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich. The remaining portion of the only remaining cascabel, weighing 10 kilograms (358 oz), is stored in a vault maintained by 15 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps at MoD Donnington, and can be removed only under armed guard. It is estimated that 80 to 85 more Victoria Crosses could be cast from this source. A single company of jewellers, Hancocks of London, established in 1849, has been responsible for the production of every medal since its inception. Both the Australian and New Zealand Victoria Crosses are made from the same gunmetal as the originals.
The Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, London, was the home of the Royal Artillery from 1776 until 2007.
Woolwich is a district of southeast London, England, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It has been part of the London metropolitan area since the 19th century. In 1965, most of the former Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich became part of Greenwich Borough, of which it remains the administrative centre.
The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) provides logistic support functions to the British Army. It is the largest Corps in the Army. The RLC flag is dark blue with the Corps Badge emblazoned on the centre. It has a Corps of Drums and a "Marching Band".
The original medal was awarded to 96 Australians; 91 of these were received while serving as members of Australian forces; five were received by former members of the Australian forces who were serving with South African or British forces.Sixty-four awards were for action in the First World War, nine of them for action during the Gallipoli Campaign. Twenty medals were awarded for action in the Second World War, and the other medals were for action in the Second Boer War, Russian Civil War and in the Vietnam War. The last recipient was Warrant Officer Keith Payne, for gallantry on 24 May 1969 during the Vietnam War. Payne was awarded the medal for instigating a rescue of more than 40 men.
The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought the Boers to terms.
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favouring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and anti-democratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Alexander Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians.
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war, considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted 19 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist in 1975.
Since the end of the Second World War most but not all Commonwealth countries have introduced their own honours systems, separate from the British Honours System. Commonwealth countries, when replacing the British Victoria Cross, George Cross and lesser decorations, created their own decorations for gallantry and bravery. The highest awards for Australia, Canada and New Zealandwere named in honour of the British Victoria Cross but are unique awards of each country's honours system. Commonwealth countries have their own Order of Wear which is published in each country's gazette or other publication.
With the issuing of letters patent by the Queen of Australia on 15 January 1991, Australia became the first Commonwealth realm to institute a separate Victoria Cross award in its own honours system. Although it is a separate award, the Victoria Cross for Australia's appearance is identical to its British counterpart.Canada followed suit when in 1993, Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada signed Letters Patent creating the Canadian Victoria Cross. The Canadian version has a different inscription, as well as being created from a different unspecified metal. The legend has been changed from FOR VALOUR to the Latin PRO VALORE. Although one Canadian VC has been cast, none has been awarded. In 1999, New Zealand created the Victoria Cross for New Zealand, identical to the Australian and British Victoria Crosses, and this has been awarded once, on 2 July 2007 to Corporal Willie Apiata.
The Victoria Cross for Australia is identical to the original design. It is a "cross pattée 41 millimetres high, 36 millimetres wide. The arms of the Cross have raised edges. The obverse bears a Crowned Lion standing on the Royal Crown with the words 'FOR VALOUR' inscribed on a semi-circular scroll below the Crown. The reverse bears raised edges on the arms of the cross and the date of the act for which the Cross is awarded is engraved within the circle in the centre. The inscription was originally to have been FOR BRAVERY, until it was changed on the recommendation of Queen Victoria, who thought some might erroneously consider that only the recipients of the Victoria Cross were brave in battle. The decoration, suspension bar, and link weigh about 27 grams (0.87 troy ounces).
The cross is suspended by a ring from a seriffed "V" to a bar ornamented with laurel leaves, through which the ribbon passes. The reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with the recipient's name, rank, number and unit. millimetres (1.5 inches) wide. Although the warrants state the colour as red, it is defined by most commentators as "crimson" or "wine-red".On the reverse of the medal is a circular panel, on which the date of the act for which it was awarded is engraved in the centre. The ribbon is crimson, and is 38
The Victoria Cross for Australia is awarded for
... most conspicuous gallantry, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy or belligerents.
Awards are granted by the Governor-General with the approval of the Sovereign. The warrant for the Victoria Cross for Australia differs markedly from the Imperial warrant. The new warrant does not specify any particular process for recommendations, though it is expected that any recommendation will pass through the military hierarchy to the Minister for Defence. ..." Subsequent awards of the Victoria Cross for Australia to the same individual shall be made in the form of a bar to the Cross. Where a person has been awarded a second or three or more awards, the post nominals "VC and Bar" or "VC and Bars" may be used.The new warrant also allows for "other persons determined by the Minister [for Defence] for the purposes of this regulation." Author Robert Macklin has speculated that this has opened up the field of eligibility to policemen and women or civilians during a terrorist act. He goes on to say that by "separating the VC from its traditional roots the Hawke government can be accused, with some justice, of devaluing the honour
The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours Order of Precedence. As such, it takes precedence over all other Australian orders and decorations, except the Imperial Victoria Cross, with which it shares equal precedence. This postnominal is valid only for the recipient and is not transferred to the recipient's heirs."Tradition holds that even the most senior officer will salute a Victoria Cross recipient as a mark of the utmost respect for their act of valour." Whilst it has been a tradition for many years to salute a Victoria Cross recipient the Australian Army Ceremonial Manual, Volume 1, Annex B to Chapter 13 states "Victoria Cross winners, unless they are serving commissioned officers in the armed forces, are not saluted". Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston saluted Trooper Mark Donaldson after he received his VC. Under Section 103, Subsection (4), of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, the Australian Government pays a Victoria Cross Allowance to any service person awarded the medal. The act set this amount at A$3,230 per year. Since 20 September 2005, this amount has been indexed annually in line with Australian Consumer Price Index increases. This amount is in addition to any amount that the veteran may be awarded under the general decoration allowance of $2.10 per fortnight.
The various forms of the Victoria Cross are inherently valuable, as was highlighted on 24 July 2006, when at the auctionhouse Bonhams in Sydney, the VC which had been awarded to First World War soldier Captain Alfred Shout, fetched a world-record hammer price of $1 million. Shout had been awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in 1915 for hand-to-hand combat at the Lone Pine trenches in Gallipoli, Turkey. The buyer, Kerry Stokes, has lent it to the Australian War Memorial for display with the eight other Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians at Gallipoli. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra currently holds 66 Victoria Crosses, 63 awarded to Australians—including Mark Donaldson's Victoria Cross for Australia on loan—and three to British soldiers; this formed the largest publicly displayed collection in the world, until the opening of the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London during November 2010, which displays the 168 VCs owned by Lord Ashcroft and 48 more held by the IWM.
The first Victoria Cross for Australia was awarded to Trooper Mark Donaldson of the Special Air Service Regiment by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House, Canberra on 16 January 2009.On 2 September 2008, Donaldson rescued an interpreter under heavy enemy fire in Oruzgan province during Operation Slipper, the Australian contribution to the War in Afghanistan.
On 2 September 2008 Trooper Donaldson was outstanding in the manner in which he fought during a prolonged and effective enemy ambush. On numerous occasions, he deliberately drew the enemy's fire in order to allow wounded soldiers to be moved to safety. As the battle raged around him he saw that a coalition interpreter was lying motionless on exposed ground. With complete disregard for his own safety, on his own initiative and alone, Trooper Donaldson ran back eighty metres across exposed ground to rescue the interpreter and carry him back to a vehicle. Trooper Donaldson then rejoined his patrol and continued to engage the enemy while remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire.
Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith MG of the Special Air Service Regiment was awarded the second Victoria Cross for Australia on 23 January 2011.Corporal Roberts-Smith was awarded the medal for single-handedly charging and destroying two Taliban machine gun positions during the Shah Wali Kot Offensive in Afghanistan on 11 June 2010. This act has been described as similar to that of Edward Kenna VC. Corporal Roberts-Smith had previously been awarded a Medal for Gallantry in 2006, and upon receiving the VC became the most highly decorated serving member of the Australian Defence Force.
Corporal Daniel Keighran of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia on 1 November 2012 for actions in the Battle of Derapet (Oruzgan province, Afghanistan) in August 2010. Corporal Keighran deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire, drawing the fire away from an injured colleague and those who were attending to him. He is the third recipient, and the first non-Special Forces recipient, of the award.
On 13 February 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Corporal Cameron Baird of the 2nd Commando Regiment would be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Corporal Baird had been awarded the Medal for Gallantry in 2007 and was killed in Afghanistan in 2013.
On 3 April 2001, Senator Chris Schacht, then a member of the Australian Senate, gave notice that on the next day of sitting he would introduce the Award of Victoria Cross for Australia Bill 2001 to award the Victoria Cross for Australia to certain persons. The next sitting day, 4 April 2001, Senator Schacht introduced the bill for three members of the Australian forces to be awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.The bill was read a first time and Senator Schacht gave his Second Reading Speech in which he said it could be argued that an Act conferring a Victoria Cross for Australia may be beyond the legislative power of the Parliament but he believed that the "naval and military defence of the Commonwealth" power under section 51(vi) of the Constitution gave the Parliament authority to legislate with respect to honours and awards. In accordance with normal procedure the debate was then adjourned. On 1 June 2001, Sid Sidebottom, the Member for Braddon introduced the Defence Act Amendment (Victoria Cross) Bill 2001. The Bill was similar to the Senate bill and Sidebottom also believed that the Parliament had power under section 51(vi) of the Constitution. Neither bill was again debated before the 2001 Australian federal election. Both Senator Schacht and Mr Sidebottom were members of the Australian Labor Party, then in opposition and the issue was included by the then opposition leader Kim Beazley in his campaign in the following General Election. The awards were intended "to raise the profile and recognition of three ordinary Australians, who displayed outstanding bravery."
The awards were to be made posthumously to John Simpson Kirkpatrick ("Simpson"), Albert Cleary and Teddy Sheean for their actions in the First and Second World Wars. Simpson's story has become an Australian legend. King George V decreed that no more operational awards would be made for the recently concluded war.He was a stretcher bearer with the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps at Gallipoli during the First World War. He landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 and, on that first night, took a donkey and began carrying wounded from the battle line to the beach for evacuation. He continued this work for three and a half weeks, often under fire, until he was killed. However, in 1919,
In 1965, a campaign to award the Victoria Cross to Simpson resulted in his image with a donkey appearing on the obverse of the Anzac Commemorative Medallion that was announced in 1966 and first issued in 1967. Following the 2007 Australian federal election the Labor party came to power and there was speculation that the 2001 bills may be reintroduced. Historians such as Anthony Staunton, writing in the Australian Journal of Military History, have opined that the Victoria Cross for Australia should not be awarded retrospectively.It was announced on 13 April 2011 that 13 cases of valour would be examined posthumously by the Australian government's Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal first debated "the eligibility of the 13 to receive the Victoria Cross, the Victoria Cross for Australia or other forms of recognition," before moving on to discuss the individual cases. The recommendations of the inquiry were ultimately submitted to government on 6 February 2013, advocating no awards be made.
The George Cross (GC) is the second highest award of the United Kingdom honours system awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger", not in the presence of the enemy, to members of the British armed forces and to British civilians. Posthumous awards have been allowed since it was instituted. It was previously awarded to residents of Commonwealth countries, most of which have since established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians including police, emergency services and merchant seamen. Many of the awards have been personally presented by the British monarch to recipients or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.
Keith Payne, is an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Payne's VC was awarded for his actions during the Vietnam War. Aged 86, he is the last living Australian recipient of the original "Imperial" Victoria Cross.
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award of the United Kingdom honours system. It was previously awarded to Canada and other Commonwealth countries, most of which including Canada have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. Today, the Victoria Cross, created in 1993 and named in honour of the British Victoria Cross is the highest award within the Canadian honours system, taking precedence over all other orders, decorations, and medals. It is awarded by either the Canadian monarch or his or her viceregal representative, the Governor General of Canada, to any member of the Canadian Forces or allies serving under or with Canadian military command for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing hostile forces. Whereas in many other Commonwealth countries the relevant version of the Victoria Cross can only be awarded for actions against the enemy in a wartime setting, the Canadian government has a broader definition of the term enemy. In Canada, the Victoria Cross can be awarded for action against armed mutineers, pirates, or other such hostile forces without war being officially declared. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters VC and also to receive an annuity of C$3,000. The decoration has not been awarded since its inception.
The Medal for Gallantry (MG) is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Australian Defence Force. It recognises acts of gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances. The MG was introduced on 15 January 1991, replacing the Imperial equivalent. It is ranked third in the Gallantry Decorations in the Australian Honours System. Recipients of the Medal of Gallantry are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "MG".
The Victoria Cross for New Zealand (VC) is a military decoration awarded for valour or gallantry in the presence of the enemy to members of the New Zealand Armed Forces. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command, and is presented to the recipient by the Governor-General of New Zealand during an investiture held at Government House, Wellington. As the highest award for gallantry in New Zealand it takes precedence over all other postnominals and medals.