This site is the home of my research about the Victoria Cross.
In 2004 I completed a Masters Degree in Military Studies. Though I was offered a PhD position at Manchester University, I decided instead to pursue a career as a writer. However, the research has never disappeared and my thinking on the subject has continued unabated.
The result is this site.
So here’s my big idea:
The British Army is not an independent body operating above and beyond the feeling of the general public. Instead, I believe it is a reactive organisation, responsive to the feelings of British society as a whole. I also believe that the manner the Victoria Cross has been awarded in the past, was not dictated by strict military rules, but instead as a symptom of the relationship between the army and the general public.
This makes the Victoria Cross a political, not military medal.
Below is the preface to my Master’s thesis:
In 1997 Terry Deary published a book called True War Stories. The introduction related a story regarding a Second World War Victoria Cross holder. Deary tells the tale of the curator of the Durham Light Infantry regimental museum being approached by a female relative of Eric Mohn, a soldier killed alongside Wakenshaw in the action that saw the Victoria Cross awarded. [i] She explained that Wakenshaw had bullied Mohn to the point of suicide and goes on to question the validity of such a man holding the hero status granted to Wakenshaw. What is remarkable about this story, is not its content or even the questions it poses about the societies relationship with it’s heroes, but the manner in which the author openly questions the status of a Victoria Cross hero. It is a phenomenon which, with the exception of Henry Stannus’ work in 1882, is not witnessed in British literature until the retrospective analysis of ‘H’ Jones’ Victoria Cross award during the Falklands campaign. This thesis sets out to understand why today’s society holds the Victoria Cross in so much esteem and examines the social, political and military factors that came together in 1854 to allow the institution of a medal, whose format was alien to anything to all that had gone previously.
[i] Deary has changed the name of the soldier to Adam Wakefield.
Deary, T., True war stories (Hippo 1997), pp. 8-13