Author explodes myth of the metal the Victoria Cross is made of
John Glanfield, a historian and author of Bravest of the Brave, to be published next month, claims to have exposed the truth about the metal used to make the awards.
It has long been believed that all 1,351 Victoria Crosses awarded have been made of bronze taken from two Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sebastopol and kept in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.
The Victoria Cross was instituted on Jan 29, 1856, as the supreme gallantry award and the first to recognise servicemen's brave acts regardless of rank.
The priceless lump of metal, of which there remains enough for a further 85 crosses, is kept in a vault at the Royal Logistic Corps in Donnington, Shropshire. It can be removed only under guard.
By studying historical documents and scientific analysis, Glanfield claims that the Woolwich cannon were not used until 1914, 58 years after the first Victoria Crosses had been produced.
He also says that the precious ingot disappeared during the Second World War, so a different metal was used for five crosses awarded between 1942 and 1945.
"I was astonished,'' he said. ''There was an accepted legend and no one had researched whether it was true. When something has been the belief for 150 years it becomes accepted as the truth.''
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