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Victoria Cross: CM.1450-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Artist: Hancock, Charles
Die-engraver: Hancock, Charles
Ruler: Victoria (1837-1901) (Inferred)
Mint: London




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.


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

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 36.8 mm
Weight: 27.96 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


1858 CE - 1928 CE

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Lion standing over crown with inscription on banner below, on cross

  • Text: FOR VALOUR
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription in double ring on cross

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1450-2009
Primary reference Number: 141544
Watson Catalogue: 372
Ordering: M-0333
Previous object number: LW.0333
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Victoria Cross" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-19 08:12:32

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{{cite web|url= |title=Victoria Cross |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-19 08:12:32|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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