Are VCs won or awarded – and why are people so passionate about the difference?


Australian Warrior Expo 2018>
>. Subscribe to CONTACT in print .
.

. .

 

In writing stories for public consumption, if you say “Willie Apiata, Ben Roberts-Smith or Mark Donaldson (above) won a VC”, you’re likely to get lynched.

It’s happened to me a couple of times (and it can be painful:-).

But I stand by my right to say it.

The Australian War Memorial even published an article specifically clarifying “Why it is not incorrect to speak of winning a Victoria Cross

Also, if you search for “won the Victoria Cross” or “win the Victoria Cross” on Google, you will get thousands of references, some of them official government sites – Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and British.

For example…

  • The AWM refers to the Battle of Lone Pine as being “remarkable in that seven Australians won the Victoria Cross”
  • Again, the AWM says that Albert Jacka, “became the first Australian to win the Victoria Cross in the First World War”
  • The victoriacrosssociety.com has at least one story that refers to “Three Devonians won the Victoria Cross in the First World War”
  • Any number of regimental web pages, such as the suffolkregiment.org says “A number of men have won The Victoria Cross while serving with the Regiment”
  • rmg.co.uk (Royal Museum Greenwich – a fairly prestigious source) has a story (among many) on “How Jack Cornwell won the Victoria Cross”
  • A search of the Imperial War Museum (again, right up there for authority) web site for “won the victoria cross” turns up more than 50 results
CONTACT's Yearbook 2015 features a blow-by-blow account of the battle in which Mark Donaldson 'won' his VC.
CONTACT’s Yearbook 2015 features Sgt Troy Simmonds’ blow-by-blow account of his personal experience in the battle in which Mark Donaldson ‘won’ his VC.

I could go on and on, but I’m confident my point is well supported by credible citations.

And, while I acknowledge that the Royal Patents for the ‘awarding’ of the Victoria Cross does say that the honour is ‘awarded’, I don’t think you can infer that the absence of other descriptors therefore prohibits their use.

And, at the end of the day, no one has ever been able to cite a reference or authority to support the (sometimes heated) argument that VCs are “only ‘awarded’ and never ‘won'”.

I do understand and appreciate that some readers get very passionate on this topic, and I admire and encourage healthy and respectful debate – but – I believe the weight of use in everyday language for more than 100 years, supported by common usage in official circles, exonerates little old me and CONTACT magazine.

In the end, I think it comes down to personal preference. And I for one am all for the widest possible vocabulary in common narratives.

But, if anyone has a legitimate argument or can cite a credible source to prove the rest of the world wrong, I have been known to change my mind from time to time 🙂

 

Brian Hartigan
Managing Editor

editor@militarycontact.com – or comment below

 

EPILOGUE: This argument has been given a good airing. It hit the number 3 spot on CONTACT’s Top 10 posts of all time for a while (but has since been left well in the shadows of much bigger posts, such as CA’s ban on death iconography)  and has been shared on Facebook more than 1000 times, each attracting it’s own string of comments. While we appreciate each commenter’s personal opinions and interpretations on this matter, not one comment that we have seen has cited any references to back up the majority of assertions that ‘won’ or ‘win’ are taboo. Therefore, we can only conclude that these assertions are based purely on personal opinion and personal preference – or the narrowest or most modern definitions of the words ‘won’ and ‘win’.

On the opposite side of the coin, we have cited more than 100 years of credible and noteworthy references that permit and lend precedence to their use. Therefore, CONTACT has not been convinced that we should stop using the terms ‘won’ or ‘win’ when discussing or reporting on how a particular Victoria Cross was merited, and we will continue to do so, until someone can ‘prove’ us wrong.

.

.

.

Subscribe FREE here

.


. . .
...
...
. .
24422 Total Views 6 Views Today

Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

10 thoughts on “Are VCs won or awarded – and why are people so passionate about the difference?

  • 31/07/2018 at 8:35 am
    Permalink

    Brian, what I think Mac is getting at is that it looks like the lower ribbon bar is back the front. By that I mean what looks like the ISAF ribbon is first when it should be the last in that row and the Afghan ribbon should be first. Look at RS’s lower ribbon bar for comparison. The image isn’t very clear and could be wrong but I think that’s what Mac is getting at.

    Reply
    • 31/07/2018 at 12:04 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Rod. I see what you (and Mac) mean, and I agree with you.

      Reply
  • 31/07/2016 at 7:21 am
    Permalink

    Am I the only one that is more worried about Donaldson’s ribbon bar?

    Reply
    • 31/07/2016 at 9:50 am
      Permalink

      Possibly yes, Mac, you are the only one 🙂
      But if you don’t say what your specific concern is, how would we know what your talking about?
      Brian Hartigan
      CONTACT Editor

      Reply
  • 06/04/2016 at 8:09 am
    Permalink

    I think the more eloquent, politically correct title clever journos and dignitaries commonly use would be ‘invested’.

    ‘Awarded’ is befitting enough to most of us.

    ‘Won’ is used too commonly by sloppy editors, and gives the impression it was achieved for one’s self like an olympic athlete.

    Reply
  • 03/04/2016 at 4:44 pm
    Permalink

    While the VC is certainly “awarded” – the word “win” has a far wider spread of meaning than being the victor in a contest or game of chance. Winning can include to ​receive something ​positive, such as ​approval, ​loyalty, or ​love because you have ​earned it and I think that in all of the phrases where any serviceman is described as having “won” the VC, the thrust of the phrase is surely that it has been earned through their actions. Don’t limit the breadth of the English language!

    Reply
    • 03/04/2016 at 6:02 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Ken. A man after my own heart.
      Brian Hartigan
      Editor

      Reply
  • 30/03/2016 at 8:53 pm
    Permalink

    The VC is earn and if the criteria Is met it is awarded. It sounds like a chook raffle at the pub to say it is won.

    Reply
  • 29/03/2016 at 3:13 am
    Permalink

    While there is evidence that Gonzo World’s explanation does play a part, authorities use the system of awarding to control who and how many people receive medals and similar acknowledgements (knighthoods, AOs, etc). In order to be awarded a medal, certain criteria must be met, notably that the witnesses or nominating party(ies) are credible and reliable. Other factors no doubt come into play; I doubt that a convicted murderer or rapist would qualify for a major medal in this political day and age no matter how brave they were on the battlefield. The idea behind a medal being “awarded”, as opposed to being won, is that the authorities have found enough evidence to reach an agreement to award the medal. While not wishing to cast aspersions on anyone, we have more than enough evidence of civilians giving themselves medals in order to complete their disguise in cases of stolen valour to suggest that some weak willed service members might be tempted to concoct their own story. This also explains why some service members miss out on certain medals or bravery awards altogether; they may have entered legend for their brave deeds but their actions were not properly witnessed by a suitable nominating authority. I am not saying it is fair, just how it is.

    Reply
  • 28/03/2016 at 9:03 pm
    Permalink

    You are “awarded” medals because “won” would suggest that it’s a competition, and the further implication is that those who don’t “win” galantry awards are runners up. One of the main arguments against galantry medals,before the Victoria Cross was instituted (and one of the reasons why initially a VC could not be awarded posthumously), was the fear that it would become a competition with some soldiers focus becoming the “winning” of galantry medals at the possible expense of the mission. It’s a military thing regardless as to the official position on it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CONTACT returns to print in 2019*

SUBSCRIBE HERE

*An audience initiative to ‘crowd-fund’ print costs
(conditions apply – see subs page)