50p Coins and the Victoria Cross

#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).
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#2
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?
 
#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
exsniffer said:
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.
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
taffcraven said:
Percy said:
Col H in the Falklands
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?
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
Tiffy_71 said:
Bourne - I believe died in 1945 as a Lt Col. OBE DCM - no VC though...
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
#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.
 
#14
mushroom said:
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.
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
exsniffer said:
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.


was it not pte Hook who won the VC
 
#16
The third chap to get a VC and Bar is Lt Col Martin Leake VC and bar. He, like Noel Chavasse was a doctor in the RAMC. He was awarded the bar to his VC for a number of actions in bringing in wounded men from no mans land over the period of 29 Oct - 8 Nov 1914. During the Second World War he commanded an ARP unit. Leake died on 22 Jun 53.

I am not ex RAMC. I live on the First War battlefields. Its awesome to see, when you look at the RAMC doctors that lie in the Military cemetaries over here, the amount of them that have bravery awards after their name, MC, VC, DSO etc. From a corps trained to save lives not take them.

FM
 
#17
Remeber that the VC is awarded "FOR VALOUR" and crawling out to tend to the wounded and defend the wounded from the effects of a continuing action demands a hell of a lot of valour, hence the reason why the RAMC has more VCs than any other capbadge. Read the citations for the RAMC and they all run something like...

Capt X repeatedly crawled into no mans land to treat the wounded himself becoming wounded in the process...Surgeon Lt Y continued to treat the wounded despite repeated attacks by Pathan tribesmen...Maj Z, despite being severly wounded himself refused treatment until all the wounded were evacuated; he later died of his wounds.
 
#18
"Capt. Charles Upham, the Kiwi VC & Bar"
What an excellent choice or a British coin. The Anzuks where there for us when we needed them. Twice.
john
 
#19
jonwilly said:
"Capt. Charles Upham, the Kiwi VC & Bar"
What an excellent choice or a British coin. The Anzuks where there for us when we needed them. Twice.
john
I think there was an Australian VC from Vietnam as well.
 
#20
The original concept of the VC was that the simple design and humble metal content, combined with the typical British understatement "For Valour" would suffice.

I would suggest exactly this for the reverse of the 50p. In a nod to the modern world - and to educate the populace a little, I would suggest that the normally plain edge of the coin has the web address of a VC site. My preferred one is Mike Chapman's.
 

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