Cross Recipients

spacer Countless acts of bravery and heroism went unnoticed or unrecorded during the World Wars. Where outstanding acts of courage were witnessed and documented, the individuals were honoured by the Commonwealth for their acts of heroism and bravery by several kinds of military medals. The highest medals awarded for bravery were the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. These medals are described below, followed by the stories of some of Canada's Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients.

Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross, instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria, is the premiere Commonwealth decoration for heroism in combat. It is awarded in recognition of conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy. The decoration, in the form of a bronze cross whose four arms become much wider as they extend from the center, bears the Royal Crest and the words "For Valour." It is suspended from a dark crimson ribbon.

Since a Canadian, Lieutenant Alexander Roberts Dunn, won the Victoria Cross in the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, ninety-three Canadians have received the award, sixty-nine of them in the First World War and sixteen in the Second World War.

The Victoria Cross could not be awarded to a civilian. However, during the aerial bombing on Britain early in World War Two, it soon became obvious that citizens should be rewarded for their numerous acts of conspicuous bravery. In response, King George VI established the George Cross in 1940. It is awarded in recognition of extraordinary acts of bravery by civilian or military personnel.

George Cross

The George Cross

The George Cross, the second highest Commonwealth decoration, has been awarded to eight Canadians and one non-Canadian serving in a Canadian military unit. The decoration, in the form of a silver cross, bears a representation of Saint George slaying the dragon and the words "For Gallantry." It is suspended from a garter blue ribbon.

The Canadians who won these decorations were men of great courage. The Canadian recipients of the VC and GC from the First and Second World Wars are listed below with brief summaries of the acts that won them the highest medals for bravery .

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