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Gillingham's permanent Victoria Cross medals display
Victoria Cross
The VC is the highest British award for bravery in battle

The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham has a new permanent display of Victoria Cross medals.

Titled Valour the exhibition is made up of the 25 Victoria Crosses which the museum holds.

The VCs are accompanied by medal winners' personal items which are on display for the first time.

There is also a Book of Remembrance for visitors to record memories of people they know who have served in the armed forces.

'For Valour'

Queen Victoria chose the design and motto For Valour of the Victoria Cross. The medal was first awarded for actions in the Crimean War in the mid 1800s. It is available to everyone in the armed forces, regardless of rank.

Lieutenant Digby Jones
Lieutenant Digby Jones was shot in battle with Ladysmith warriors

The Victoria Crosses at the Royal Engineers Museum have been awarded for conflicts throughout the ages.

The most recent is from World War II and the oldest are six VCs from the Crimean War.

Three of the Crimean War VCs were presented at the first ever Victoria Cross ceremony, which took place in Hyde Park, London in 1857.

Lieutenant Digby Jones received a Victoria Cross for the Boer War and was the first man to be awarded a VC posthumously.

"His bravery instrumental in deciding to award them posthumously. After he was awarded it, VCs were then back dated to the Crimean War." said Deputy Curator Dominique Bignall.

World War I

Major James McCudden from Gillingham, one of the armed forces' first pilots received the Victoria Cross for World War I. The museum believes Major McCudden is the only person from Gillingham to have been awarded a VC.

He was one of the most decorated pilots of World War I and he was awarded the VC for "most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, keenness and very high devotion to duty".

Either side of his photograph and medal in the display are pictures of his brothers and father, all of whom were also decorated for their efforts in WWI.

McCudden's medals
Major James McCudden and his two brothers were all killed in World War One

Another three WWI Victoria Crosses on display were all won on the 4 November 1918, just before Armistice with Germany.

The Royal Engineers

Book of Remembrance
A new Book of Remembrance completes the Victoria Cross display

The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham is the birth place of military engineering. The building was first built to house a library for the first school of military engineering.

One of the original Royal Engineers, General Paisley, founded the school set up a school in the early 1800s. The museum tells the story of the Corps, keeps record of its achievements and maintains the archive.

Troop commanders and sappers still visit the museum today as part of their Royal Engineers training.

The Royal Engineers Museum Victoria Cross Exhibition is open to the public from Friday 12 November 2010. Museum entrance is £7.13 for adults, £4.75 for concessions, £19 for a family ticket and entry is free for children under 5.

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