The Hall of Valour, symbolically positioned directly underneath the resting place of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, “honours the deeds of ordinary Australians under the extraordinary conditions of war.”
It specifically recognises the ninety-nine Australians who have won the Victoria Cross and the nine service personnel recipients of the George Cross. Five Australian civilians have received the George Cross.
The immediately recognisable Victoria Cross – in the form of bronze Maltese Cross with a maroon ribbon simply inscribed ‘For Valour’ – was instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria (backdated to 1854 to recognise worthy recipients in the Crimean War) and was awarded to Australians from the Boer War until 1991 when it was replaced by the Victoria Cross for Australia which is almost identical in look to the Imperial Victoria Cross.
The most recent awards of the Victoria Cross for Australia were to Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith and Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran for acts of bravery in Afghanistan in 2010. Both these Victoria Crosses are on display in the Hall of Valour with that of the first Australian recipient, Neville Howse, a doctor by trade who served in the Boer War and around sixty others of the ninety-nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians. Also on display here are five of the six George Crosses in the possession of the War Memorial.
To the right rear (entering from the front of the War Memorial) of the Hall of Valour and worthy a look is a rather odd exhibit for a war museum – part of a Byzantine mosaic floor from Shellal, near Gaza. The link with war is that this mosaic and a number of other antiquities including a section of 4th century Roman floor mosaic from Homs in Syria (on display in the WWI Gallery) were collected by the Reverend William Maitland Woods senior Chaplin of the ANZAC Mounted Division and an amateur archaeologist.
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