Six VCs put their stamp on history

Six holders of the Victoria Cross are to be immortalised on a set of stamps to mark the 150th anniversary of the introduction of the medal.

And as a reminder of modern heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the presentation pack will include a tribute by Gen Sir Peter de la Billiere, the commander of British Forces in the first Gulf war.

The Royal Mail heroes include Midshipman Charles Lucas, the first person to win the VC. Michael Adams, 61, a broker from Oxfordshire and the great-grandson of Midshipman Lucas, supports the launch of the stamps on Thursday, as does Col Rewati Rai, a soldier in the Indian Army and the son of Cpl Agansing Rai, a Gurkha who won the VC in 1944 for attacking a Japanese machine gun nest in Burma.

Midshipman Lucas was serving on HMS Hecla during the Crimean War when his ship came under fire. When a live shell landed on deck, the 20-year-old grabbed it and hurled it overboard. The shell exploded as it hit the sea, but the sailor's swift and heroic action saved many lives.

Boy 1st Class John Cornwell was only 16 when, serving in the Royal Navy in the First World War, he died heroically at the Battle of Jutland. Also honoured are Noel Chavasse, a First World War Army doctor; Charles Upham, a New Zealander, who was sent to Colditz; and Albert Ball, a fighter ace who was lost in action in 1917.

Julietta Edgar, the head of special stamps at the Royal Mail, said: "We wanted the stamps to celebrate bravery rather than war, so the focus was firmly on the individual recipients."

The VC was created at the behest of Queen Victoria in 1856. Since then, 1,355 have been awarded; today only 12 recipients are still alive.


This will be the first time I have collected stamps

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