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The Victoria Cross and Women


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#26 woundwort

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:50 AM

Yes, I never have read descriptions of the GC which suggested it was of lesser value to the VC 'cos of happenstance that there was no enemy fire at the time. Such questions might arise if a second level medal had been awarded when under enemy fire, or a a GM instead of a GC when not (sorry to keep banging on about Lisa Potts).

Roy Farran received the first bar to his MC when, I suppose, technically a prisoner; but when engaged in combat to escape.

Jonathan is referring to L/Cpl. Matt Croucher, and Bill to Tpr. Christopher Finney. There also is S/Sgt Olaf Schmid who received his posthumously for bomb disposal.

#27 Jonathan Saunders

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 10:23 AM

Jonathan is referring to L/Cpl. Matt Croucher ...


That is correct - Matt Croucher. The original recommendation was for a Victoria Cross but the circumstances deemed a George Cross was the correct award. If I remember rightly, it was Matt Croucher who already had a Victoria Cross in the form of his fiance!

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#28 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 10:59 AM

VICTORIA CROSS AND GEORGE CROSS (WOMEN)

HC Deb 18 January 1944 vol 396 c3030

§48.Mr. Critchley
asked the Prime Minister if, having regard to the courage displayed by women in this war and their devotion to duty in the tasks allotted them, any woman serving in the branches of His Majesty's Forces has been recommended for the Victoria Cross; if such honour has been open to women since the commencement of hostilities; and if he will give an assurance that no discrimination will be used against women being awarded such an honour.


§The Prime Minister
No recommendation in favour of a woman has been made during the war so far for the Victoria Cross, which is given only for services in active operations against the enemy. The Naval, Military and Air Force Nursing Services and the Women's Auxiliary Services have been eligible for the award since the outbreak of war, with the exception that, owing to a change of status, the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force became ineligible for a period during 1941–42. Women are also eligible for the George Cross for services not in active operations against the enemy, and Corporal J.D.M. Pearson of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force holds that decoration. I can, therefore, readily give my hon. Friend the assurance he desires and I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the courage and devotion to duty displayed by women in all walks of life and forms of service during the present war.


Viscountess Astor
Would it be too much to ask my right hon. Friend to make a speech some day telling us what he really does think about women's services in the war?


§The Prime Minister
I addressed a meeting at the Albert Hall on this subject and I gathered that there was some criticism.


Viscountess Astor
May I remark that that was a closed meeting?

#29 royalredcross

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:08 AM

The facts are clear: no woman has ever been awarded the VC.

Have now read the BBC article.
It's a hurriedly cobbled together account using secondary sources and memoirs, some of doubtful accuracy. There are also factual inaccuracies in it - he seems to think the WRNS was formed in 1916 - and too great a reliance on the above sources including "famous" women.

If this is the best the BBC can do , they shouldn't bother.
NGG

#30 Sue Light

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:22 AM

It's a hurriedly cobbled together account using secondary sources and memoirs, some of doubtful accuracy. There are also factual inaccuracies in it - he seems to think the WRNS was formed in 1916 - and too great a reliance on the above sources including "famous" women.
If this is the best the BBC can do , they shouldn't bother.


Yes, in complete agreement. On the 'Medical Services' page (page 9) it's stated that 'There were, in 1914, two uniformed services in Britain that were open to women' and those were, apparently, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and VADs. No military nursing services - no QAIMNS, or QAIMNS Reserve, no Territorial Force Nursing Service. It is rather woeful. And they can't even get the name of the author correct. It's articles like this that spread the word that the only 'nurses' who served during the Great War were Edith Cavell, Vera Brittain, Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker. Of course, I'm forgetting Florence Nightingale who someone has probably resurrected and put in uniform.

Sue

#31 hesmond

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:59 AM

In reply to the Sazbo GC the citation does state her capture in 1944 whilst holding of the Germans armed with a sten gun .

#32 Jonathan Saunders

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:48 PM

In reply to the Sazbo GC the citation does state her capture in 1944 whilst holding of the Germans armed with a sten gun .


Whilst I agree with the sentiment that the service rendered by Violette Szabo, amongst other women, was deserving of a Victoria Cross, in fairness her involvement in armed conflict against the Germans was just one component of the citation.

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#33 woundwort

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 04:54 PM

Further to Sue above, the Thurso war memorial is an oddity I'm told in that it has the name of a woman on it. I'll have to check, but I'm fairly sure it was the Great War.

#34 Tonym

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:29 PM

I still stand by my orginal comment and I am aware that as FANY's, a self funding organisation, the military are more than prepared to use them for whatever reason and I consider all SOE's were on an active military operation. One at least of the three referred to was Inayat-Khan who in fact was a WAAF seconded to FANY and regarding them being only civilians, without checking my books I think you wil find a few civilian Mr's in the list. But then again in the eyes of the Col. Blimps they were only women!!!!

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#35 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:01 AM

Or perhaps the actions weren't considered worthy of the VC, I would imagine plenty of men performed exactly the same type of action but weren't awarded the VC, should it have been awarded just to get the ratios right?

#36 bill24chev

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:17 AM

Or perhaps the actions weren't considered worthy of the VC, I would imagine plenty of men performed exactly the same type of action but weren't awarded the VC, should ita have been awarded just to get the ratios right?

I suspect that if you could ask a WW1 or WW2 VC they would probably say that the courage of the SOE Women (& men) over a period of time diferent to the often spontaneoud bravery shown in the citations of many VC awards. and they could not do that.

#37 Sue Light

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:43 AM

This topic does seem to have strayed off course, but to try and keep it to WW1, my own opinion is that on the whole, women who received awards for 'bravery in the field,' which in the Great War were confined to the Military Medal, did so in slightly different circumstances from men.
Reading through the citations, and knowing what the women would have been engaged in at the time, the majority those who received awards did so for coping with the circumstances they found themselves in at a particular time, rather than for going forward to initiate some sort of action that would be detrimental to the enemy. If a bomb dropped on their hospitals, or their CCS was under shell-fire, these women coped with coolness, calm and intelligence, recognising what was important and what needed to be done to protect their patients. Although this could be seen as bravery, it was also behaviour that had become ingrained over many years of training and hard professional life in hospital. The circumstances were different but their basic instincts of care and protection kicked in. Maybe that can be contrasted with a man who actively put himself into a position of great danger, while understanding the seriousness and danger of his position. There are perhaps one or two women who cannot be categorised in this way, but personally I feel there are differences here.

Sue

#38 Tonym

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:49 AM

There is no difference in the Bravery status of a VC and GC. you cannot dowmgrade a VC to a GC a VC downgrading would result in a DCM the only difference is "Facing the enemy or not Facing the enemy" and an SOE agent facing the enemy, a Gestapo interrogator, knowing the consequences of non co-operation, has to be 'Very Brave'

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#39 royalredcross

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:15 AM

Probably not unusually, I agree with Sue. There are slight differences in the conditions of award of the MM for men and women. Whereas men were required to perform "individual or associated acts of bravery" women had to show "Bravery and devotion under Fire". This adds force to Sue's argument about the instinctual actions of the nurse'. It would not however account for Louise Nolan in 1916.

I have made some study of the MM awarded to women and, with luck, may have a book coming out later this year (Plug, plug!!).

NGG



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