During the Battle of the Alma (in the Crimean War) 160 years ago today, six men won Victoria Cross medals. Instituted by a Royal Warrant dated 29 January 1856, awards were made retrospectively to the autumn of 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross was the first medal for bravery that could be earned by anyone in the Army or the Navy. Officer, soldier or sailor – nothing else mattered except acting in the most courageous possible way.
Made from bronze, traditionally taken from a gun captured in the Crimean War, the rough cast Crosses are individually hand finished and therefore each unique. The Victoria Cross was deliberately intended to have little actual value. The worth lies in what it stands for and what people do to earn it: be extremely brave.
The first Army VC was awarded to Sergeant Luke O’Connor, 23rd Regiment (later Royal Welch Fusiliers). FindmyPast has an index of Victoria Cross recipients from the Crimean, the Boer War, the Indian Mutiny as well as both World Wars (1,350 recipients in total). The six awards made in reference to the Battle of the Alma were:
All men are referred to in the London Gazette published on 24 February 1857 and at the first ceremony, held on 26 June 1857, Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in Hyde Park.