The Victoria Cross - Irish Domination

What is 1.375 inches wide, comes with suspender bar and link, weighs about 0.87 ounces, is the progeny of Russian and Chinese guns and has been coveted by Irish people more than any other nationality since its conception back in the middle of the 19th century? Please be upstanding for the Victoria Cross - the archetypal British gallantry award.

Ironically the Cross is not a Maltese Cross at all and instead it is closer to a cross patté. No matter, the fact is that it represents one of the highest honours a serving member of the British Armed Forces can receive and in this regard Irish war veterans remain in a class of their own in terms of the numbers honoured.

Ever since the Victoria Cross entered the lexicon of military affairs over 150 years ago, Irish people have figured prominently in the various Victoria Cross awards ceremonies which have been held in the aftermath of campaigns waged by the British Armed Forces overseas.

To date Victoria Cross medals have been awarded to soldiers who have been engaged in some 50 wars around the globe going back to the T’ai P’ing Rebellion (1851-1864) to the more recent Falkslands War (1982).

Of the 1,350 Victoria Cross medals awarded to date, Irish people have received 190 awards - the highest tally of any country, bar England (614) thus honoured. Scotland emerge in third place in the roll of honour with 158 awards and Australia comes next with 97 awards. Taking into account Irelands population our 190 crosses would be the equivalent of England gaining 2850. An extraordinary amount, but then again I suppose they do not call us the fighting Irish for nothing.

In all 24 countries boast at least one recipient among their number with the likes of Belgium, Fiji, Kenya, Newfoundland, Sweden, Switzerland and the Ukraine among the nine countries gaining entry on the list courtesy of a single award.

Not surprisingly most awards (626) were dispensed in the wake of the First World War (1914-1918). Interestingly a much lesser number, 181, were handed out following World War Two. Meanwhile it is fascinating to note that in the earliest campaign in which the medal featured (the aforementioned T’ai P’ing Rebellion) just one award was commissioned while two Victoria Cross medals were awarded following the Falklands War.

The Medal
Derived from the metal taken from guns captured from the Russians in the Crimean War and also for a short period from Chinese guns after the First World War, the Victoria Cross medal was designed by H.H. Armstead, a staff member of London jewellers Messrs. Hancocks and Co. of Burlington Gardens, London. The design was subsequently approved by Queen Victoria and Hancocks have been crafting the medal ever since.

The manufacture of the medal sees the Cross itself and the suspender being first cast in gunmetal and then chased and finished by hand. The components of the decoration are then treated chemically to obtain the uniform dark brown finish which is darker on some issues than on others.

Meanwhile, the date (or dates) of the act of gallantry is engraved in the centre circle while the details of the recipient are engraved in capital letters on the reverse of the suspender bar.

The details on the suspender bar include the rank, name and regiment, or other description of the recipient. Sometimes the inscription is of the same colour as the decoration itself.

Unsure 67 awards
American 5 awards
Australian 97 awards
Belgian 1 award
Canadian 90 awards
Celonese 1 award
Danish 4 awards
English 614 awards
Fijian 1 award
German 2 awards
Indian 29 awards
Irish 190 awards
Kenyan 1 award
Nepalese 11 awards
New Zealander 24 awards
Newfoundlander 1 award
Rhodesian 3 awards
Scottish 158 awards
Sikkimese 1 award
South African 20 awards
Swedish 1 award
Swiss 1 award
Ukrainian 1 award
Welsh 25 awards
West Indian 2 awards

ADAMS, James William 1879; Killa Kazi, Afghanistan
AGAR, Augustine William Shelton 1919; Kronstadt, Russia
ALEXANDER, Ernest Wright 1914; Elouges, Belgium
ALEXANDER, John 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
ANDERSON, Charles 1858; Sundial Oudh, India
AYLMER, Fenton John 1891; Nilt Fort, India
BARRY, John 1901; Monument Hill, South Africa
BELL, David 1867; Little Andaman, India
BELL, Edward William Derrington 1854; Battle of the Alma, Crimea
BELL, Eric Norman Frankland 1916; Thiepval, France
BERESFORD, Lord William Leslie de la Poer 1879; Ulundi, South Africa
BERGIN, James 1868; Magdala, Abyssinia (now Ethiopia)
BINGHAM, The Hon. Edward Barry Stewart 1916; Battle of Jutland, Denmark
BOULGER, Abraham 1857; Lucknow, India
BOYD-ROCHFORT, George Arthur 1915; Cambrin, France
BRADSHAW, Joseph 1855; Woronzoff Road, Crimea
BRADSHAW, William 1857; Lucknow, India
BROWN, Edward Douglas 1900; Geluk, South Africa
BROWN, Francis David Millet 1857; Narnoul, India
BURGOYNE, Hugh Talbot 1855; Sea of Azov, Crimea
BYRNE, James 1858; Jhansi, India
BYRNE, John 1854; Battle of Inkerman, Crimea
BYRNE, Thomas 1898; Battle of Khartoum, Sudan
CAFFREY, John 1915; La Brique, France
CAMBRIDGE, Daniel 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
CARLIN, Patrick 1858; Azumgurh, India
CATHER, Geoffrey St. George Shillington 1916; Hamel, France
COBBE, Alexander Stanhope 1902; Erego, Somaliland (now Somalia)
COFFEY, William 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
COGHILL, Nevill Josiah Aylmer 1879; Battle of Isandhlwana, South Africa
COLVIN, Hugh 1917; Ypres, Belgium
CONNORS, John 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
CONOLLY, John Augustus 1854; Sebastopol, Crimea
COSGROVE, William 1915; Gallipoli, Turkey
COSTELLO, Edmond William 1897; Malakand, India
COUGHLAN, Cornelius 1857; Delhi, India
CREAGH, O'Moore 1879; Kam Dakka, Afghanistan
CREAN, Thomas Joseph 1901; Tygerkloof Spruit, South Africa
CRIMMIN, John 1889; Lwekaw, Burma (now Myanmar)
CUNNINGHAM, John 1917; Bois-en-Hache, France
DANAHER, John (or DANAGHER) 1881; Elandsfontein, South Africa
DEASE, Maurice James 1914; Mons, Belgium
DEMPSEY, Denis 1857; Lucknow, India
DIAMOND, Bernard 1857; Bolandshahr, India
DIVANE, John 1857; Delhi, India
DONOHOE, Patrick 1857; Bolandshahr, India
DOOGAN, John 1881; Laingís Nek, South Africa
DOWLING, William 1857; Lucknow, India
DOYLE, Martin 1918; Reincourt, France
DUFFY, James 1917; Kereina Peak, Palestine
DUFFY, Thomas 1857; Lucknow, India
DUNLAY, John (or DUNLEY, or DUNLEA) 1857; Lucknow, India
DUNVILLE, John Spencer 1917; Epehy, France
DYNON, Denis 1857; Chota Behar, India
EDWARDS, Frederick Jeremiah 1916; Thiepval, France
EMERSON, James Samuel 1917; La Vacquerie, France
ERVINE-ANDREWS, Harold Marcus 1940; Dunkirk, France
ESMONDE, Eugene 1942; Straits of Dover, England
ESMONDE, Thomas 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
FARRELL, John 1854; Balaclava, Crimea
FEGEN, Edward Stephen Fogarty 1940; Atlantic
FitzCLARENCE, Charles 1899; Mafeking, South Africa
FitzGERALD, Richard 1857; Bolandshahr, India
FITZGIBBON, Andrew 1860; Taku Forts, China
FITZPATRICK, Francis 1879; Sekukuniís Town, South Africa
FLINN, Thomas 1857; Cawnpore, India
FORREST, George 1857; Delhi, India
FOWLER, Edmund John 1879; Zlobane Mountain, South Africa
GARDINER, George 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
GARLAND, Donald Edward 1940; Albert Canal, Belgium
GARVIN, Stephen 1857; Delhi, India
GILL, Peter 1857; Benares, India
GORE-BROWNE, Henry George 1857; Lucknow, India
GOUGH, Charles John Stanley 1857; Khurkowdah, India
GOUGH, Hugh Henry 1857; Alumbagh, India
GOUGH, John Edmund 1903; Daratoleh, Somaliland (now Somalia)
GRADY, Thomas 1854; Sebastopol, Crimea
GRAHAM, Patrick 1857; Lucknow, India
GRANT, Peter 1857; Lucknow, India
GREEN, Patrick 1857; Delhi, India
GRIFFITHS, William 1867; Little Andaman, India
HACKETT, Thomas Bernard 1857; Lucknow, India
HAMILTON, Thomas de Courcy 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
HAMILTON, Walter Richard Pollock 1879; Futtehabad, Afghanistan
HARRISON, John 1857; Lucknow, India
HART, Reginald Clare 1879; Bazar Valley, Afghanistan
HARTIGAN, Henry 1857; Battle of Badle-ke-Serai, India
HAWTHORNE, Robert 1857; Delhi, India
HILL, Samuel 1857; Lucknow, India
HOLLAND, John Vincent 1916; Guillemont, France
HUGHES, Thomas 1916; Guillemont, France
IRWIN, Charles 1857; Lucknow, India
JACKMAN, James Joseph Bernard 1941; Tobruk, Libya
JENNINGS, Edward 1857; Lucknow, India
JOHNSTON, Robert 1899; Battle of Elandslaagte, South Africa
JONES, Henry Mitchell 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
KAVANAGH, Thomas Henry 1857; Lucknow, India
KEATINGE, Richard Harte 1858; Chundairee, India
KELLY, Henry 1916; Le Sars, France
KENEALLY, William 1915; Gallipoli, Turkey
KENNA, Paul Aloysius 1898; Battle of Khartoum, Sudan
KENNY, Henry Edward 1915; Loos, France
KENNY, William 1914; Ypres, Belgium
KENNY, William David 1920; Kot Kai, India
LAMBERT, George 1857; Oonao, India
LANE, Thomas 1860; Taku Forts, China
LAUGHNAN, Thomas 1857; Lucknow, India
LAWRENCE, Samuel Hill 1857; Lucknow, India
LEACH, Edward Pemberton 1879; Maidanah, Afghanistan
LEET, William Knox 1879; Inhlobana, South Africa
LENDRIM, William James 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
LLOYD, Owen Edward Pennefather 1893; Fort Sima, Burma (now Myanmar)
LORD, David Samuel Anthony 1944; Arnhem, Holland
LUCAS, Charles Davis 1854; Aland Islands, Finland
LUCAS, John 1861; New Zealand
LYONS, John 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
LYSTER, Harry Hammon 1858; Calpee, India
MADDEN, Ambrose 1854; Little Inkerman, Crimea
MAGENNIS, James Joseph 1945; Johore Straits, Singapore
MAGNER, Michael 1868; Magdala, Abyssinia (now Ethiopia)
MAHONEY, Patrick 1857; Mungulwar, India
MANLEY, William George Nicholas 1864; Tauranga, New Zealand
MASTERSON, James Edward Ignatius 1900; Ladysmith, South Africa
MAUDE, Frederick Francis 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
McCORRIE (or McCURRY), Charles 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
McCUDDEN, James Thomas Byford 1917; France
McFADZEAN, William Frederick 1916; Thiepval Wood, France
McGOVERN, John 1857; Delhi, India
McGUIRE, James 1857; Delhi, India
McHALE, Patrick 1857; Lucknow, India
McMANUS, Peter 1857; Lucknow, India
McMASTER, Valentine Monee 1857; Lucknow, India
McQUIRT, Bernard 1858; Rowa, India
McWHEENEY, William 1854; Sebastopol, Crimea
MOFFAT, Martin 1918; Ledeghem, Belgium
MOORE, Arthur Thomas 1857; Battle of Khoosh-ab, Persia
MOORE, Hans Garrett 1877; Komgha, South Africa
MORROW, Robert 1915; Messines, Belgium
MOYNEY, John 1917; Broembeek, Belgium
MOYNIHAN, Andrew 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
MULLANE, Patrick 1880; Maiwand, Afghanistan
MURPHY, Michael 1858; Azumgurh, India
MURPHY, Thomas 1867; Little Andaman, India
MURRAY, James 1881; Elandsfontein, South Africa
MURRAY, John 1864; Tauranga, New Zealand
MYLOTT, Patrick 1857; Lucknow, India
NASH, William 1858; Lucknow, India
NELSON, David 1914; Nery, France
NURSE, George Edward 1899; Battle of Colenso, South Africa
O'CONNOR, Luke 1854; Battle of the Alma, Crimea
O'HEA, Timothy 1866; Danville, Canada
OLPHERTS, William 1857; Lucknow, India
O'SULLIVAN, Gerald Robert 1915; Gallipoli, Turkey
OWENS, James 1854; Sebastopol, Crimea
PARK, John 1854; Battle of the Alma, Crimea
PEARSON, James 1858; Jhansi, India
PROBYN, Dighton MacNaghton 1857; Battle of Agra, India
PROSSER, Joseph 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
PURCELL, John 1857; Delhi, India
QUIGG, Robert 1916; Hamel, France
RAYMOND, Claude 1945; Talaku, Burma (now Myanmar)
REED, Hamilton Lyster 1899; Battle of Colenso, South Africa
REYNOLDS, James Henry 1879; Rorkeís Drift, South Africa
RICHARDSON, George 1859; Kewane Trans-Gogra, India
RIDGEWAY, Richard Kirby 1879; Konoma, India
ROBERTS, Frederick Hugh Sherston (The Hon.) 1899; Battle of Colenso, South Africa
ROBERTS, Frederick Sleigh 1858; Khodagunge, India
ROBERTSON, Clement 1917; Zonnebeke, Belgium
RODDY, Patrick 1858; Kuthirga, India
ROGERS, Robert Montresor 1860; Taku Forts, China
RYAN, John 1857; Lucknow, India
RYAN, John 1863; Cameron Town, New Zealand
RYAN, Miles 1857; Delhi, India
SCOTT, Robert 1900; Caesarís Camp, South Africa
SINNOTT, John 1857; Lucknow, India
SLEAVON, Michael 1858; Jhansi, India
SMITH, Frederick Augustus 1864; Tauranga, New Zealand
SMITH, Philip 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
SOMERS, James 1915; Gallipoli, Turkey
STAGPOOLE, Dudley 1863; Poutoko, New Zealand
SULLIVAN, John 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
TEMPLE, William 1863; Rangiriri, New Zealand
TRAVERS, James 1857; Indore, India
TRAYNOR, William Bernard 1901; Bothwell Camp, South Africa
WALKER, Mark 1854; Inkerman, Crimea
WARD, Joseph 1858; Gwalior, India
WHIRLPOOL, Frederick 1858; Jhansi, India
WHITE, George Stuart 1879; Charasiah, Afghanistan
WRIGHT, Alexander 1855; Sebastopol, Crimea
YOUNG, Alexander 1901; Ruiterskraal, South Africa

Crimean War (1854 - 1856) 111 awards
Persian War (1856 - 1857) 3 awards
Indian Mutiny (1857 - 1859) 182 awards
Taranaki Maori War, New Zealand (1860 - 1861) 2 awards
Third China War (1860 - 1862) 7 awards
Umbeyla Campaign (1863) 2 awards
Shimonoseki Expedition, Japan (1864) 3 awards
T'ai P'ing Rebellion (1851 - 1864) 1 award
Bhutan War (1864 - 1865) 2 awards
Canada (1866) 1 award
The Gambia (1866) 1 award
Waikato-Hauhau Maori War, New Zealand (1863 - 1866) 13 awards
Andaman Islands Expedition (1867) 5 awards
Abyssinia Expedition (1867 - 1868) 2 awards
Looshai Expedition, India (1872) 1 award
First Ashanti Expedition (1873 - 1874) 4 awards
Malaya (1875 - 1876) 1 award
Baluchistan (1877) 1 award
Ninth Cape Frontier War (1877 - 1878) 1 award
Zulu War (1879) 23 awards
Second Afghan War (1878 - 1880) 16 awards
Second Naga Hills Expedition (1879 - 1880) 1 award
First Boer War (1880 - 1881) 6 awards
Basuto War (1879 - 1882) 6 awards
Occupation of Egypt (1882) 3 awards
Sudan (1881 - 1885) 4 awards
Chin Field Force, Burma (1889) 1 award
Karen-Ni Expedition, Burma (1888 - 1889) 1 award
Hunza-Naga Campaign, India (1891) 3 awards
Manipur Expedition, India (1891) 1 award
The Gambia (2nd) (1892) 1 award
Kachin Hills Expedition, Burma (1892 - 1893) 1 award
North West Frontier, India (1895) 1 award
Matabeleland Rebellion, Rhodesia (1896) 2 awards
Mashona Rebellion, Rhodesia (1896 - 1897) 1 award
Crete (1898) 1 award
Malakand Frontier War, India (1897 - 1898) 1 award
Mohmand Campaign, India (1897 - 1898) 3 awards
Tirah Campaign, India (1897 - 1898) 7 awards
Boxer Rising, China (1900) 2 awards
Sudan Campaign (1896 - 1900) 6 awards
Third Ashanti Expedition (1900 - 1901) 2 awards
Second Somaliland Expedition (1902) 1 award
South African War (Boer War) (1899 - 1902) 78 awards
Kano-Sokoto Expedition, Nigeria (1903) 1 award
Third Somaliland Expedition (1902 - 1903) 3 awards
Armed Mission to Tibet (1903 - 1904) 1 award
Fourth Somaliland Expedition (1903 - 1905) 2 awards
First World War (1914 - 1918) 626 awards
North Russia Relief Force (1919) 5 awards
Arab Revolt, Mesopotamia (1920) 1 award
Waziristan Campaign, India (1919 - 1921) 3 awards
Mohmand Campaign, India (2nd) (1935) 1 award
Second World War (1939 - 1945) 181 awards
Korean War (1950 - 1953) 4 awards
Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation (1963 - 1966) 1 award
Vietnam War (1959 - 1975) 4 awards
Falklands War (1982) 2 awards