Private Michelle Norris and her Military Cross. Credit PA

All The Gen On The Military Cross

Private Michelle Norris and her Military Cross. Credit PA

British Armed Forces are often known for their bravery but there are a few who have shown true determination and courage in the face of the enemy.

Those recognised for exemplary gallantry may be awarded the Military Cross.

What Is The Military Cross?

The Military Cross is an operational gallantry award given to all ranks of the services in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

It lies in the third level of British military decorations that can be awarded to a member of the Armed Forces, below other premier awards such as the Victoria Cross and the George Cross and other Orders.

It was first created in December 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 members of the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground.

The award 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 our Armed Forces.”

If a recipient carries out further actions of "exemplary gallantry" they can be awarded silver bars, ornamented by the crown.

How Many People Have Been Awarded The Military Cross?

More than 52,000 Military Crosses have been awarded since its creation in 1914, with 3,717 bars being awarded on top of the initial award. 

Who Was The First Recipient?

The first Military Crosses were awarded in 1915 to 98 officers and warrant officers for their part in World War One.

Military Cross Medal. Credit Crown Copyright

Who Was The First Female Recipient Of The Military Cross?

Private Michelle Norris was the first female recipient of the Military Cross in 2006, 92 years after the award was created. 

Michelle was 19 and on her first tour of duty in Iraq in 2006 when she saved the life of her commander. Risking her life while under enemy fire, she climbed on top of a warrior armoured vehicle to reach her injured commander. With the help of the crew, she was able to get him into the back of the vehicle to receive first aid.

It was the first time Michelle had dealt with a casualty on the battlefield.

What Is The Military Cross Made From?

The Military Cross is made out of solid silver in a cross shape, which is suspended from a plain silver suspension bar on a ribbon. The ribbon is generally 32mm wide on military medals, and is a deep purple with stripes of white on either side. 

Since 1938 the name of the recipient and the year of issue has been engraved on the lower limb of the cross. 

There is a specific order to wearing medals which recipients have to follow. The order of wear is kept up to date in The London Gazette, which is where the details of all medal recipients are published. 

How Does A Person Get Recommended For The Military Cross?

Only a Sub-Unit Commander or above may put forward a recommendation for a member of their unit to receive the award, using advice from others or their own knowledge of the event. 

It is advised that a record of the event is made not long after it happens to go with the recommendation.

All recommendations are submitted in confidence. 

WATCH: Forces TV Meets Military Cross Winner Captain William Hall in 2015

Has Anyone Received More Than One Bar With The Military Cross?

Acting Captain Francis Wallington, of the Royal Field Artillery, was the first to be awarded the Military Cross and three bars in 1917.

He was first awarded the Military Cross for his courage and skill while wire-cutting and for bringing a trench mortar forward to an exposed position while under heavy fire from the enemy.

His first bar was for showing courage under heavy shell fire many times. Also when a fire broke out in a neighbouring battery’s gun pits he volunteered to extinguish it, all the time working under heavy shell fire once more.

His second bar was for the devotion in duty he showed in helping to dig out soldiers that had been buried by shell fire alongside two others.

Wallington was injured himself, but he insisted on helping take the wounded to a dressing station, all the time under shell fire.

His third bar was for taking two teams to collect two guns. One team was shot down, but he succeeded in bringing back the other gun, while under close enemy machinegun fire.