MOD to pay annuities to members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross

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Photo showing five VC winners in middle of image. L-R: Mrs Joanna Ruddock (Chief Operating Offier Firepower); Mark Smith, Curator, Firepower; Cpl Johnson Gideon Beharry VC. 1 Bn Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. VC: Iraq 1 May and 11 June 2004; Cpl Benjamin Roberts-Smith VC. Australian Special Air Service Regiment. VC: Afghanistan, 11 June 2010; WO2 Keith Payne VC, Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam. VC: Vietnam, 24 May 1969; Sgt William Speakman VC.

The Government have now confirmed the continuation of the uplifted annuities of £10,000 per annum to all living recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.

It is expected that in the future, these funds will be paid from HM Treasury as one consolidated payment, and officials from both MOD and the Cabinet Office will work closely with the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association to ensure consistency of approach between military and civilian recipients.

The Government says it reiterates its admiration and gratitude to both Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients, who represent the best of selfless service to others.

The actual specimen Victoria Cross medal that was approved by Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour “in the presence of the enemy” to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously.

It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

The VC medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, of which 11 were to members of the British Army and four were to members of the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War.

The George Cross (GC) is the highest award bestowed by the British government for non-operational gallantry or gallantry not in the presence of an enemy. In the UK honours system, the George Cross is equal in stature to the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry award. This has been the case since the introduction of the award in 1940. 

It is awarded “for acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger”, not in the presence of the enemy, to members of the British armed forces and to British civilians. Posthumous awards have been allowed since it was instituted.

Since its inception in 1940, the GC has been awarded 409 times, 394 to men, 12 to women, one award to the Island of Malta, one to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and one to the National Health Service. 

In 2015, the former Chancellor announced in his Summer Budget Statement an increase in the annuity to £10,000 and granted £3m London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) funds to the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association for the purposes of support to widows, events and administrative costs.

Since then the Association has been seeking reassurance that the Government will maintain the level of the annuity at £10,000 when the LIBOR funds run out, which is anticipated to be in 2027.

Maintaining the value of the annuity at £10,000 demonstrates the MOD’s commitment to this small group of brave individuals who have acted so selflessly while conducting their military duties, often risking their own lives to save others.

To discover over 250 stories of people who faced adversity and performed acts of bravery and were awarded either a Victoria Cross (VC) or George Cross (GC) – the highest recognitions of bravery that can be given by Britain and, for many years, the Commonwealth click here.

The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, of which 11 were to members of the British Army and four were to members of the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War. The traditional explanation of the source of the metal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannons captured at the siege of Sevastopol. However, research has indicated another origin for the material. Historian John Glanfield has established that the metal for most of the medals made since December 1914 came from two Chinese cannons, and that there is no evidence of Russian origin
George Cross (GC). Awarded to the highest gallantry award for civilians, the GC is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of gallantry not in presence of the enemy. Description: A plain, bordered cross in silver. The obverse of the medal (shown here) bears in the centre a circular medallion depicting St. George and the Dragon surrounded by the words ‘FOR GALLANTRY’. In the angle of each limb of the cross is the Royal Cypher ‘GVI’. The reverse is plain in design and bears the rank, name and service, or description, if appropriate, of the recipient. The date of notification of the award in the London Gazette, rather than the date of the act of gallantry, is also engraved. Clasp. A silver bar ornamented with laurels in the same design as the suspender may be issued to GC holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the GC, though none have been awarded to date. Ribbon. Dark blue. When the ribbon alone is worn a replica of the cross in miniature is affixed to the centre of the ribbon. History. As Britain came under intense air attack during the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill thought that a new medal to recognise the many acts of gallantry being performed by civilians should be introduced. Although awards to recognise civilian gallantry not in presence of the enemy already existed, none held the prestige of the equivalent award for gallantry in battle, the Victoria Cross. The King agreed and in January 1941 the Warrant relating to award of the George Cross was published.

Copyright: © Crown Copyright 2007 OGL Open License

Main Image Photographer: SSgt Ian Vernon – Crown Copyright. MOD News License

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