On this day in 1856, Queen Victoria instituted Britain’s highest military decoration, the Victoria Cross. Awarded to British and Commonwealth armed forces for outstanding bravery on the field of battle, it was originally made from the metal of cannon captured from the Russians at Sevastopol, until the supply came to an end in 1942.
Since the Crimean War, the medal has been awarded 1,357 times to 1,354 individual recipients. 14 medals, ten to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War.
Due to its rarity, the Victoria Cross is highly prized and the medal has been sold for more than £400,000 at auction.