The Victoria Cross was established by Royal warrant on January 29th, 1856 during the Crimean War to be awarded to officers or men who “in the presence of the enemy…have performed some signal act of valour or devotion to their country. It was further ordained “with a view to place all persons on a perfectly equal footing in relation to eligibility for the Decoration, that neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstance or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous bravery shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to the honour. It is worth noting that Crimea marks the first major conflict that was extensively covered by a substantial group of war correspondents serving at the front. Newspaper reports by reporters like William Russell of the Times, raised public awareness of both the terrible conditions under which that campaign was fought and of the bravery of common soldiers. Before this time, it had not been considered necessary to recognize the bravery of soldiers who were, after all, simply doing their duty. Officers in the rank of Major or above were admitted to the junior grade of the Order of the Bath for acts of bravery, but there was no similar provision for non commissioned officers or men.1 Most of the medals awarded have been cast from the bronze of cannons that were reported to have been captured from the Russians at Sebastopol.
Eighty one VCs were awarded to members of the Canadian Armed Forces (including Newfoundland before 1949) from the South African War to the end of the Second World War. The first was awarded to Sergeant Aurthur H.L. Richardson of Lord Strathcona’s Horse for action at Wolve Spruit in South Africa on 5 July 1900. From 1967 to 1992, the Victoria Cross was not a part of the Canadian system of medals and awards. It was re-instituted in 1992 along with some minor variations in design to make it a distinctly Canadian. The words “For Valour” on the original were replaced with Latin “Pro Valore” and the fleur-de-lis added to the floral embellishment along with the rose, thistle and shamrock. Today, the VC is “awarded for the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty, in the presence of the enemy.”2
Three Patricia’s were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War. Lt. Hugh McKenzie was seconded to the 7th Canadian Machine Gun Company supporting the Regiment at the time of the award.
1. Michael Ashcroft, Victoria Cross Heroes, 5-9
2. Pro Valore – Canada’s Victoria Cross,