About

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

6 Responses to “About”

  1. Ross Mahoney Says:

    While I agree that the use of the internet is the furure for promoting history as a subject. I think we have to be aware the time constraints that are placed upon use. As Dan Todman has rightly pointed out, the fact that the RAE does not count this type of activity as research is going to limit the number of historians who. Though it is interesting to note that in Education Studies bloggin is actively pushed, but that is more to do with the reflective nature of the subject and it is seen as a useful tool for recording thoughts and opinion. It is worse for none university lecturers. I lecture at a FE college and here it is all about the teaching and we are given no RCC to conduct research or writing. Therefore, it all must be done in our own time. There are those of us at my college pursueing research at postgraduate level, which will be of benefit top the college. However, we are not given the time to conduct it. So the main problem is that while the internet and blogging in particaular may be a useful tool until it is supported more fully it will continue to be those few of us who find the few hours every so often that keep this field alive. Only time will tell how well it is taken on board at university level. I suppose if it does it will become a more widely recognised tool for all from the amatuer to the professional historian.

  2. Jane Stemp Says:

    “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.”

    Ummm … there were naval VCs too – perhaps you could rephrase that? (one particular naval VC was even awarded when the country was not actually at war. The recipient wrote “The authorities seem loth to award VC’s to naval officers, they keep them for their pet soldiers” ;->

  3. george smith Says:

    I am looking for the whereabouts of the wakenshaw vc as my fater served with him in egypt with the dli..

  4. Sanjuana Stolarz Says:

    The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.


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