The Victoria Cross, the nation’s highest award for gallantry, was instituted in 1856 and since that date forty medical personnel of the army and navy of Great Britain and its former empire have received this award. Of that number, two have received the award twice and a further one was recommended for a second award but turned it down. Who were these gallant men of many nationalities, including one American doctor, and why did they put their lives in extreme danger and in some cases lose their lives to save others, in the majority of cases their only protection being a Red Cross armband?
These were just ordinary men, all but three of them doctors and for the first time their lives are explored in Mistaken Gallantry, The Medical Victoria Crosses accompanied in many cases by photographs of the individuals, their medals and artist’s depictions of the acts of gallantry.
Also included in the story of one Victoria Cross not presented to an individual but to the Army Medical Services as a whole, when, on 19 May 1856, Queen Victoria placed a Victoria Cross beneath the foundation stone of the new military hospital at Netley on Southampton Water.