The boys are both doing World War 2 as their history topic this year, so we have been doing a bit of extra reading and finding out about some of the astounding bravery shown by soldiers, spys, animals and members of the public during this war.
We found out a bit more about the Victoria Cross, the highest level of award, given for “… most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.”
It was only awarded 182 times during the whole of the WW2, often posthumously, meaning that it was awarded to someone who died as a result of their actions. One soldier from New Zealand, Charles Upham, amazingly won the Victoria Cross on two separate occasions and lived to tell the tale.
Interesting Facts about the Victoria Cross
- It was introduced by Queen Victoria during the Crimean War.
- The original Crosses were supposed to be made from the metal from a Russian cannon captured during the Crimean War.
- There is enough of this metal left to make another 80 medals (approximately.)
- If a group of men were found to be all brave then a ballot is drawn to see who would receive the medal.
- If you are awarded a Victoria Cross the government will also give you a small amount of money each year for the rest of your life.
- Since WWII it has been awarded another 16 occasions.
- A total of 1,359 Victoria Crosses have ever been awarded.
- No woman has ever been awarded the Victoria Cross.
Make your own Victoria Cross
After reading all of this, it only seemed right that we should make some of our own medals. We used some Newclay Airdough to make them, but I think any air drying clay would work just as well.
First take a look at some of the original medals – the Victoria Cross is made of bronze, in a cross shape with the words ‘for valour’ on the front. It also has the crown of Saint Edward with a lion on top of it, though this is much trickier to make, so best of luck with that!
We cut the cross shape out, then added details as best we could.
We left it overnight to dry then mixed some gold and black paints to make a bronze colour.
Once the paint was dry we stuck the crimson ribbon on with some glue.
Finished! We made a few other medals while we were at it. You can copy some real medals – have a look here to see some, or you can create some of your own. How about the ‘Friendship medallion’ the ‘Kindest Sibling Cross’ or the ‘Homework Star’?
STOP PRESS! Have a look at this news story about the most recent soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross, Joshua Leakey, a paratrooper who showed “complete disregard” for his own safety during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.