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The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military medal given for bravery "in the face of the enemy" to members of the defence forces of Commonwealth countries, and former British Empire territories. It is the most important medal, more important than all other orders, decorations and medals.
It may be given to a person of any rank in any service (army, navy or air force) or anyone working for the military. It is usually presented to the person, or a family member if they were killed, by the British monarch during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It can be presented by the Governor-General for awards made by other Commonwealth countries.
It is the joint highest medal for bravery in the United Kingdom with the George Cross, which is for bravery not in the face of the enemy. However, the VC is higher in the order of importance and would be worn first by a person who had been given both medals (which has not happened).
The VC was begun on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria for acts of bravery during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been given 1,356 times to 1,353 people. Only 13 medals, nine to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army have been presented since the Second World War.
Since 1990, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, have started their own versions of the VC. Because of this, the Victoria Cross is sometimes called the "British Victoria Cross" or the "Imperial Victoria Cross".
Living holders of the Victoria Cross
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- Bill Apiata, VC 1944
- Johnson Beharry, VC 1951
- John Cruickshank, VC 1966
- Mark Donaldson, VC 1969
- Rambahadur Limbu, VC, MVO 2005
- Keith Payne, VC, OAM, DSC (US) 2007
- Ben Roberts-Smith, VC MG 2009
- William Speakman-Pitts, VC 2011
- Daniel Kieghran 2012
- "Defence Internet". www.operations.mod.uk. http://www.operations.mod.uk/honours/honours.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- "Defence Internet". web.archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20070609182751/http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/HistoryAndHonour/VictoriaAndGeorgeCrossHoldersTheWorldsMostExclusiveClub.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- "Modern Canadian Victoria Cross unveiled at Rideau Hall". National Defence; Government of Canada. 2008-05-16. http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/com/backprecis-eng.php. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
- "Victoria Cross for Australia" (PDF). Australian Government. http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/publications/honours/factsheets/victorian_cross_%20for_australia.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- "27th Reunion of Victoria Cross and George Cross holders" at VictoriaCross.org; Hardman, Robert. "The heroes given a front-row seat at the royal party," Daily Mail (UK). May 30, 2012: excerpt, "... all 28 living holders of the Victoria Cross or the George Cross ...."