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New light on VC cannon(s)?
Sheldon Hall


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 377
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Encountered in the "Daily Mail" of 29 Dec was a report on a new book, BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE by John Glanfield, which appears to have a fresh angle on the "legend" of the Russian cannon thought to have been captured in the Crimean war and understood to have supplied the bronze from which VC medals are struck. According to Glanfield, the metal taken from the original gun ran out in 1914, after which new medals and replacements were struck from the guns held at the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, which he says are of Chinese manufacture and whose true origin he claims have never been proven. The later metal has been used for about one-third of all those struck.

Is all this common knowledge or is it genuinely a new angle? If so, doesn't it cast doubt once again on the authenticity of Chard's VC? At one time the medal currently thought to be his was in the possession of Stanley Baker (who thought it to have been a replacement for the lost original) and was identified following forensic analysis after his death as coming from the metal block used to strike all genuine VCs - but if this was the post-1914 block that would indeed make it a replacement rather than the original medal awarded to Chard...

Enlighten me, please!
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 783
Location: Brecon
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Sheldon,

I am probably one of the few people who have had both the Chard (Stanley Baker) and the Bromhead VCs in my hand at the same time. I am no expert but both appeared to have been engraved by the same man.

However I would say that the VCs issued after the Anglo-Boer War have a more yellow appearance than those issued earlier - e.g. Melvill, Coghill, Cobbe and the Hitch replacement. This does suggest the use of different batch of metal. Whether this batch was used into WW1 I do not know. John Tamplin and Peter Abbott in their book 'British Gallantry Awards' published way back in 1971 suggest that the metal was taken from guns captured from the Russians in the Crimean War, although during and after the First World War it is fairly certain that metal from captured Chinese guns was used for a short period. So I suggest Chinese metal might have been used as early as 1903.

So what John Glanfield is saying has been in the public domain for at least 35 years - so it is nothing new.

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Martin Everett
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Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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I'm trying to locate a fairly recent article I read that claimed that the two cannon captured from the Russians during the Crimea were previously captured by the Russians from the Chinese and which gave a close estimate of the amount of V.C.s that could be struck from the remaining metal. It dealt, I think, with a fairly recent and somewhat unprecedented public display of the remnants of the guns.

MAB
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Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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I can't seem to locate the magazine article ( I subscribe to a dozen history mags) but I did locate some interesting information that pertains:

http://www.ww2awards.com/award/1 comments on the Chinese origins.

http://Victoria-cross.biography.ms/ comments on the doubt they were at Sevastopol.

http://www.victoriacross.net/facts.asp mentions the cascobels were on display on 28 May of last year at the Imperial War Museum for the V.C./G.C. exhibition and they're normally tended by the 15 Regt. Royal Logistics and the cannon themselves stand outside the Officer's Mess at Woolwich.

http://www.donaldsensing.com/2005/03/British-private-awarded-Victoria-cross.html quotes (I'm not sure from where) made of bronze "from Chinese cannons captured from the Russians at the siege of Sebastopol during the Crimean War, large ingots of which are stored at an army depot near London." (May be quoted from the BBC.)

I'm not a metalurgist but it seems there could be a slight difference in the composition of the two cascobels not to mention some minor composition changes during smelting and striking and if there are ingots some impurities could be introduced there as well (not to mention the possibilty that the jewelers could have at various times altered the mix for esthetic reasons). It wouldn't be too difficult to test the existing cascobels with the ingots and the medals themselves. Considering there are still the remains of the cannon available for inspection and since only 1355 V.C.s were awarded it would seem odd that some one thought the original metal had run out.

Best

Michael
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New light on VC cannon(s)?
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