The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the British realm's highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. It has precedence over any other of our Sovereign's awards or Commonwealth decorations. The Victoria Cross was founded by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856. The Cross itself is cast from the bronze of cannons captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean War. The design, chosen by Queen Victoria, consists of a cross with the Royal Crest resting upon a scroll bearing the words "For Valour". Since its inception, the Victoria Cross has been awarded 1,354 times. The youngest recipient was 15 years old and the eldest was 69 years old. Three cases exist where both father and son have won the Victoria Cross; four pairs of brothers have also been recipients.
Extracts from the citation for the Victoria Cross: Company Sergeant Major Stanley Elton Hollis
During the assault on the beaches and the Mont Fleury battery, CSM Hollis' Company Commander noticed that two of the pillboxes had been bypassed and went with Hollis to see that they were clear. When they were 20 yards from the pillbox, a machine gun opened fire from a slit and CSM Hollis instantly rushed straight at the pillbox, recharging his magazine threw a grenade through the door and fired his Sten gun into it, killing two Germans and making the remainder prisoner. Later the same day ... the Company encountered a field gun and crew armed with Spandau’s at 100 yards range ... Hollis pushed forward to engage the gun with a PIAT from a house at 50 yards. He was observed by a sniper who fired and grazed his right cheek and at the same time the gun swung round and fired at point blank range into the house ... He later found that two of his men had stayed behind in the house and immediately volunteered to get them out. In full view of the enemy, who were continually firing at him, he went forward alone using a Bren gun to distract their attention from the other men. Under cover of his diversion, the two men were able to get back. Wherever the fighting was heaviest CSM Hollis appeared and, in the course of a magnificent day's work, he displayed utmost gallantry and on two separate occasions his courage and initiative prevented the enemy from holding up the advance.
KEY FACTS About the Victoria Cross:
•It was founded by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856
•It has been awarded 1,354 times
•The youngest recipient was 15 years old and the eldest was 69 years old
•One Victoria Cross was awarded following the D-Day Landings.
Bayeux Memorial which stands opposite the war cemetery and bears the names of the men of the commonwealth forces who have no known grave.
Today, the legacy of the D-Day Landings casts a powerful impact on the Normandy coastline. There are few locations in the world where there are so many memorials, museums, vehicles and military buildings available to be visited by those interested in the events of 6 June 1944. Indeed, what is now called "battlefield tourism" is big business. Despite fairly rapid post-war building development, traces of the German Atlantic Wall defences can be seen along much of the coastline. The remains of the "Mulberry" harbour dominate the waters off the coast at Arromanches: soon after D-Day had ended, the Allies towed the massive concrete structures of the "Mulberry" artificial harbour across the Channel and constructed this ready-to-use port facility. In addition, there are many dozens of memorials, monuments and museums that can be visited. Some of the key sites include the Pegasus Bridge Museum at Benouville, the Atlantic Wall Museum in Ouistreham, and the 6 June 1944 Museum at Arromanches. Out in the open, visitors stand little chance of finding even the smallest relic of the fighting, as the souvenir hunters have long since swept the whole area clean.
Finally, the D-Day battlefield also features the immaculately maintained Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Military Cemeteries. Those located near to the coast are Bayeux, Beny-sur-Mer, Cambes-en-Plaine, Douvres-la-Deliverande, Hermanville-su r-Mer, Ranville and Ryes, as well as the American and German cemeteries at St Laurent and La Cambe respectively. Those commemorating the 60th Anniversary of D-Day will, no doubt, wish to pay their respects to those military personnel who paid the ultimate price for bravery carrying out their duty in the cause of freedom.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains over 1,179,000 war graves at 23,203 burial sites in 148 countries around the world. It also commemorates a further 760,193 Commonwealth war dead on memorials to the missing.
Commonwealth governments share the cost of maintenance in proportion to the number
of graves of their war dead: UK - 79%; Canada - 10%; Australia - 6%; New Zealand - 2%; South Africa - 2%; India - 1 %.
Source: COI Communications