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Maker(s):

Hancock, Charles; artist; British artist, 1802-1877
Hancock, Charles; die-engraver; British artist, 1802-1877
Victoria (1837-1901); ruler; inferred; Queen of Great Britain 1837-1901
London; mint

Collection:

Lester Watson Collection

Category:

medal

Name(s):

Victoria Cross; denomination
medals; Series
Military; subseries
Britain; subsubseries
British Army; subsubsubseries

Date:

1858 1928

Description:

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry that can be made by the United Kingdom. Instituted in 1856 to recognise deeds done in the Crimean War, reportedly at the suggestion of Prince Albert, the new medal was to be given "for valour". Even today this simple statement justifies the medal's award. The first medals were legendarily struck from bronze from the captured Russian guns of Sebastopol, although it is now believed that the metal came from older Chinese cannon that were found in the Arsenal in 1857. (These weapons may however have been captured from the Russians during the Crimean campaign.) The design was entrusted to the London jewellers' firm of C. F. Hancock & Sons, Holborn, and it is there that the Victoria Cross is still made when it is awarded today.
This Cross was awarded to Private David Hawkes, of the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own). David Hawkes (1822-58) was 35 years old during the Indian Mutiny (which is described more fully elsewhere) when the deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. On 11 March 1858 at Lucknow, India (one of the towns which most immediately bore the brunt of the uprising and had to endure a long siege), Private Hawkes's company was engaged with a large number of the enemy near the Iron Bridge. At one stage a captain (Henry Wilmot) found himself at the end of a street with only four of his men, opposed to a considerable body of the enemy. One of the men was shot through both legs and Private Hawkes, although severely wounded, lifted him up with the help of a corporal (William Nash) and they then carried their comrade for a considerable distance, the captain firing with the men's rifles and covering the retreat of the party.
Hawkes's luck did not last; he was killed in action at Fyzabad, India on 14 August 1858. Lester Watson purchased his Cross at some point before 1928.

Production
Place (legacy):

London, mint, place

Technique:

struck

Material:

bronze

Dimension(s):

weight, 27.96, g
diameter, 36.8, mm

Acquisition:

loan; 2005; Cambridge in America

Provenance:

Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt before 1928

Inscription(s):

design; obverse; FOR VALOUR; Lion standing over crown with inscription on banner below, on cross
design; reverse; Inscription in double ring on cross

Alternative
Number(s):

Watson Catalogue; 372
ordering; M-0333
previous object number; LW.0333

Documentation:

British and other Campaign and Gallantry Medals From the Collection of Lester Watson (d. 1959).
Victoria Cross (11 March 1858) (Indian Mutiny): Pvt. David Hawkes, 2nd Btn. Rifle Brgd. David Hawkes, VC (1822-58) was 35 years old, and a private in the 2nd Bn., the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own ), British Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. On 11 March 1858 at Lucknow, India, Private Hawkes' company was engaged with a large number of the enemy near the Iron Bridge. At one stage a captain (Henry Wilmot) found himself at the end of a street with only four of his men, opposed to a considerable body of the enemy. One of the men was shot through both legs and Private Hawkes, although severely wounded, lifted him up with the help of a corporal (William Nash) and they then carried their comrade for a considerable distance, the captain firing with the men's rifles and covering the retreat of the party.He was killed in action, Fyzabad, India on 14 August 1858.

Handbook of British and Foreign Orders, War Medals and Decorations Awarded to the Ar.p. 20

Accession:

Object Number: CM.1450-2009
(Coins and Medals)
(record id: 141544; input: 2007-03-27; modified: 2013-02-13)

Permanent
Identifier:

http://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/141544



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