Alex Burghart

A heavy cross to bear

Brian Izzard tells the sad story of how a handful of the bravest were stripped of their medal – often for theft, as a result of destitution

‘The Victoria Cross,’ gushed a mid-19th-century contributor to the Art Journal, ‘is thoroughly English in every particular. Given alike to the highest and the lowest in rank, but given always with a cautious and discriminating hand… the Victoria Cross is an epic poem’. Like all epic poems, the VC has its tragedies.

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