50p Coins and the Victoria Cross

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Percy, Jun 22, 2005.

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  1. The article about Gordon Brown rejecting the naff design for the obverse of the new 50p coin commemorating the Victoria Cross started me thinking about why we need to employ the services of a civilian artist who seems to misunderstand what the VC is all about.

    It would be easy to pick any of numerous examples from history for the coin (and why stick to one particular incident). I'll try to keep to a tri service theme but we could have included:

    Charles Lucas on board HMS Hecla who threw a live shell off the deck during the Crimean war in 1854 (this was the first to be awarded and was back dated from the instigation of the VC in 1857)

    The CSM at Rorke's drift bawling defiance with his rifle and bayonet at the en guard.

    Leefe Robinson shooting down a German airship over London.

    The first VC of WW1 (a Fusilier if memory serves correct who took over a Vickers MG by a railway line)

    The RAF chap who crawled out on the wing of a Wellington bomber to put an engine fire out.

    Lionel Queripel at the Wolfeholze Crossing at Arnhem throwing the Germans' grenades back at them.

    The Gurkha who used engineer plant to help take out some Japanese and protect his own chaps.

    The vicar who won the VC twice.

    Speakman in Korea throwing empty beer bottles at the Chinese.

    Col H in the Falklands

    Pte Beharry.

    My point is that we don't need to rely on someone elses imagination; the real life stories are incredible and don't need making up.

    Over to you for other suggestions I think the only criteria should be that the action must be able to be portrayed on a coin and ideally should give a sense of the energy and danger involved (so for instance Leonard Cheshire's VC for multiple missions wouldn't fit - probably).
  2. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    Excellent point Percy. Why not a picture of Johnson Beharry on the other side, as the most recent representative of a very small and select group?

    Edited to add: Why not have a different VC winner on the back of each year's 50p coin issue? And a GC winner on the back of a different coin?
  3. The image they rejected would have been spot on for Col H, wasn't it rumoured he was shot in the back by his signaller for being a mad arsed b@stard getting his men killed?
  4. Percy said:

    "The CSM at Rorke's drift bawling defiance with his rifle and bayonet at the en (on?) guard."

    I'm fairly sure CSgt Bourne did not win the VC at Rourke's Drift

    "The RAF chap who crawled out on the wing of a Wellington bomber to put an engine fire out."

    Wasn't it a Lancaster?

    "The vicar who won the VC twice."

    There have only been 3 double VCs One was New Zealand Infantry. Both the others were medics. None were, to my knowledge Vicars. One was a bishop's son but never took holy orders.
  5. I'll bow to your superior knowledge on the vicar. I am pretty sure it was a Wellington bomber and that CSgt Bourne did win a VC. However, it misses my original point; that there is plenty of material out there to use on a coin - we don't need to make it up.
  6. Bourne - I believe died in 1945 as a Lt Col. OBE DCM - no VC though...
  7. Bourne was only 25 at Rorkes Drift. Remarkable in an army that was used to chaps serving for many years before getting their first stripe.

    Though wrong, the ZULU depiction of C/Sgt Bourne is that of the highest standard of army NCO, and I thank God (and a .45 Martini action etc) that I have met many like him during my service.
  8. if true then its wrong and a court martial offence.
    i may not have been there but as far as i know from the books and accounts by those who was there, what Col H was trying to do was to correct a mistake which he has made earlier in his battle plans.

    there are procedures in place to remove an incompetent officer which doesn't include "Fragging"
  9. This is indeed correct. :)
  10. IIRC Capt. Charles Upham, the Kiwi VC & Bar, became a lay preacher after WW2. I think that's where folk are thinking Vicars.

    As an additional bit of information he was related, through his wife, I believe, to Noel Chavasse, one of the only other two holders of the VC & Bar.

    During WW1, however, there was a Padre who won the VC, DSO and MC. He was 54 when he won his VC.

    Padre VC DSO MC
  11. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal not the VC


  12. Colour Sergeant Bourne DCM, (2459 B Co. 24th. Regiment) didn't get the VC.
    Born in Balcombe, Sussex in 1854. He enlisted at Reigate on 18 December 1872 aged 18 years 8 months. Promoted Corporal in 1875, Sergeant in 1878 and Colour Sergeant in April 1878. He was aged 24 years at the time of Rorke's Drift and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
    He was offered an immediate commission after Rorke's Drift, but he declined, probably because in those days officers needed considerable private means to finance their mess bills, uniform etc. However was commissioned in 1890 as a Quartermaster. In 1893 he was appointed Adjutant of the School of Musketry at Hythe in Kent. He retired from the Army in 1907. During the Great War, he rejoined and became Adjutant of the School of Musketry in Dublin.
    At the end of the war, he was given the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed OBE, ending his career as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Bourne OBE DCM.
  13. You're right Tifi 71 He didn't

    The trouble with picking one VC is you seem to say one VC is of greater value than the other. Who are we to compare the courage of individual recipients. I think it is better to have iconic image of the VC than valueing one VC over the others.
  14. This sort of thing seems to be repeated in history, good soldiers rising rapidly through the ranks while their less able peers marking time in the same rank for what would seem much longer than today.

    My great grandfather was on the 1881 census as a 22 year old Bombardier while many others were gunners in thier late 20s. Maybe if you couldn't do the paperwork or the exams you couldn't get on, and a lot of soldiers were soldiers back then because they weren't too well educated.

    You don't need an education to get a VC though.

  15. was it not pte Hook who won the VC