IWM London

Free exhibition

A photograph of Corporal Matt Croucher GC from 2008
Corporal Matt Croucher GC, 2008 © IWM

This display houses the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses, alongside a significant collection of George Crosses. Discover over 250 extraordinary stories of men, women and children who performed acts of bravery to help other people in desperate need. Pick up a kids' stamper trail inside the gallery or use the interactive screens to explore seven themes including boldness, endurance, leadership and sacrifice with your family.

What is heroism?

Family in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery

What is heroism?

The gallery explores the concept of bravery and what motivates people to undertake acts of heroism. Accompanying the medals, and the stories of those awarded, are artworks and photographs, film and objects. 

Objects on display include the extensively damaged backpack worn by Lance Corporal Matt Croucher GC who, in Afghanistan 2008, threw himself onto a grenade saving the lives of his comrades. The backpack also helped to save his own life.

You can also see the diving suit worn by James Magennis VC, who left his submarine in order to free explosive charges that had got caught during an attack on a Japanese boat in 1945.


Uncover stories of bravery

A photograph of Lieutenant Odette Marie-Céline Sansom who was awarded the George Cross
Lieutenant Odette Marie-Céline Sansom who was awarded the George Cross © IWM (HU 3213)

Uncover stories of bravery

French-born Odette Sansom worked undercover in France during the Second World War, serving as a courier on behalf of the British Government, for Special Operations Executive (SOE).

In April 1943 she was captured and interrogated. Despite brutal torture by the Gestapo, she told them nothing, her silence saving the lives of many agents.

Sansom was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany in July 1944. She was treated harshly, once kept in the dark on her own for over three months. She survived the camp, later giving evidence against several of Ravensbrück's staff.

In 1946 she was awarded the George Cross (GC) for refusing to betray her fellow secret agents under torture. She became a national heroine and in 1950, a film was made about her. Sansom accepted her GC on behalf of all her comrades who did not survive the war.






IWM London building

IWM London
Lambeth Road

  • Lambeth North
  • Elephant & Castle