Victoria Cross (Canada)

Victoria Cross (Canada)

Infobox Military Award
name = Victoria Cross

caption = The Canadian Victoria Cross, as appearing in a promotional photograph from the Canadian government, May, 2008.
awarded_by = the
type = Medal
eligibility = The recipient must be a member of the Canadian Forces or a member of an allied armed force that is serving with or in conjunction with the Canadian Forces, on or after January 1, 1993.
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.
status = Currently awarded
description =
clasps =
established = February 2, 1993
first_award =
last_award =
total =
posthumous =
recipients = 0
individual =
higher =
same =
lower = Cross of Valour

caption2 =

The Victoria Cross of Canada (Post-nominal letters "VC") is a military award for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force. It can be awarded to members of the Canadian Forces of any rank in any service, and to allies serving under or with Canadian military command; it is the highest honour in the Canadian honours system, placed before all other orders, decorations and medals, including the Order of Canada, in the Order of Precedence. Whereas in many other Commonwealth countries, the Victoria Cross can only be awarded for actions against the enemy in a wartime setting, the Canadian government has a broader definition of the term "enemy," and so the Victoria Cross can be awarded for action against armed mutineers, pirates or other such hostile forces without war being officially declared. The recipient is entitled to an annuity of CAD$3,000 a year. [cite web|url=|title=Pro Valore: Canada's Victoria Cross|publisher=National Defence|year=2008|format=pdf|accessdate=2008-09-19]

The Canadian medal is based on the original Victoria Cross, instituted in 1856, although the Canadian version has several small changes in its appearance. It is presented to the recipient by the Monarch or the Governor General of Canada . It can be awarded more than once, but no one has received the award since its creation in 1993.


:"For more details on this topic, see Victoria Cross#Origin"The original Victoria Cross was created through a Royal Warrant issued by Queen Victoria, on January 29, 1856, in order to recognize incidents of gallantry that were unconnected with a man's lengthy or meritorious service. Ashcroft, Michael. Introduction.] Originally, the VC could not be awarded posthumously, and could not be awarded to Indian or African troops (although it could be awarded to their European officers).cite web |url= |title=Victoria Cross TV programme notes |publisher=fiveTV |accessdate=2007-06-17] However, one colonial soldier, Major Charles Heaphy, was awarded the VC retrospectively for his actions in 1864, as he was under British command. Following this, the VC was made available to all "local forces under imperial command." [cite web |last=McLintock, ed. |first=A.H. |url= |title=Heaphy, Charles |work= An Encyclopedia of New Zealand|date=Originally published in 1966; Updated 2007-08-23 |accessdate=2007-08-23] In 1905, it was made available to be awarded posthumously

In 1972 the Canadian honours system was overhauled and the Victoria Cross was omitted from the official list of Honours. The debate about whether to reinstate the Victoria Cross raged throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. The Prime Minister of the time, Pierre Trudeau, regularly dodged questions about the award, stating "that only Canadians should receive Canadian decorations." [cite news|url=
last=Campbell |first=Murray |last2=Moore |first2=Oliver |title=Top honour now cast in Canada |publisher=The Globe and Mail |date=2007-03-03 |accessdate=2007-09-06

Three years after his appointment as Prime Minister in 1984, Brian Mulroney set up a committee to look into the creation of a Canadian Victoria Cross as part of a new set of military honours. [cite encyclopedia |last=Lochnan |first=Carl |work=The Canadian Encyclopedia |url= |title=Victoria Cross |accessdate=2007-09-06] Although the committee did not recommend the Victoria Cross, pressure from lobbying groups such as the Monarchist League of Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion forced the plans to be amended.Dundas, Charles (Summer, 2007). "Canadian Monarchist News". VC Not Presented at Vimy Commemoration.] [cite web|url= |title=Honours of the Crown |publisher=The Monarchist League of Canada |accessdate=2007-09-05] In 1991, a Private Member's Bill received all-party support in the House of Commons, following which the Victoria Cross, along with other Canadian military valour decorations, were formally requested on December 31, 1992, by Mulroney. The request was approved by the issue of Letters Patent by Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada, on February 2, 1993. The other awards approved were the Star of Military Valour and the Medal of Military Valour. Upon the creation of the awards, coined the "Modern Honours of Canada", the Canadian honours system was no longer dependent on the British.

By 1990, other Commonwealth countries had begun to develop their own distinct military awards systems. In 1991, Australia created a separate awards system and introduced the Victoria Cross for Australia as the highest award for gallantry. [cite web| url= |title=Victoria Cross for Australia information |publisher=Australian Government |accessdate=2007-08-07 |archiveurl= |archivedate=2005-06-24] In 1999 New Zealand introduced the Victoria Cross for New Zealand which still uses the same gunmetal as the original Victoria Cross.Cite web |url= |title=New Zealand Honours |publisher=Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet |accessdate=2007-01-30]


The Canadian Victoria Cross, as with the British 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."cite web |url= |title=Victoria Cross (Canadian version) |publisher=Canadian Veterans affairs department |accessdate=2007-08-23] The Canadian government has defined the term "enemy" as a force hostile towards the Canadian government, which includes the following: armed mutineers, armed rebels, armed rioters, and armed pirates. Canada does not officially have to declare war to give acknowledgement of the existence of a hostile force that fits the above description. This means that a Canadian serving as part of a peacekeeping operation is eligible to be awarded the VC if the servicemember fulfils the above criteria. The time period for the service to be eligible for the Victoria Cross is on or after January 1, 1993. The Victoria Cross, along with the other military valour decorations, can be awarded posthumously. Unlike the British VC, the Canadian Victoria Cross can be revoked.

In the case of a "gallant and daring act" being performed by a squadron, ship's company or a detached body of men (such as marines) in which all men are deemed equally brave and deserving of the Victoria Cross then a ballot is drawn. The officers select one officer, the NCOs select one individual and the private soldiers or seamen select two individuals. [Original Warrant, Clause 13: " _an. Thirteenthly. It is ordained that in the event of a gallant and daring act having been performed by a squadron, ship's company, or detached body of seamen and marines not under fifty in number, or by a brigade, regiment, troop or company in which the admiral, general, or other officer commanding such forces may deem that all are equally brave and distinguished, and that no special selection can be made by them, then is such case the admiral, general, or other officer commanding, may direct that for any such body of seamen or marines, or for every troop or company of soldiers, one officer shall be selected by the officers engaged for the Decoration, and in like manner one petty officer or non-commissioned officer shall be selected by the petty officers and non-commissioned officers engaged, and two seamen or private soldiers or marines shall be selected by the seamen, or private soldiers, or marines engaged, respectively for the Decoration, and the names of those selected shall be transmitted by the senior officers in command of the Naval force, brigade, regiment, troop, or company, to the admiral or general officer commanding, who shall in due manner confer the Decoration as if the acts were done under his own eye."]


Ninety-four Canadians and Newfoundlanders were awarded the British VC, the last in 1945. The last living recipient, Smokey Smith, died in 2005. No one has been awarded or nominated for the Canadian VC to date, though there were announcements that Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, would present a Victoria Cross to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in recognition of the gallantry of the Unknown Soldier, at the rededication of the Vimy Memorial on April 7, 2007, the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. [cite web| News Staff | url=| title=Top military honour now cast in Canadahub |work=CTV News |date=2007-03-03 |accessdate= 2007-07-12] The proposal was met with a mixed response from members of the Royal Canadian Legion and Canadian Forces; detractors felt the Unknown Soldier should not be elevated above his other fallen comrades. It had also been agreed at the time of the repatriation of the Unknown Soldier that no award or decoration would be bestowed on the remains. [cite news| url= |last=Teotonio |first=Isabel |work=Toronto Star |title=Vets irate at Victoria Cross proposal |date=2007-03-07|accessdate=2007-07-12] Ultimately the plan to award the VC to the Unknown Soldier was quietly dropped. It should be noted that the American Unknown Soldier has been awarded the British Victoria Cross and the British Unknown Soldier was awarded the American Medal of Honor, while the Canadian soldier has received neither of these awards. [cite web |url= |title=Medal of Honor recipients awarded by Special Acts of Congress |publisher=United States Army |accessdate=2007-08-23]

The process of awarding the VC can be done in two ways. The first method is recommendation by a committee called the Military Valour Decoration Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of six members: one appointed by the Governor General and the rest appointed by the Chief of Defence Staff. The second method can be started by the field commanders. However, the commanders must have permission from the Governor General before the award can take place. Recipients of the medal are entitled to an annuity paid by the Canadian Government. As of January 2005, under the "Canadian Gallantry Awards Order", members of the Canadian Forces or people who joined the British forces before March 31, 1949 while domiciled in Canada or Newfoundland receive $3,000 per year. [cite web |url= |title=Canadian Gallantry Awards Order |publisher=Canadian Legal Information Institute |accessdate=2007-06-30]


The first Victoria Cross medal was struck in 2007, while Canada was at war in Afghanistan. Preparations to create a physical medal were begun in 2006, and it was confirmed by Deputy Herald Chancellor Emmanuelle Sajous that at least one Victoria Cross had been created. The medal was officially released to the public on May 16, 2008 at Rideau Hall by the Governor General and the Prime Minister. [cite web |url= |title=Canadian Victoria Cross unveiled |last=El Akkad |first=Omar |date=2008-05-17 |publisher=Globe and Mail |accessdate=2008-05-17] The medal is described as a cross with straight arms, measuring 38 mm across, made out of bronze. On the obverse, a lion in the guardant position is standing upon the Royal Crown. Below the Crown, there is a scroll bearing the inscription "PRO VALORE" (Latin for "For Valour"). On the reverse of the medal, there is a raised circle, in which the date of the action the VC was awarded for will be engraved.

The medal is suspended from a link forming the letter V. The V is attached to a bar adorned with laurel leaves. On the reverse of this bar, the name of the recipient, his rank, and his unit will be engraved. The suspension device and the bar is also made out of bronze. In the case of a double award, a bar with laurel leaves will be worn on the medal. The ribbon bar is also 38 mm wide and is described as a crimson colour. This ribbon design is also used on the British VC. [Ashcroft, Michael, p. 16.]

The Canadian VC is based on the British version. The original insignia was created by Prince Albert, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria. The Canadian modifications to the VC were done by Bruce Beatty and Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The obverse is the same, except for the scroll. The British version has the words "For Valour" in English only while the Canadian version uses the Latin translation in order that it might be equally appropriate for Anglophones and Francophones.cite web| |url= |title=Canadian Forces page on the medal |publisher=Canadian Armed Forces |accessdate=2007-07-12]


The Victoria Cross is the highest Canadian decoration in the Canadian honours system, thus it is placed before all other Canadian decorations, including the Order of Canada. It is worn on the left breast as a medal. When the use of a medal is inappropriate, a ribbon bar is worn. The ribbon bar consists of a crimson ribbon, with a small VC medal in bronze placed in the centre of the ribbon bar. When there is a second award of the VC, two small VC medals will be placed evenly on the ribbon bar.

ee also

* List of Canadian Victoria Cross recipients



* cite book
last = Ashcroft
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Ashcroft
title = Victoria Cross Heroes
publisher = Headline Book Publishing
year = 2006
doi =
isbn =0755316320

* cite book
last = Beharry
first = Johnson
authorlink = Johnson Beharry
title = Barefoot Soldier
publisher = Sphere
year = 2006
doi =
isbn =0-316-73321-0

* cite book
coauthors= Government of Canada
title= Pro Valore: Canada's Victoria Cross
publisher= Department of National Defence
year= 2008

* cite book
last = Blatherwick
first = Francis John
authorlink = Francis John Blatherwick
title = Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals
publisher = Toronto: Unitrade Press
year = 2003
isbn = 978-0-91980-1103

* cite book
last = McCreery
first = Christopher
authorlink = Christopher McCreery
title = The Canadian Honours System
publisher = Toronto: Dundurn Press
year = 2005
isbn = 078-1-55002-554-5

* cite book
last = McCreery
first = Christopher
authorlink = Christopher McCreery
title = The Beginner's Guide to Canadian Honours
publisher = Toronto: Dundurn Press
year = 2008
isbn = 978-1-55002-748-8
:"See also:

External links

* [ Pro Valore: Canada's Victoria Cross]
* [ Administrative Order 18-4 Recommendations for Canadian Orders, Decorations and Military Honours]
* [ Canadian Orders, Decorations and Military Honours]

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