Victoria Cross & VC

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Catalogue number
  • OMD 3845
Display status
IWM London
Materials
  • metal/cloth
Alternative Names
  • FULL NAME: Victoria Cross & VC
  • SIMPLE NAME: decoration : British
Creator
Category
decorations and awards

Label

Victoria Cross awarded in 1918 to Captain Ferdinand Maurice Felix ' Freddie' West VC MC (29 Jan 1896-8 Jul 1988) No 8 Squadron, Royal Air Force On 10 August 1918, during the Battle of Amiens, West and his observer - flying an Armstrong-Whitworth FK8- were on a low-level reconnaissance when they spotted German forces in a wood near Roye. Under heavy ground fire, West made another run over the wood to pinpoint the position but was attacked by German fighters. His left leg partially severed, West struggled to stay conscious but regained control of the machine, fashioning a tourniquet from the leg of his shorts. On landing, he insisted on making his report before undergoing surgery to amputate his leg. For his courage and determination, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The announcement of the award of the VC appeared in the London Gazetted of 8 November 1918.West received his VC from the King at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace on 1 March 1919.

History note

Biographical note (recipient): Captain Ferdinand Maurice Felix ' Freddie' West VC, MC (29 January 1896 - 8 July 1988) No 8 Squadron, Royal Air Force. 'Freddie' West was born in London, the son of a British Army officer and a French countess. He enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914 and was commissioned into the Royal Munster Fusiliers the following year. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, subsequently training as a pilot. He was awarded the Military Cross in May 1918. On 10 August 1918, during the Battle of Amiens, West and his observer - flying an Armstrong-Whitworth FK8 - were on a low-level reconnaissance when they spotted German forces in a wood near Roye. Under heavy ground fire, West made another run over the wood to pinpoint the position but was attacked by German fighters. His left leg partially severed, West struggled to stay conscious but regained control of the machine, fashioning a tourniquet from the leg of his shorts. On landing, he insisted on making his report before undergoing surgery to amputate his leg. For his courage and determination, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The announcement of the award of the VC appeared in the London Gazette of 8 November 1918. West received his VC from the King at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace on 1 March 1919. Fitted with an artificial leg, West stayed in the RAF after the war. From 1936-39 he was Air Attaché to Finland, Estonia and Latvia. In 1940 he was Air Attaché in Rome and then to the British Legation in Berne until the end of the Second World War. During his time in Switzerland he was engaged in helping to gather intelligence and in organising escape routes for Allied servicemen. He was subsequently awarded the CBE. After Air Commodore 'Freddie' West VC, CBE, MC left the RAF he was on the Board of the Rank Organisation and held a number of other non-executive appointments. At the time of his death in 1988, aged 92, he was the oldest surviving holder of the VC. The Museum holds the VC and other medals, including a number of foreign awards, to West (OMD 3845-3860). These were acquired in 1994 with the assistance of a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (Lot 271 in Sotheby's Sale of 29 November 1994).

Physical description

cross patté (described in the Royal Warrant as a 'Maltese cross of bronze') having at its centre a crown surmounted by 'lion gardant'; beneath the crown an ornamentally draped scroll bearing the motto: 'FOR VALOUR'. Raised borders outline the shape of the cross. The plain reverse bears a central circle (with raised edge) to enclose the date of the act of gallantry. The suspension bar comprises a straight laurelled bar with integral 'V' lug; the plain reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with details of the recipient. The 1½-inch wide ribbon is crimson. [Note: originally the ribbon was dark blue for Royal Navy recipients and crimson (described as 'red' in the Warrants) for the Army. After the formation of the Royal Air Force (1 April 1918) the crimson ribbon (sometimes described as 'claret', 'maroon' or 'dark red') was adopted for all recipients. When present, a straight laurelled Bar (in the same form as the suspension bar but without the 'V' lug) indicates a subsequent award.]

Engraved (in centre of reverse)

10. AUG. 1918.

Engraved (on suspension clasp)

LT (A/CAPT) F.M.F. WEST. M.C. R.A.F. FORMERLY S.R. ROYAL MUNS. FUS;

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