The Victoria Cross was inaugurated 150 years ago, at the suggestion of the Duke of Newcastle, then Secretary of State for War. Previously only the bravery of commissioned officers was recognised, usually by promotion or with the award of membership of the Order of the Bath. All ranks were eligible for the new medal. On 26 June 1857, before a vast crowd and accompanied by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria attended a review in Hyde Park where she pinned the new medals to the tunics of sixty-two officers and men.
In recent months the 150th anniversary of the medal's introduction has been marked by a plethora of books and articles. Most can be safely placed to one side, but two are remarkable. Max Arthur's Symbol of Courage is the more exhaustive. Arthur, the author of over twenty military histories, includes