Victoria Cross records and ephemera
Documents supporting the award of the Victoria Cross are now on display at the Reading Room of the Australian War Memorial. The display is arranged to show three themes associated with Australia's highest award for gallantry. These include official records produced leading to the award of the Victoria Cross; the ceremony of the award, which includes VC memorials and reunions; and items of commemoration, which are often autographed, such as invitations and correspondence between VC recipients, their communities and clubs.
The sovereign traditionally reserves the right to make the award in person, at a ceremony called an investiture. The Governor-General of Australia invested Trp Mark Donaldson with the Victoria Cross for Australia in 2009, and Cpl Benjamin Roberts-Smith in 2011. The programs of their investiture are displayed. The sovereign may honour recipients of the award with memorials and services. On display are tickets and programs of the VC Centenary, held in London in 1954. In 1992 Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a display at Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building. The three living Australian VC recipients at the time autographed the souvenir program.
Australia has a tradition of exhibiting the achievements of its VC recipients. A popular way of doing this is through commemorative issues of everyday products, such envelopes, stamps, and even cigarette cards. Recipients were also given first-class rail travel or memberships of clubs by a grateful nation. Acts of commemoration helped perpetuate the memory of those who died performing the actions for which they received the VC. On occasions where VC recipients gathered for a journey or reunion, menu cards and theatre programs were often autographed, exchanged or presented to the host.