The excitement of holding a Victoria Cross

I’m sure I may have mentioned that my dear wife volunteers at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Deepcut. While volunteering there yesterday she called me to say that a Victoria Cross was being loaned out, and would I like to see it. I duly nipped up there before it disappeared off site.

To handle the medal I had to wear latex gloves. Knowing how the Victoria Cross is revered for the exceptional bravery of those to whom it’s awarded transmits the moment you hold it. It’s the stories of sacrifice, courage under fire, and human selflessness that flood your mind, as also the desire to learn more about the recipient and his act of courage.

Here’s my photo of the obverse and reverse of the VC awarded to John Buckley, Deputy Assistant Commissary of Ordnance – Bengal Establishment, at the time of his act of heroism on 11th May 1857. [Click on images to expand]

To read about John Buckley VC, see Victoria Cross online, and brief summary below the medal photos

Four years later, in 1857, Buckley and his second wife and three surviving children moved to Delhi where he was appointed Assistant Commissary of Ordnance. He was employed at the Delhi Magazine, a storehouse of guns and ammunition. Later that year, the Indian Mutiny broke out against British rule and the mutineers soon reached Delhi.

On 11th May 1857, Buckley and eight fellow soldiers found themselves defending the magazine against overwhelming numbers. Rather than let the ammunition to fall into enemy hands, they decided to blow up the building and themselves. Miraculously four of the men survived the explosion, though sadly George Willoughby was killed in action two days later. The other men, including Buckley would be later awarded the Victoria Cross. At the time, the Royal Warrant for the VC did not permit posthumous awards so only three VCs could be awarded.

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