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Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross (often abbreviated to VC) is the highest award for gallantry that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces of any rank in any service and civilians under military command.

The VC was first issued on January 29, 1856, recognising acts of bravery during the Crimean War of 1854-1855. All VCs are made from the bronze of two Chinese cannons that were captured from the Russians at the of siege of Sevastopol.

The medal takes the form of a Maltese cross[?], or cross patte, 1.375 inches wide, bearing a crown surmounted by a lion, and the inscription "FOR VALOUR". The ribbon is crimson, 1.5 inches wide.

Since its inception it has been awarded 1354 times. The largest number of VCs won in a single day was 24 on November 16, 1857 at the relief of Lucknow[?]. The largest number won in a single action was at Rorke's Drift on January 22, 1879. Since the end of the Second World War the VC has only been awarded 11 times. The the last two were won during the Falklands War in 1982. Only three people, one in the 20th century, have won the Victoria Cross twice, Noel Godfrey Chavasse, Arthur Martin-Leake and Charles Hazlitt Upham. This is known as VC and Bar as the person so awarded wears a small bar on the medal's ribbon instead of two medals.

The VC has, exceptionally, been awarded to the American Unknown Warrior[?].

Since the VC is awarded for acts of bravery "in the face of the enemy", it is thought by some that the changing nature of warfare will result in no more VCs being awarded. The last awards made were in 1982.

The corresponding civilian honour is the George Cross.

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