The Military Cross
) is the third level military decoration
awarded to officers and (since 1993) other ranks of the British Army
and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth
The MC is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank …". In 1979 the Queen approved a proposal that a number of awards including the Military Cross could in future be awarded posthumously.
The award was created in 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. In 1931, the award was extended to Majors and also to members of the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground. Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Military Medal, formerly the third level decoration for other ranks, has been discontinued. The MC now serves as the third level award for gallantry for all ranks of the British Army.
Bars are awarded to the MC in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters MC.
- 46 mm max height, 44 mm max width
- Ornamental silver cross with straight arms terminating in broad finials decorated with imperial crowns, suspended from plain suspension bar. The Obverse has a Royal Cypher in centre;
- The reverse is plain, but from 1938 the name of the recipient and year of issue has been engraved on lower limb of cross.
- For more information, see the category: Recipients of the Military Cross.
- During World War I, Acting Captain Francis Victor Wallington of the Royal Field Artillery was the first person to be awarded the MC and three bars when he was invested with his third bar on 10 July 1918 (gazetted 13 September 1918: he had obtained the first three awards as a second lieutenant). Three other officers were subsequently awarded a third bar, Percy Bentley, Humphrey Arthur Gilkes and Charles Gordon Timms, all of whose awards were gazetted in a supplement to the London Gazette of 31 January 1919.
- During World War II Captain Sam Manekshaw, Indian Army (who eventually rose to the rank of Field Marshal), was leading a counter-offensive operation against the invading Japanese Army in Burma. During the course of the offensive he was hit by a burst of machine-gun fire and severely wounded in the stomach. Major General D.T. Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and was aware of his valour in face of stiff resistance from the Japanese. Fearing the worst, Major General Cowan quickly pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross.
- The first posthumous Military Cross was that awarded to Captain Herbert Richard Westmacott (491354), Grenadier Guards for gallantry in Northern Ireland during the period 1 February 1980 to 30 April 1980.
- The first woman to be awarded the Military Cross was Private Michelle Norris of the Royal Army Medical Corps, while attached to The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment in Iraq. Norris was awarded her medal personally by Queen Elizabeth II on March 21 2007 as the result of her actions in Iraq on June 11 2006.
- Mackay, J and Mussel, J (eds) - Medals Yearbook - 2005, (2004), Token Publishing.