Monday 22 April 2013

For Valour: Australia’s Victoria Cross Heroes

Our Stories - For Valour: Australia’s Victoria Cross Heroes by Nicholas Brasch (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 17.95
ISBN 9781742032313
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The Victoria Cross (VC)was first introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 (thus its name) to honour British soldiers for their acts of heroism in the Crimean War. The medal is created out of bronze taken from the Russian canons captured by the British in that war.

In this book from the Our Stories series, Australia's 99 recipients of the Victoria Cross are represented. Twenty-six of these were awarded posthumously. The entries begin from the Boer War addressing why it was fought and how Australians took part in it, with a biography on the first Australian to receive the VC during the Boer War, Neville Howse. We learn the origins of the VC, and get a comprehensive breakdown of why and how World War One started in a clear, easy-to-follow setting.

Sixty-four Australians received the VC in World War One, the first being Albert Jacka. There is reference to Leonard Keysor, a bomb thrower at Lone Pine during the Gallipoli campaign, Hugo Throssell, the only recipient from the Lighthorse Regiment, who was the husband of author, Katherine Susanna Prichard, and Reginald Inwood, who was stoned by the people of Broken Hill who were opposed to the war as he departed, then was heralded a hero by the same people on his return. The pictures are made up of posters and photos of the VC recipients from archives.

Amazing stories of short but significant lives continue into the North Russia Campaign, then to World War Two, onto the Vietnam War, and ending in the War in Afghanistan. It showcases a few of the lives that were ‘firsts’ through photos, accompanied by a brief biography and the situation which led to the VC award. At the end, there is a list of the VC recipients for each campaign, a Glossary and an Index.

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