Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst known as Sandhurst, is one of several military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army's initial officer training centre. It is located in the town of Sandhurst, though its ceremonial entrance is in Camberley, southwest of London; the Academy's stated aim is to be "the national centre of excellence for leadership". All British Army officers, including late-entry officers who were Warrant Officers, as well as other men and women from overseas, are trained at The Academy. Sandhurst is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College Cranwell, the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. Despite its name, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's address is located in Camberley; the county border is marked by a small stream known as the Wish Stream, after which the Academy journal is named. The "Main Gate" is located on the east of the Academy on the London Road in Camberley; the "College Town Gate", used for regular access, is located on the west of the Academy on Yorktown Road in Sandhurst.
The present Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was founded in 1947 with the merger of two institutions: the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. The first Military Academy had been established in 1720 at Woolwich, a town absorbed into south-east London, to train cadets for commissions in the Royal Artillery. Known as the "Shop", this academy moved to a permanent site at Woolwich Common in 1806 and was granted royal status in 1841. In 1806, the Military Academy took on the training of Royal Engineers officer cadets and Royal Signals cadets. In 1799, a school for staff officers was established at High Wycombe, in 1801 this became the Senior Department of the newly established Royal Military College, the brainchild of Colonel John Le Marchant, he opened the Junior Department of the College at a large house in West Street in Great Marlow in 1802 to train "Gentleman Cadets" for the infantry and cavalry regiments of the British Army and of the Presidency armies of British India.
Coincidentally, 1802 was the year of foundation of Saint-Cyr in France and of West Point in the United States. In 1812 the Junior Department of the Royal Military College moved from Great Marlow into buildings designed by James Wyatt at Sandhurst. A few years the Junior Department was joined at Sandhurst from High Wycombe by the Senior Department, which in 1858 became a separate institution, the Staff College. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Sandhurst became the home of 161 Infantry Officer Cadet Training Unit, which moved to Mons Barracks, Aldershot in 1942; the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was formed in 1947 on the site of the former Royal Military College from a merger between it and the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, which trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 to 1939. Following the ending of National Service in the UK and the closing of the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in 1972, the RMAS became the sole establishment for male initial officer training in the British Army, taking over the responsibilities of Mons for training Short Service Officer Cadets, Territorial Army officers, those joining the Regular Army as graduates.
In 1984, the Women's Officer Training College Bagshot was merged into Sandhurst. In 1992, a new Commissioning Course unified the training of male and overseas cadets; the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Collection illustrates the history of the Royal Military Academy, the Royal Military College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The collection includes the Gentlemen Cadet registers, historic archives, paintings and other artefacts. For the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the newly created Academy hosted the running leg of the modern pentathlon competition. Contemporary training at Sandhurst was the subject of a three-part television series, first broadcast by BBC television in October 2011, rebroadcast in April 2012. In 2012 Sandhurst accepted a £15 million donation from the government of United Arab Emirates for the Zayed Building, an accommodation block, named after the UAE's founding ruler. In 2013 Sandhurst accepted a donation of £3 million from the Government of Bahrain for the refurbishment of Mons Hall, named in honour of the men who fell in the Battle of Mons.
It was renamed as King Hamad Hall in honour of the King of Bahrain, which generated some controversy in the United Kingdom. In 2015 Sandhurst appointed Lucy Giles as the first female college commander in its history. Potential officers are identified by the Army Officer Selection Board situated in Westbury in Wiltshire. Nearly 10 percent of British cadets are female and nearly 10 percent of all cadets come from overseas. More than eighty percent of entrants are university graduates, although a degree is not required for admission; the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst instructors' cadre is run once every year. The aim is to select 30 Senior Non-Commissioned Officers from 60 over the course of 3–4 weeks. Instructors can come from any part of the British Army although most are from the Infantry. Before the 60 candidates arrive on the cadre, they would have had to have passed a'Divisional pre-selection' course, meaning it would not be unusual for over double the 60 places to be contested. Sergeants and Colour Sergeants attend the Instructors C
Seaford, East Sussex
Seaford is a coastal town in East Sussex, on the south coast of England. Lying east of Newhaven and Brighton and west of Eastbourne, it is the largest town in Lewes district, with a population of about 23,463. In the Middle Ages, Seaford was one of the main ports serving Southern England, but the town's fortunes declined due to coastal sedimentation silting up its harbour and persistent raids by French pirates; the coastal confederation of Cinque Ports in the mediaeval period consisted of forty-two towns and villages. Between 1350 and 1550, the French burned down the town several times. In the 16th century, the people of Seaford were known as the "cormorants" or "shags" because of their enthusiasm for looting ships wrecked in the bay. Local legend has it that Seaford residents would, on occasion, cause ships to run aground by placing fake harbour lights on the cliffs. Seaford's fortunes revived in the 19th century with the arrival of the railway connecting the town to Lewes and London, it became a small seaside resort town, more a dormitory town for the nearby larger settlements of Eastbourne and Brighton, as well as for London.
The traditional Sussex pronunciation of the name has a full vowel in each syllable: "sea-ford". However, outside Sussex, within, it is pronounced with a reduced vowel on the second syllable: SEE-fərd; the town lies on the coast near Seaford Head equidistant between the mouths of the River Ouse and the Cuckmere. The Ouse valley was a wide tidal estuary with its mouth nearly closed by a shingle bar, but the tidal mudflats and salt marshes have been "inned" to form grassy freshwater marshes. To the north the town faces the chalk downland of the South Downs, along the coast to the east are the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, Beachy Head; this stretch of coast is notified for its geological and ecological features as Seaford to Beachy Head Site of Special Scientific Interest. The River Ouse used to run parallel to the shore behind the shingle bar, entering the sea close to Seaford. However, a major storm in the 16th century broke through the bar at its western end, creating a new river mouth close to the village called Meeching but renamed Newhaven.
Part of the former channel of the river remains as a brackish lagoon. The town had excellent beaches, which were supplied by longshore drift moving sand along the coast from west to east. However, in the early 20th century a large breakwater was constructed at Newhaven Harbour and the harbour entrance was dredged; these works cut off the supply of fresh sand to the beach. By the 1980s the beach at Seaford had all but vanished, the shoreline becoming steep and composed of small boulders; this made Seaford attractive to watersports enthusiasts but it discouraged more general seaside visitors. So in 1987 a massive beach replenishment operation was carried out, in which around 1 million tonnes of material was dredged from sandbanks out to sea and deposited on the shore. During a severe storm in October of the same year a substantial amount of the deposited material on the upper part of the beach was washed out past low tide level, leading to questions in the House of Commons; the beach has been topped up several times since giving the town a broad beach of sand and shingle.
The town's publicity website states: For many, the main attraction in Seaford is the beach. This has an obvious attraction in the summer. In 1620 and 1624, the sheriff and jurat of Seaford was William Levett, of an Anglo-Norman family long seated in Sussex. William Levett of Seaford owned the Bunces and Stonehouse manors in Warbleton inheriting them from his father John Levett, who died in 1607. Levett sold the estates in 1628 and died in 1635, his will being filed in Hastings; the Levett family intermarried with other Sussex families, including the Gildredges, the Eversfields, the Popes, the Ashburnhams, the Adamses, the Chaloners. A seal with his arms belonging to John de Livet, Lord of Firle, was found at Eastbourne in 1851. From 1894 to 1974 Seaford was an urban district run by Seaford Urban District Council. In the local government reorganisation of 1974 it became an unparished area, part of the Lewes District Council area; this loss of independence was unpopular with Seaford residents and in 1999 the town became a civil parish within Lewes, with a town council.
Municipal services within Seaford are now provided by three tiers of local government – the county council, the district council and the town council. The town council has four elected by each of five wards; the Seaford Community Partnership is a body incorporating representatives drawn from all three tiers of local government and from local civic groups. The partnership seeks to advise on long term development strategy for the town; the town council is composed of 10 Conservative, 7 Liberal Democrat and 1 Labour, 1 UKIP and 1 independent councillor. In the Lewes District council elections on 7 May 2015 the town returned 7 Conservative district Councillors and 3 Liberal Democrat district Councillors. For District elections the wards are the same five as for the Town council however they only return two Councillors to the District council; the parliamentary constituency of Seaford was a notorious rotten borough until its disenfranchisement in the Reform Act 1832 when it was incorporated into the Lewes constituency.
Seaford returned three members of parliament who went on to become Prime Minister: Henry Pelham represented the town from 1717 to 1722, William Pitt t
3rd Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 3rd Infantry Brigade was a Regular Army infantry brigade of the British Army, part of the 1st Infantry Division. Formed in 1809, during the Peninsular War, the brigade had a long history, seeing action in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, during both World War I and World War II; the 1st Division was formed during the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal, part of the army commanded by General Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington. In 1814, the 3rd brigade took part in the Battle of New Orleans, commanded by Lt. Gen. John Keane, it took part in the Battle of Ali Masjid in November 1878 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. As the Second Boer War ended in 1902 the army was restructured, a 2nd Infantry division was established permanently as part of the 1st Army Corps, comprising the 3rd and 4th Infantry Brigades; the brigade saw service during the First World War as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. The 3rd Brigade was constituted as follows during the war: 1st Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment 2nd Battalion, Welch Regiment 2nd Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers 1/4th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers 1/6th Battalion, Welch Regiment 1/9th Battalion, King's Regiment 3rd Trench Mortar Battery 3rd Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps Between the wars the brigade, now redesignated 3rd Infantry Brigade, saw numerous changes in its battalions, including 2nd Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1st King's Own Scottish Borderers and 1st Border Regiment.
However, these were all posted away by 1937, either to other divisions stationed in the United Kingdom or to different parts of the British Empire. From 1936–1938 the brigade was commanded by Arthur Floyer-Acland In 1938 they were replaced by 2nd Buffs, 2nd Cameronians and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers. There was no fourth battalion as it was in this year that British infantry divisions were reduced from twelve to nine battalions, infantry brigades reducing from four to three; these battalions, were replaced in early 1939, by 2nd Sherwood Foresters returned from many years spent in British India and Guernsey, 1st Duke of Wellington's Regiment, returned to England from three years spent Malta, 1st King's Shropshire Light Infantry, which had returned to England in 1938 for the first time after having served in British India in 16 years. During the Second World War the brigade continued to be part of the 1st Infantry Division, would remain with it throughout the war, was sent to France on 25 September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the war, served as part of the British Expeditionary Force in France.
The brigade was to remain in France, serving alongside the French Army on the Maginot Line on the Franco-Belgian border until May 1940 when the German Army invaded Holland and France and, during the fighting, forced the BEF to retreat to Dunkirk where the 3rd Brigade was evacuated to England, arriving on 1 June 1940. After the retreat from Dunkirk it remained in the United Kingdom on home defence against a German invasion until early 1943 when it was sent to North Africa to take part in the Campaign in Tunisia. On 11 June 1943 the 1st Infantry Division was sent to the Italian island of Pantelleria which they captured and occupied without casualties. In late 1943 the brigade, with the rest of the division, was sent to Italy to join the British Eighth Army fighting in Italy. However, they were soon transferred to command of the U. S. Fifth Army for the Anzio landings, where they landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944 and were destined to fight in some of the worst and most violent battles of the Italian campaign where, during a German counterattack on 3 February, the brigade was completely surrounded and was only saved from annihilation by a counterattack from the 1st Battalion, nLondon Scottish of 168th Brigade.
The brigade continued to fight in numerous battles around Anzio and when not, were still subjected to constant artillery, mortar or small arms fire. The brigade fought in the breakout from Operation Diadem. In October 1944, while the 3rd Brigade was fighting on the Gothic Line with the Eighth Army, Private Richard Henry Burton of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment was awarded the Victoria Cross. In the same battle, Captain Arthur Burns was awarded the Distinguished Service Order; the brigade fought in Italy until 28 January 1945 when they were sent to Palestine as a garrison where they remained to the end of the war. The 3rd Infantry Brigade was constituted as follows during the war: 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment 1st Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters 3rd Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company The following officers commanded 3rd Infantry Brigade during the war: Brigadier H. O. Curtis Lieutenant Colonel J. M. L. Grover Brigadier T.
N. F. Wilson Brigadier W. R. C. Penney Lieutenant Colonel R. Bryans Brigadier H. A. E. Matthews (from 20 October 1941 unt
Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England corresponding in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000; until Chichester was Sussex's only city. Sussex has three main geographic sub-regions, each oriented east to west. In the southwest is the fertile and densely populated coastal plain. North of this are the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs, beyond, the well-wooded Sussex Weald; the name derives from the Kingdom of Sussex, founded, according to legend, by Ælle of Sussex in AD 477. Around 827, it was absorbed subsequently into the kingdom of England, it was the home of some of Europe's earliest recorded hominids, whose remains have been found at Boxgrove.
It is the site of the Battle of Hastings. In 1974, the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex was replaced with one each for East and West Sussex, which became separate ceremonial counties. Sussex continues to be recognised as cultural region, it has had a single police force since 1968 and its name is in common use in the media. In 2007, Sussex Day was created to celebrate history. Based on the traditional emblem of Sussex, a blue shield with six gold martlets, the flag of Sussex was recognised by the Flag Institute in 2011. In 2013, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Sussex; the name "Sussex" is derived from the Middle English Suth-sæxe, in turn derived from the Old English Suth-Seaxe which means of the South Saxons. The South Saxons were a Germanic tribe that settled in the region from the North German Plain during the 5th and 6th centuries; the earliest known usage of the term South Saxons is in a royal charter of 689 which names them and their king, Noðhelm, although the term may well have been in use for some time before that.
The monastic chronicler who wrote up the entry classifying the invasion seems to have got his dates wrong. The New Latin word Suthsexia was used for Sussex by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in his 1645 map. Three United States counties, a former county/land division of Western Australia, are named after Sussex; the flag of Sussex consists of six gold martlets, or heraldic swallows, on a blue background, blazoned as Azure, six martlets or. Recognised by the Flag Institute on 20 May 2011, its design is based on the heraldic shield of Sussex; the first known recording of this emblem being used to represent the county was in 1611 when cartographer John Speed deployed it to represent the Kingdom of the South Saxons. However it seems that Speed was repeating an earlier association between the emblem and the county, rather than being the inventor of the association, it is now regarded that the county emblem originated and derived from the coat of arms of the 14th-century Knight of the Shire, Sir John de Radynden.
Sussex’s six martlets are today held to symbolise the traditional six sub-divisions of the county known as rapes. Sussex by the Sea is regarded as the unofficial anthem of Sussex. Adopted by the Royal Sussex Regiment and popularised in World War I, it is sung at celebrations across the county, including those at Lewes Bonfire, at sports matches, including those of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club and Sussex County Cricket Club; the county day, called Sussex Day, is celebrated on 16 June, the same day as the feast day of St Richard of Chichester, Sussex's patron saint, whose shrine at Chichester Cathedral was an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Sussex's motto, We wunt be druv, is a Sussex dialect expression meaning "we will not be pushed around" and reflects the traditionally independent nature of Sussex men and women; the round-headed rampion known as the "Pride of Sussex", was adopted as Sussex's county flower in 2002. The physical geography of Sussex relies on its lying on the southern part of the Wealden anticline, the major features of which are the high lands that cross the county in a west to east direction: the Weald itself and the South Downs.
Natural England has identified the following seven national character areas in Sussex:South Coast Plain South Downs Wealden Greensand Low Weald High Weald Pevensey Levels Romney MarshesAt 280m, Blackdown is the highest point in Sussex, or county top. Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex. At 113 kilometres long, the River Medway is the longest river flowing through Sussex; the longest river in Sussex is the River Arun, 60 kilometres long. Sussex's largest lakes are man-made reservoirs; the largest is Bewl Water on the Kent border, while the largest wholly within Sussex is Ardingly Reservoir. The coastal resorts of Sussex and neighbouring Hampshire are the sunniest places in the United Kingdom; the coast has more sunshine than the inland areas: sea breezes, blowing off the sea, tend to clear any cloud from the coast. Most of Sussex lies in Hardiness zon
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate the reunification of Ireland and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland. It was the biggest and most active republican paramilitary group during the Troubles, it saw itself as the successor to the original IRA and called itself the Irish Republican Army, or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish, was broadly referred to as such by others. The IRA was designated an unlawful terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland; the Provisional IRA emerged following a split in the republican movement. It was so-called to mirror the 1916 Provisional Government of the Irish Republic, to designate it as temporary pending reorganisation of the movement. Although this happened in 1970, the name "Provisional" stuck with them; the Troubles had begun shortly before when a Catholic, nonviolent civil rights campaign was met with violence from both Ulster loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, culminating in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British troops.
The IRA focused on defence of Catholic areas, but it began an offensive campaign in 1971. The IRA's primary goal was to force the United Kingdom to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland, it used guerrilla tactics against the British RUC in both rural and urban areas. It carried out a bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and England against what it saw as political and economic targets; the IRA called a final ceasefire in July 1997, after its political wing Sinn Féin was re-admitted into the Northern Ireland peace talks. It supported the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and in 2005 it disarmed under international supervision. An internal British Army document examining its 37 years of deployment in Northern Ireland, describes the IRA as "a professional, dedicated skilled and resilient force", while loyalist paramilitaries and other republican groups are described as "little more than a collection of gangsters". American media described the IRA as "activists" and "guerillas", while the British press dubbed them "terrorists".
Several splinter groups have been formed as a result of splits within the IRA, including the Continuity IRA which emerged from a split in 1986 but did not become active until the Provisional IRA ceasefire of 1994, the Real IRA after the final 1997 ceasefire, both of which are still active in the low-level dissident Irish republican campaign. The IRA's initial strategy was to use guerrilla tactics to cause the collapse of the government of Northern Ireland and to inflict enough casualties on British forces that the British government would be forced by public opinion in Britain to withdraw from the region; this policy involved recruitment of volunteers, increasing after the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in which the British armed forces killed unarmed protesters, launching attacks against British military and economic targets. The campaign was supported by arms and funding from some Irish American groups; the IRA agreed to a ceasefire in February 1975, which lasted nearly a year before the IRA concluded that the British were drawing them away from military action without offering any guarantees in relation to the IRA's goals, hopes of a quick victory receded.
As a result, the IRA launched a new strategy known as "the Long War". This saw them conduct a war of attrition against the British and increased emphasis on political activity, via the political party Sinn Féin; the success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to the Armalite and ballot box strategy, with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The abortive attempt at an escalation of the military part of that strategy led republican leaders to look for a political compromise to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party and secret talks with representatives of both the Irish and British governments, the IRA called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political negotiations for a settlement; when the British government, dependent on Ulster Unionist Party votes at Westminster demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the IRA called off its ceasefire in February 1996.
The British demand was dropped after the May 1997 general election in the UK. The IRA ceasefire was reinstated in July 1997 and Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998; the IRA's armed campaign in Northern Ireland but in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, about 640 civilians; the IRA itself lost 275–300 members and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year period. On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using "purely political and democratic programmes through peaceful means", shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was "committed to the political path" and no longer represented "a threat to peace or to democratic politics", that th
Captain (armed forces)
The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank corresponding to the command of a company of soldiers. The rank is used by some air forces and marine forces. Today, a captain is either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery. In the Chinese People's Liberation Army, a captain may command a company, or be the second-in-command of a battalion. In NATO countries, the rank of captain is described by the code OF-2 and is one rank above an OF-1 and one below an OF-3; the rank of captain is considered to be the highest rank a soldier can achieve while remaining in the field. In some militaries, such as United States Army and Air Force and the British Army, captain is the entry-level rank for officer candidates possessing a professional degree, most medical professionals and lawyers. In the U. S.. Army, lawyers who are not officers at captain rank or above enter as lieutenants during training, are promoted to the rank of captain after completion of their training if they are in the active component, or after a certain amount of time one year from their date of commission as a lieutenant, for the reserve components.
The rank of captain should not be confused with the naval rank of captain or with the UK-influenced air force rank of group captain, both of which are equivalent to the army rank of colonel. The term goes back to Late Latin capitaneus meaning "chief, prominent"; the military rank of captain was in use from the 1560s, referring to an officer who commands a company. The naval sense, an officer who commands a man-of-war, is somewhat earlier, from the 1550s extended in meaning to "master or commander of any kind of vessel". A captain in the period prior to the professionalization of the armed services of European nations subsequent to the French Revolution, during the early modern period, was a nobleman who purchased the right to head a company from the previous holder of that right, he would in turn receive money from another nobleman to serve as his lieutenant. The funding to provide for the troops came from his government. If he was not, or was otherwise court-martialed, he would be dismissed, the monarch would receive money from another nobleman to command the company.
Otherwise, the only pension for the captain was selling the right to another nobleman when he was ready to retire. Many air forces, such as the United States Air Force, use a rank structure and insignia similar to those of the army. However, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, many other Commonwealth air forces and a few non-Commonwealth air forces use an air force-specific rank structure in which flight lieutenant is OF-2. A group captain was derived from the naval rank of captain. In the unified system of the Canadian Forces, the air force rank titles are pearl grey and increase from OF-1 to OF-5 in half strip increments. A variety of images illustrative of different forces' insignia for captain are shown below: Captain Captain Senior captain Staff captain
The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces, it may be awarded posthumously. It was 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 presented by the British monarch; these investitures are held at Buckingham Palace. The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, 11 to members of the British Army, four to 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 cannon captured at the Siege of Sevastopol. However, research has suggested 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 cannon, that there is no evidence of Russian origin. Owing to its rarity, the VC is prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction. A number of public and private collections are devoted to the Victoria Cross; the private collection of Lord Ashcroft, amassed since 1986, contains over one-tenth of all VCs awarded. Following a 2008 donation to the Imperial War Museum, the Ashcroft collection went on public display alongside the museum's Victoria and George Cross collection in November 2010. Beginning with the Centennial of Confederation in 1967, followed in 1975 by Australia and New Zealand, developed their own national honours systems, separate from and independent of the British or Imperial honours system.
As each country's system evolved, operational gallantry awards were developed with the premier award of each system—the Victoria Cross for Australia, the Canadian Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for New Zealand—being created and named in honour of the Victoria Cross. These are unique awards of each honours system, assessed and presented by each country. In 1854, after 39 years of peace, Britain found itself fighting a major war against Russia; the Crimean War was one of the first wars with modern reporting, the dispatches of William Howard Russell described many acts of bravery and valour by British servicemen that went unrewarded. Before the Crimean War, there was no official standardised system for recognition of gallantry within the British armed forces. Officers were eligible for an award of one of the junior grades of the Order of the Bath and brevet promotions while a Mention in Despatches existed as an alternative award for acts of lesser gallantry; this structure was limited. Brevet promotions or Mentions in Despatches were confined to those who were under the immediate notice of the commanders in the field members of the commander's own staff.
Other European countries had awards that did not discriminate against rank. There was a growing feeling among the public and in the Royal Court that a new award was needed to recognise incidents of gallantry that were unconnected with the length or merit of a man's service. Queen Victoria issued a Warrant under the Royal sign-manual on 29 January 1856 that constituted the VC; the order was backdated to 1854 to recognise acts of valour during the Crimean War. Queen Victoria had instructed the War Office to strike a new medal that would not recognise birth or class; the medal was meant to be a simple decoration that would be prized and eagerly sought after by those in the military services. To maintain its simplicity, Queen Victoria, under the guidance of Prince Albert, vetoed the suggestion that the award be called The Military Order of Victoria and instead suggested the name Victoria Cross; the original warrant stated that the Victoria Cross would only be awarded to officers and men who had served in the presence of the enemy and had performed some signal act of valour or devotion.
The first ceremony was held on 26 June 1857 at which Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in a ceremony in Hyde Park, London. A single company of jewellers, Hancocks of London, has been responsible for the production of every VC awarded since its inception, it has long been believed that all the VCs were cast from the cascabels of two cannon that were captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol. However, in 1990 Creagh and Ashton conducted a metallurgical examination of the VCs in the custody of the Australian War Memorial, the historian John Glanfield wrote that, through the use of X-ray studies of older Victoria Crosses, it was determined that the metal used for all VCs since December 1914 is taken from antique Chinese guns, replacing an earlier gun. Creagh noted the existence of Chinese inscriptions on the cannon, which are now legible due to corrosion. A explanation is that these cannon were taken as trophies during the First Opium War and held in the Woolwich repository.
It was thought that some medals made during the First World War were composed of metal captured from different Chinese guns during the Boxer Rebellion. This is not so