For valour, an impressive new publication showcasing the lives of Australia’s Victoria Cross recipients, was launched today at the Australian War Memorial by the Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Mr Kerry Stokes.
The Victoria Cross is awarded for acts of bravery in the face of the enemy, and is the highest military honour in the Commonwealth. Since the Boer War, 100 have been awarded to Australians.
Written by Military Heraldry and Technology curator Craig Blanch and senior historian Dr Aaron Pegram, Lambert Western Front Fellow and the Memorials First World War centenary Historian, For valour provides a stunning account of the lives of these Australians.
From Neville Howse of the New South Wales Medical Corps to Cameron Baird of the 2nd Commando Regiment, tales of heroic actions from the Boer War appear alongside those from the First World War, North Russia, the Second World War, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson said that within the pages of the publication an important element of our national story had been documented.
“Within the galleries of the Australian War Memorial are the stories of 100 Australians whose extraordinary acts of bravery in the face of the enemy during wartime earned them the esteemed award of the Victoria Cross.”
“Few of us possess the qualities that stand behind these medals, but the stories of courage, fortitude, and dedication behind each one continue to inspire us in our everyday lives.
“It is impossible for us to fully comprehend the danger these men faced and the terror they fought through to defeat their battlefield adversaries,” Dr Nelson said.
Dr Aaron Pegram said that the Victoria Cross is the highest form of recognition that can be bestowed on a soldier of the Commonwealth.
“All ranks of the services are eligible for this award, which upholds the human virtues of courage, devotion, sacrifice, and compassion. There is no greater single honour, award, or accolade available,” Dr Pegram said.
Craig Blanch says that the expanding digitisation of historical records and their increased availability opened up a range of fresh archival material.
“This has allowed us to illustrate a balanced, honest study of the lives of Australia’s VC recipients, which, as we found, do not always accord with the Anzac legend.
The Victoria Cross remains a popular aspect of Australia’s military history. We hope to advance understanding of the award and its place in Australian military history,” Mr Blanch said.
With a foreword by Daniel Keighran VC and illustrated with photographs and works of art from the Memorial’s collection, For valour commemorates the Australians who have been awarded our nation’s highest military honour.
The book retails at $79.99 and is available at the Australian War Memorial shop, online, and at good bookstores nationally.
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