Behind the Valour: A technical, administrative and bureaucratic analysis of the Victoria Cross and the AIF on the Western Front, 1916-1918.

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Copyright: D'Alton, Victoria
This thesis focuses on the how and why the Victoria Cross came to be awarded to 53 soldiers of the AIF on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918. It examines the technical, administrative and bureaucratic history of Australia s relationship with the Victoria Cross in this significant time and place. It is a history Behind the Valour. For the most part, existing literature involving Australians and the Victoria Cross on the Western Front celebrates or commemorates the acts that resulted in the decoration being awarded. This thesis adds quite a different historiographical dimension. The thesis first discusses the significance of the Victoria Cross, from its origins up to the beginning of First World War and goes on to provide context and detail concerning Victoria Crosses awarded to soldiers of the AIF while in action on the Western Front. It explains the protocols and procedures required for the Victoria Cross to be awarded. The process followed a strict chain of military command from the field to the War Office in London, and finally the King. The central arguments of the thesis concern the influences and contentious issues that affected the award of the Victoria Cross. These included, for example, changes made to recommendations, the interpretation of what constituted valour , and increased opportunities for some to be recognised over others. Perhaps of most significance was the release of a directive to British and Dominion armies on the Western Front on 29 August 1916. This directive resulted in substantial changes to the way in which the Victoria Cross recognised valour for the rest of the war. The thesis also examines a number of issues relating to the Victoria Cross on the home front in Australia. It argues, for example, that the government used the Victoria Cross and AIF recipients to assist recruitment drives. So too, both sides attempted to exploit the award during the divisive conscription campaigns of 1916 and 1917. The Victoria Cross s relationship with the press, and the media s considerable efforts in portraying the Victoria Cross and its respective recipients as symbols of success is also examined. Until now, there has been no substantial exploration of important technical, bureaucratic and administrative relationships that existed between the Victoria Cross, the AIF and the Western Front. This thesis is aimed at filling this historiographical hole.
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D'Alton, Victoria
Stanley, Peter
Stockings, Craig
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Masters Thesis
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