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The Victoria Cross

On January 29, 1856, Royal Warrant created the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest recognition 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. The award is made to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Since 1856 1355 VCs have been awarded.

At last report, there were eleven living holders of the VC – five British, two Australians and four Gurkhas – seven of them for exploits during the Second World War. The most recent Victoria Cross was awarded to Private Johnson Beharry, 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in May-June 2004 at Al-Amarah in southern Iraq.

"A history of Britain's most famous medal, and a moving examination of the nature of extreme courage," Max Arthur's book lists VC holders and details of the actions for which they were awarded the VC .