The Victoria Cross Wars...


...Battles, Campaigns and Conflicts of All the VC Heroes, from Pen and Sword


Title: The Victoria Cross Wars

Author: Brian Best

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47388-736-7

The VC, the Victoria Cross, is the highest award  for bravery that can be awarded to a British and Commonwealth service man or woman.  Introduced in 1856 the VC was the first medal for gallantry that could be awarded to all ranks.  More recently Canada, Australia and New Zealand have introduced their own versions of the award, and these are not included in this book.  Since it was introduced 1358 VCs have been awarded, and these include 3 double awards.  This heavyweight book of 570 pages provides an excellent reference not just for when and where they were all awarded but provides the context of the events surrounding them all.

This is a book which I think you could use in different ways to suit your own interests.  For me it is not so much a book to simply read from start to finish but one to pick up to check on particular references, though of course you can choose to just read it from cover to cover.  Equally, one of the things I like to make note of are the occurrences of the graves of a VC recipient in the CWGC cemeteries, where the headstone includes a representation of the award.  In here you will find more on the events that surrounded those awards.

The other element I found particularly enlightening comes in the inclusion of no less than 61 individual chapters.  They start with the Crimean War of 1854-56 and it ends with the Second Iraq War, 2003-2011.  In between there are obvious inclusions, with each year of both WW1 and WW2 having their own individual chapter.  What I found to provide a great deal of additional interest were the number of other less well known actions when VCs were also awarded for acts of gallantry.  Just to pick a few examples, how about chapter 3, the Indian Mutiny 1857-59, chapter 7, the Umbeyla Expedition 1863-64, chapter 14 the Lushai Expedition 1872, chapter 22 the Basuto War 1879-82 and chapter 38, War of the Golden Stool 1900-1901.  Many others more well known, but these were just some that I for one had never heard of before.  As well as the context of the actions being provided, each chapter lists the number of VCs awarded and provides detail on many of the specific recipients and what they did to warrant the award of the prestigious VC gallantry medal.

There have been other books on VC recipients before, but personally I have found this one of the most interesting ways of looking at them that I can remember reading.